During the Lebanese civil war (1975-1991) my father used to tell me: son, don’t worry, it can’t get any worse, things will get better soon. I wanted to wholeheartedly believe him. But it seemed that things kept going from bad to worse during our bloody 17 years of war to the extent that our nation was completely destroyed. I lived through the civil war to see tens of thousands of people killed, hundreds of thousands of people immigrating, and to see our economy in total collapse. The end result was the loss of a whole generation either by death or by immigration.
Watching how things have been developing in our nation the last two years, I wonder if the country of Lebanon is on the verge of another civil war. To date, the guns are silent – thank God for that. My prayer is that this will continue to be the case. But the economy is more shattered than it has ever been and our society is more divided than before. It feels like we have not learned from our recent past. Instead, we seem to be heading towards total chaos. The country of Lebanon has been operating without a government for 10 months. Our political leaders are failing to lead in times of crisis. They have sold their souls to selfish desires and for personal gain. Once again, young and bright men and women, capable of making a difference, are giving up on Lebanon and looking elsewhere to call home. In the midst of despair, immigration is on a sharp rise.
We need a new generation for Christ – selfless, honest, and Godly individuals. For Lebanon to rebound from this current crisis, the faith community needs to rise up to the challenge. It is imperative that every follower of Christ be a responsible citizen; leading by example. This is our opportunity to show the love of Jesus in tangible and meaningful ways. Jesus himself came in desperate times. Our Lord showed us what it means to love our enemies and to forgive those who have done us wrong. He took a bunch of broken, poor, marginalized individuals and turned them into world-changers. With His painful death and victorious resurrection, Christ led us out of despair into eternal hope in Him.
I have frequently been asked, in the past few months, if I have given up on Lebanon. My answer is always no, not at all. Unlike my father, I don’t look at the situation we are in as “it can’t get any worse, thus it should get better soon.” Most probably, the worst is still ahead of us. Still, and despite this bleak image, I am confident we are made for such a time as this. We exist to help lead people out of this overwhelming despair into hope only given to us by our Heavenly Father.
Heart for Lebanon came into existence exactly 15 years ago, in the midst of a crisis (July 2006 war) and continues to serve in times of crisis. Our team is dedicated to serve the lost and broken. We are currently caring for nearly 24,000 individuals in every given month. Young and old, male and female, locals and refugees, Muslims and Christians… everyone is loved and cared for in the name of Jesus. Thousands of food packages and hygiene supplies are distributed every month. Once the love of Christ is shown, people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds are amazed at this generosity given freely and unconditionally. This leads them to seek to know about this Jesus we call Lord and Savior. Betrayed and forgotten by their own earthly leaders; locals and refugees in Lebanon are yearning for role models who help restore their trust in humanity. This is our moment in history! We can not fail the mission! The needs around us are overwhelming… but the opportunities are much greater.
Heart for Lebanon is not about feeding people – although caring for the hungry is a major part of our work. Heart for Lebanon is not an educational institution – although literacy programs for adults and non-formal education for children are a core component of what we do. Heart for Lebanon is not your typical humanitarian organization – although responding in times of crisis has been front and center to everything we do. Heart for Lebanon is about leading people from despair to hope – we are called to make disciples, followers of Jesus Christ.
We have hundreds of individuals in our Bible Study Groups and Discipleship Classes in every given week. Over a thousand individuals attend one of our worship services every weekend. Those are people who have experienced severe hardships. They come from various walks of life; many of whom were born in a Muslim community. Who they were before Christ does not matter! Who they are in Christ today is all that matters! And who they aim to be in Christ in the coming days and years matters even more!
Join us in prayer as we continue to strive in raising a new generation for Christ in Lebanon and beyond.