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Story

Widad’s Story

Widad’s story is one of resilience and perseverance. Born in 1962 in Kherbet Kanafar, a town in West Bekaa, Lebanon, she grew up in a bustling household with four brothers and three sisters. Her father managed both a cow farm and a sheep farm, instilling in Widad the values of hard work and determination.

Seeking better educational opportunities, her family relocated to Beirut, the capital city, where they enrolled in a private school. After completing her studies, Widad met Daher, who later became her husband. Daher worked in the construction industry, supporting the family with his income, and together they raised three children.

In 1985, their lives took a devastating turn when Daher was diagnosed with cancer. The family sold their assets, including their house, to cover medical expenses, but despite their efforts, Daher succumbed to the illness after a yearlong battle.

Left as the sole provider, Widad faced immense challenges. Despite financial constraints, she took a job in a clothing store while also enrolling in a public university to study nursing. Her determination to improve her family’s quality of life led her to obtain her nursing certificate, and she worked tirelessly as a nurse in a hospital.

Widad’s dedication allowed her to support her children until they established their households. However, in 2013, she faced another hurdle when she was diagnosed with cancer herself. Fortunately, her job at the hospital provided access to social security, easing the burden of treatment expenses, and she successfully overcame the disease.

At the age of 54, Widad retired from her nursing career, but her financial struggles persisted, exacerbated by Lebanon’s economic crisis in 2019. Unable to afford her apartment rent, she made the difficult decision to relocate to the Bekaa region for more affordable living, relying on financial support from her children to make ends meet.

During a routine visit from members of ‘Heart for Lebanon,’ Widad found solace and spiritual guidance. Grateful for the opportunity to address her questions and deepen her faith, she began attending Bible study sessions regularly.

“I am thankful for your willingness to address my numerous questions,” she expressed, “and I pray that God continues to grant strength and guide the growth of the church.” Widad’s resilience and unwavering faith serve as an inspiration to all who know her story.

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Story

A Christian Journey

Gharam is a name that means passionate love. Her journey traverses landscapes of both physical displacement and inner turmoil, each step marked by the weight of separation and the scars of conflict. Born into the chaos of war-torn Syria, Gharam’s childhood was eclipsed by the shadows of violence and uncertainty. Amidst the wreckage of her homeland, she learned to survive on her own. Her innocence was tainted by the harsh realities of conflict.

Crossing the border into Lebanon with her family, Gharam’s journey continued into unfamiliar territory, where the challenges of displacement seemed insurmountable. The refugee camp they settled in offered little break from the trauma they left behind, with cramped quarters resembling dungeons rather than homes, and the constant struggle to secure even the most basic necessities of life.

Amidst the desolation, a glimmer of hope emerged. Introduced to the Heart for Lebanon and Biblical lessons at Hope Evangelical Church, Gharam found solace in the embrace of faith. Through the prayers of a compassionate relative, she began to explore the redemptive power of Christ’s work, seeking refuge in the promises of salvation and renewal.

Though societal norms imposed barriers and restrictions, Gharam defied expectations with unwavering courage and determination. “Rather than succumbing to despair, I decided to embrace my newfound faith in Christ and decided not to be ashamed of it,” Gharam said. She wanted to learn it deeply, share it widely, and live it wholeheartedly.

Inspired by the story of the adulterous woman saved by Jesus’ compassion, Gharam found echoes of her struggles in the pages of scripture. Through prayer, she experienced a profound shift in perspective, transcending the bitterness of anger and despair to embrace a sense of peace in knowing that she is forgiven.

Despite the past and the hardships she faced, through God’s word working in her life, she emerged from the pot of conflict with the Holy Spirit living within her, giving her purpose and a steadfast commitment to sharing her testimony of hope with others.

