Greetings from Lebanon
Thank you for following my news. In this newsletter, you can read about a couple of highlights from the ministry in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) through graduates from the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), and my personal ministry through my local church.
Little did we know by the beginning of this year what to expect, so many of our plans were altered due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The way we do church and ministry have seen a drastic change, and though at first glance things looked negative, we thank God for the opportunities he has given us to care for the needs of the most needy and vulnerable in our communities.
Fadi* is an ABTS graduate serving in North Lebanon, along with a team of volunteers. Fadi’s focus is on reaching out, in word and deed, to Syrian Refugees who had to flee their country and seek refuge in Lebanon. Since October 2019, Lebanon has been facing a serious economic and financial breakdown, the Lebanese Lira (the national currency) has lost over 80% of its value, and with the lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 situation many businesses had to shut down and thousands lost their jobs. This affected not only the refugee communities, but the Lebanese as well. Seeing the great need around them, Fadi* and his team started reaching out to the neediest by providing food and hygiene packages. CBM, and because of your generous donations, was able to come along them and provide funds for 73 packages to be distributed to the most vulnerable.
The Lebanese community where the church’s center is located in wasn’t very welcoming to the team as they saw them focusing on reaching out to the Syrian refugees in the past. But now, as they included Lebanese families in their efforts, a big change happened. Fadi says: “We have been praying for years to see a change in the hearts of our friends and neighbors, but we never expected change to happen in these circumstances. Even the local authorities offered to help, and the municipality sent with us members of its police team to escort and help us in the distribution. We praise God for His work among us, and thank our Canadian brothers and sisters for supporting our project.”
Mansourieh – Lebanon
I serve as the Outreach Coordinator in my local church – Faith Baptist Church. For four years now I have been working directly with Syrian Refugees, leading Bible Studies through house groups and in-church meetings, discipling new believers, and coordinating the relief efforts. We thank God for the amazing work He is doing in the refugee community as we have seen many of them from various backgrounds come to faith and profess Jesus as their saviour.
Around 200 Syrian refugee families live in Mansourieh, half of them in unfinished houses, warehouses or makeshift tents. They live in groups, which makes it impossible for them to distance themselves from each other thus with a higher risk of contracting the virus. With no or little income, their priority is to provide food or medicine in these challenging times. The Word of God teaches us that it is equally important to care for our physical health as well as our soul, 3 John 1: 2 states:
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1: 2
John had seen Jesus going from town to town declaring The Kingdom of God by words and deed; Healing the sick, raising the dead, along with setting the captives free. As a church, we believe that the task entrusted to us by Our Lord and Saviour is to be carried out the same way He did, that is why we decided to reach out to the neediest families with hygiene kits that included: soap, shampoo, wet wipes, hand sanitizers, and food packages that included basic items. We have been able, by God’s Grace, to reach out to more than 100 families so far. For these people, small random acts of love have a great meaning: “We have a better understanding of Jesus’ unconditional love that the church talks about when you visit us carrying these valuable gifts.” says Siham a mother of four. Most of us don’t worry about soap or shampoo, but for some of our neighbors, these are precious items they have to sacrifice for bread or milk.