Displaying items by tag: Lebanon
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.
14-year-old Mohammed, a Muslim street child without parental supervision, attended a local Sunday school for the entertainment and free food. Then he was challenged to receive Jesus. He said, ‘I waited until I got home, then at 3:00 am I said, “Lord Jesus, please help me. I am desperate, helpless, hopeless. I cannot take it any more. I need you.” Then within half an hour I slept, and I woke up in the morning excited. I took one of the many New Testaments from Sunday school and put it in my school bag and went to school and started telling people about my experience.’ He was thrilled that he had found the answers to his troubling questions, not where he expected in Islam, but in Christianity, and he boldly told everyone about Jesus. This turned more than a few heads. God had a plan for his life; to read his wonderful story, click the ‘More’ button.
The continuing trend of peace initiatives between Israel and its Arab neighbours are creating an upheaval of the Middle Eastern order. Please continue to pray for the people of Israel, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories as their leaders seek a stable footing in this season of realignment. Pray for a just and swift end to the Syrian civil war through the peace process that includes the Syrian regime, rebel and Kurdish factions. Pray that the Lord will continue to expose the duplicity and danger of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that the Lebanese people will continue to turn against terrorist groups and unite together in the formation of a new government. We pray for a shield of divine protection around the state of Israel, that the schemes of her enemies will be thwarted.
Lebanon faces a humanitarian emergency following the 4 August blast in Beirut port, and the psychological effects will not end once the dust settles, said Dr Ahmed Hankir, a psychiatrist. Some of the initial reactions to traumatic events include sadness, agitation, dissociation, and survivor’s guilt. While most ongoing reactions are normal responses to the incident, residents are being told that seeking help from a mental health professional is advised should they persist for more than a month after the blast. Help should also be immediately sought if someone is having severe reactions, such as suicidal ideas. Mental health services are expensive in Lebanon, but several organisations are providing services for individuals affected by the blast either at a reduced price or free. Pray for God’s strength and wisdom to pour through NGOs raising awareness around mental health, for those manning suicide prevention helplines and walk-in clinics.
On 4 August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing 181 deaths, 6,000 injuries, 10-15 billion US dollar in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
How is the Church faring in the midst of this horrible disaster?
Pierre Houssney of Horizons International says that when the government stepped down, the church stepped up. “Many Lebanese are ashamed of the way their government has failed to respond in any way to the explosion. It was like anarchy. But we could not be prouder of the Church, because churches almost instantly hit the ground.”
These churches, who have already been helping Syrian refugees in the country for years, immediately sent out teams to help clean up and distribute medical supplies and humanitarian aid. They also pray with people. “It's incredibly impactful and glorifying to Jesus,” says Houssney.
Many other Christian ministries are also answering the challenge.
Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), located in the mountains overlooking Beirut, was spared the worst of the emanating shockwaves. Having lost its students due to Covid-19, it had already opened its dormitories to frontline health workers. Now, in cooperation with the ‘Our Home, Your Home’ ministry, the seminary is welcoming a fraction of the 300,000 Lebanese displaced from their homes.
Resurrection Church of Beirut had many member families suffer damage to their homes. It has organized a furniture drive, and sent volunteers downtown to clean up the mess - for their community, and others. “Now is the time for the wounded church to rise again and be a healing agent of God’s restoring presence in a practical and caring way,” said pastor Hikmat Kashouh.
Lighthouse Arab World is temporarily shifting its media ministry to facilitate help to those on the street. Near East Organization was able to feed 250 people, aiming to continue this service for as long as needed.
Camille Melki heads up Heart for Lebanon, which began serving Lebanese displaced by the Israeli invasion in 2006, and now ministers to Syrian refugees. Their 60 volunteers have split into 5 teams to secure homes and clear broken glass. “It’s a mess. It’s a total mess,” he said. “But they have to be made safe to be lived in again.”
In times of calamity, even the wounded must keep serving. Abbas Sibai, multi-area projects coordinator with World Vision Lebanon, crawled under the fallen wall that had smashed against his back in the blast. He was hospitalized for his injuries, but is still pitching in. World Vision is putting together a fundraising campaign for food, medicine, and housing supplies, as its Beirut warehouse was severely damaged in the explosion.
SAT-7, a Christian satellite television broadcaster based in the Middle East, turned out to be a lifeline in the current storm. In the aftermath of the blast, thousands have been turning to the channel for reassurance and hope. “For those anxious and traumatized, we connect with professional counselors, offering balm for the troubled mind; with the grieving, we weep; with those on the edge of suicide, we pray and share the Hope of the world, Jesus Christ,” says Maroun Bou Rached, the executive director of SAT-7 in Lebanon. “As we mourn as a nation, we will be there every hour, every day - standing with our neighbors who are hurting, and those who ask: ‘Where is God in all this?’ By God's grace, Lebanon will rise from the dust and ashes to breathe again.”
The International Prayer Council called on Christians around the world to pray for a well-coordinated relief response, for the rioting and violence to stop and for God’s peace and order to prevail, for the healing of the nation as it is deeply wounded, for the church to rise up and fulfill its purpose and be a light in the midst of darkness, and for the economic recovery of Lebanon.
Two Lebanese ministries, Triumphant Mercy Lebanon and Witness as Ministry offered their channels for humanitarian support. They provide meals and medicine to vulnerable displaced people, help with boarding up busted windows and doors, and do street and home cleanups.
Source: Horizons International, ABTS, CT, Heart for Lebanon, World Vision, SAT-7, IPC, Triumphant Mercy Lebanon
More at: www.joelnews.org
To support the ongoing relief efforts through IPC's verified contacts on the ground in Beirut, see:
Triumphant Mercy Lebanon - https://tm-lebanon.com/
Witness as Ministry - www.wamcares.org/
Here are some prayer concerns that people close to the situation there in Beirut have shared.
Let’s pray specifically for:
1. For a well-coordinated relief response and that both the local and international NGOs will cooperate and work together in a synergistic manner to provide rapid and effective assistance.
2. The healing of the nation as it is deeply wounded and that the church will rise and fulfill its purpose and be a light in the midst of darkness.
3. For the rioting and violence to stop and for God’s peace and order to prevail.
4. That the Islamic agenda will not be able to be implemented.
5. For an independent judicial system that is not under political power so that corruption could be judged.
6. For the economic situation in Lebanon to be resolved and Lebanon to become prosperous again.
7. That the promises of God for Lebanon (being transformed in a moment into a fertile field) will be fulfilled.
8. That the many Syrian refugees who are in Lebanon will be able to go back home.
See the PrayerCast Video on Lebanon: www.prayercast.com/lebanon.html
The nations have been devastated to see the destruction in Beirut, but also inspired by the response of the help and support from church, communities, charities and media broadcasts from SAT-7. Presenter Marianne Awaraji Daou said, ‘Thank you for your prayers and support. We feel the unity of the body of Christ during these hard times, and this lifts us and blesses our hearts.’ One survivor speaking on a SAT-7 programme said, ‘The Lord is merciful and compassionate. Jesus protected me, my family, and the people I love. I thank Him every moment. I want to say that evil is increasing, but I believe that the Lord will use everyone who went through this disaster to be His witness. I believe that God works through our prayers and through those who help. My hope is in You, Lord.’