Story

A Family Touched by Hope

Approximately a decade ago, Riyad, his wife, and their four children were forced to flee their home in Aleppo, Syria, due to the extreme danger and indiscriminate shelling in their city. Their journey led them to Lebanon, specifically a refugee camp in the southern part of the country. Like many others, they had hoped their displacement would be temporary and that they could return home once the situation stabilized. Little did they know that their temporary stay in Lebanon would extend for such a long period.

In Lebanon, the family found a degree of stability, and Riyad began working as a farmer to support his loved ones. It was during this time that he first learned about Heart for Lebanon and the invaluable support it provides to those in need. Seeing an opportunity to secure essential food assistance for his family, Riyad promptly registered.

As one of the organization’s teams conducted follow-up visits to the family, the family came to know them more. Their children, inspired by the initiatives available, began participating in various programs and events. These activities not only provided them with a sense of belonging but also an opportunity for personal growth and development.

For Riyad, the impact of Heart for Lebanon went beyond food assistance. He discovered and attended a Bible study organized within the camp, held at a neighbor’s house. The experience left a lasting impression on him. He spoke of his curiosity and growing interest, saying, “I attended Bible study gatherings at our neighbor’s house in the camp and I loved the way things were explained. I felt curious to come every month.” This initial engagement was a turning point, as he and his wife started attending Bible studies together, opening the door to intellectual, spiritual, and mental growth with each class.

Their commitment to learning and understanding the Bible deepened their connection with Heart for Lebanon, and they embraced their participation in the activities wholeheartedly. This included the children’s programs and more Bible studies, which enriched their lives and faith.

However, life took an unexpected and harrowing turn when Riyad was abducted while on a mission to secure residence permits and passports for his family at the embassy. He encountered someone at the embassy who offered to help but ended up being part of a group that kidnapped him and held him captive. For days, he endured severe beatings and threats, and his family received distressing messages demanding a substantial ransom for his release.

Riyad’s family faced immense pressure and fear, but they united to negotiate with the kidnappers. After arranging a significant sum, they secured Riyad’s release and welcomed him back home. He spent two weeks in captivity, and the experience was grueling, but Riyad’s resilience and faith sustained him.

Remarkably, Riyad drew strength from his faith during his ordeal, recalling the lessons of patience, endurance, and Jesus’s teachings that he had absorbed during his Bible studies. He said, “During my abduction, I remembered what I had learned from the Bible study about patience, persecution, and the teachings of Jesus Christ.” This faith provided him with the reassurance and hope he needed during his darkest moments.

Today, Riyad has returned to his grateful and relieved family. Bible study sessions continue to be a source of strength for him and his wife. Their understanding of the Holy Bible deepens, and they are filled with gratitude for the invaluable spiritual support and teachings they receive through their association with Heart for Lebanon.