Displaying items by tag: Lebanon
In the midst of persecution God is providing spiritual and financial support to Christians: spiritual investment is eternal, while the financial support is temporal. Help the Persecuted (HTP) addresses real needs with Gospel-centred, sustainable methods like an agricultural project in Lebanon that goes beyond providing physical needs. The community created around this farm is hearing the Gospel being shared along with food distribution. One member tells of being strangled by her radical Al-Qaeda husband and in that moment she saw Jesus. He reached out his hand and said, ‘I love you.’ She didn’t know who he was, but shortly afterwards learned about the person she saw in her vision. She gave her life to Jesus and fled alone to Lebanon. She knows he will never leave or forsake her. We can praise God for the work of HTP and need to continue praying for their protection and finances.
A refugee agency in Lebanon noted discrimination and violence against Syrian refugees rose sharply recently, with more confrontations at bakeries where refugees often have to wait for bread behind Lebanese citizens. Rawan Haddad, of Tent Schools International, said that the refugees’ situation is sometimes better than most Lebanese. Nations provide basic support and limited facilities for refugees, but Lebanese below the poverty line have no support. There are shortages of bread, flour, and medicine. People don’t make enough to buy what they need, and the government won’t help. With these concerns in mind, Lebanese officials have now announced they plan to repatriate refugees back to Syria, but the problem is that European countries will not agree to that course of action.
Iran's proxy militias have caused the decline of Christians in many regions by adopting ‘forced immigration’. In Lebanon Hezbollah targets missionaries, impedes conversions, imposes strict dress codes and alcohol bans, and limits mixed sexes in public, in what have been dubbed ‘mini-Tehrans.’ A sizeable amount of land owned by Christians has been taken over by Hezbollah through eviction. In Iraq, initially employed to resist American forces, the Shiite Mahdi Army has changed the demography, Making Baghdad 'Christian-free' was high on its agenda when they morphed into IS. Iran had influence in Syria through the Assad family (Alawite Sunni). After the uprising Iran restructured the Syrian Army and created several militias within the Shia Liberation Army. It saved the Assad regime, killing 600,000 people, displacing 6.5 million internally, and forcing 6.6 million to flee Syria. In Yemen the Houthis have invested considerable effort into ending the Christian presence in the territories under their control.
The World Bank has extended another year of financial aid to Lebanon despite political bickering. Inflation reached 206% in April, Lebanon’s currency dropped yet again last week, and Heart for Lebanon reports shortages of everything from electricity to fuel to bread. Everything costs more, and 78% of the population needs some kind of food assistance to survive. They are becoming more desperate every day. Divisions are deepening among the newly-elected parliament members. Fighting between parties that are for and against Hezbollah is taking priority over much-needed reform. People are looking for answers. They are turning to God in record numbers. Heart for Lebanon and local churches provide food and encouragement to families, showing them the love of Christ before telling them about the love of Christ. Ask God to strengthen and encourage Lebanese believers. They are staying put to care for people in need, instead of leaving the country to benefit themselves.
11% of Lebanon’s population is over the retirement age (65), and 80% of retired people have no health care coverage. Previously Habeeb and Elham had a good life; they could eat meat, afford medicine and have the lights on. But those times are over. When Habeeb retired their income stopped and now the 80-year-olds face poverty and uncertainty. ‘There is no government pension when you are old, no one is helping. How can we pay our bills?’ asks Habeeb with tears in his eyes. Lebanon has one of the world's worst economic crises. The Lebanese pound has lost 90% of its value since 2019. The banking system crumbled with much of the elderly’s life savings. The young are abandoning Lebanon in search of a more dignified life. Lebanese lack electricity and water, and food and medicine are difficult to import. The aid group Medonations imports medication and provides it to those who need it, and there are a few relief outlets for the vulnerable.
Abdo Saade is one of the most powerful men in Lebanon. He owns 4,000 electricity generators across Lebanon, which keep the lights on in the absence of a reliable power supply. He turned Lebanon's tattered electricity grid and inept state utility into a lucrative business, nicknamed 'Generator Mafia'. Millions of Lebanese pay enormous sums from their meagre salaries each month on two separate bills: one to the state electricity company, the other to their local 'generator man'. Without Mr Saade’s syndicate the country's economy would grind to a halt. A fuel shortage has further disrupted daily life, and two main power plants closed for 24 hours on 9 October. This week businesses have shut, hospitals anticipate mass deaths from power cuts to ventilators, water supplies to four million are threatened, and there have been fistfights and shootings at petrol stations.
Some churches in Lebanon cannot turn on the lights or run fans to combat the heat because of extreme fuel shortages. There have been times when they have not been able to meet because people do not have enough fuel to drive their car or cannot access public transport. Some have turned to solar power to keep some lights on. Unfortunately, only wealthy people have access to this technology. Lebanon is ideally situated for solar power, seeing about 300 days of sunshine per year. The power shortages mean Christians lose access to the internet, and therefore to Zoom meetings or Facebook Live which bring services to people unable to attend. After a year’s wait Lebanon finally formed a new government, but it remains unclear if the new officials will do much to stop corruption and help the people.
Pastor Said Deeb, in Beirut, had a strange feeling on the day of the explosion. ‘ I felt something bad was going to happen,’ Deeb explained, ‘as if the Holy Spirit was saying, “Go! Go! Go!”’ He was uneasy, sent 34 staff home, and cancelled Bible classes for 200 children. ‘They thought I had lost my mind, but it was the Holy Spirit's prompting’, he explained. Then the unthinkable happened - 200+ people dead, 7,000 injured, and 300,000 made homeless. ‘I thought this was the end, but the Lord had another plan. Despite the horror of Beirut’s deadly explosion, God is bringing something good from the ashes. I'm seeing people come to Jesus like never before, never! - and a big number of priests coming to deeper faith, priests coming for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the signs and wonders following. So it's the time for Lebanon.’
Israeli fighter jets have launched air raids on neighbouring Lebanon following a second day of rocket fire from Lebanon into Israeli territory. Fighter jets struck the launch sites and infrastructure from which the rockets were launched. Israeli aircraft routinely target Palestinian armed groups in Gaza and suspected Hezbollah or Iranian targets in Syria, but this was the first time since 2014 that they had hit targets in Lebanon. Previous acknowledged military actions mostly involved artillery shelling. Israel fought a 2006 war against Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is the dominant force in southern Lebanon. The border has been mostly quiet since then. The escalation came as thousands of grief-stricken Lebanese took part in a protest march on the first anniversary of a devastating explosion in Beirut that killed over 200. Lebanon’s situation has worsened since then - economic crisis, poverty, increasing, Covid, no hospital beds, no medicine, no electricity, no fuel - people feel that the government has forgotten they exist.
Lebanon has failed again to form a new government. President Michel Aoun wants help from other countries to overcome the deadlock. There is economic despair as political instability drives the currency down. As the currency dips further, the minimum wage sinks below that of third-world countries. It is unbelievable how little people are earning now. They are stuck in a vicious circle, with no end in sight. Each time the currency loses value, prices go up, and people can buy fewer daily essentials. A bottle of milk was 3,000 Lebanese lira, now it’s 8,000. But that same bottle of milk bought with US dollars is less than 50 cents. It becomes ¼ of the price for people with dollars, but the poor people pay over double the price. As the crisis worsens, people have nowhere to put their hope, so they are starting to put their hope in Christ.