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Story

Transformative Hope Unveiled

Education stands as more than just a fundamental human right; it is a ticket for a brighter future, especially for children navigating the turbulent waters of challenging social landscapes. It serves as a transformative force, nurturing not only academic skills but also essential qualities of character and moral integrity. Within the walls of our Hope Educational Center, this vision finds vibrant manifestation. Here, education is not merely a means to acquire knowledge but a holistic journey that integrates academic learning with Christian living and the wisdom of the Holy Bible, nurturing young minds with spiritual, moral, and human values.

In the story of Rahaf Chakhabi, we encounter a moving narrative of resilience and aspiration. Despite her initial timidity, Rahaf’s spirit radiates with a passion for learning that surpasses the boundaries of conventional education. Dreaming of a future as a medical doctor, her aspirations are not just rooted in personal ambition but in a profound sense of duty to ease suffering and offer comfort to those in need. “I strive so that my siblings also benefit from this opportunity, given to us by God,” she said. In her, we witness the effect of knowledge, and how to touch the lives of those around.

Rahaf’s journey is not solely defined by her academic pursuits; it is a story of knowing Jesus, getting closer to Him, and devotion to prayer. Her newfound abilities extend beyond mere literacy; they cultivate essential social values such as cooperation, empathy, and generosity. Rahaf’s selflessness transcends her aspirations; she endeavors to uplift her siblings, ensuring they too benefit from the opportunities afforded by education.

Her father’s pride and joy mirror the profound impact of our Hope Educational Center, elevating not just Rahaf’s academic achievements but also her spiritual growth and moral development. “Thank you for taking care of my daughter and changing her life,” he said.

In heartfelt gratitude, the sentiment is expressed, “Thank you, Lord, for making Hope Educational Center a channel for your blessings, touching the lives of every child and their families, including myself and my family,” she concluded.

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Newsletter

Summer of Hope Kickoff

Heart for Lebanon is launching “Summer of Hope”. Join us for a live conversation just days before it’s launched. 

Now more than ever Lebanon is in dire need of the Gospel. The already strained situation in Lebanon is being exacerbated by the repercussions of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. 

Heart for Lebanon is raising up a new generation, a generation that will not revert to anger, to hatred, to revenge, but rather reverts to love, forgiveness, and acceptance that Jesus provides. 

Join us for a special call with our co-founders on May 22nd @10am focusing on our Summer of Hope. Why is now the time to reach the children affected by war and regional conflict? What happens if we do not reach them now?

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Newsletter

Overcomplicating Generosity

We are all faced with a multitude of different things that are competing for our attention and so we have become prone to falling into that trap of stretching ourselves too thin and saying yes to one more thing that we think will define what we stand for and contribute to the “legacy” we want to build for ourselves. This sentiment is most certainly true in the West and in other areas of the world where time is of the essence and name recognition has become the gold standard. For individuals and families living in a state of extreme vulnerability and sudden spiritual and physical poverty, time seems to have halted quickly and the days are long reminding many of the state of despair they are confronted with. This latter reality is what most of the people living in Lebanon are facing.

Legacy planning, and future strategic thinking among Christians in Lebanon has become extremely rare because of the imminent physical needs that need to be met. Surprisingly though, the exact opposite mindset can be found at both of Heart for Lebanon’s Hope Evangelical Churches (Zahleh & Ghazieh). In a recent conversation with our lead pastors of each respective church, they expressed their admiration for those living out their faith generously through the life of the church in different forms but most surprisingly in their commitment to tithe from what little they have. With no resources or planning guides to help them plan out their finances, individuals who have been touched by the ministry of Heart for Lebanon and have been transformed by the Hope that is found in Christ have been worshiping with their resources for greater Kingdom impact.

Hearing our pastors share story after story of the difficult situations that the families endure is a testimony of their simple act of obedience toward God’s commandment of giving Him what He has blessed us with. Heart for Lebanon is a ministry that believes in the transformative power of the Gospel when spoken in the context of a credible relationship to make disciples of Jesus Christ. One of our core beliefs is to add value to the people we serve. By adding value to them with a message of Christ’s Hope, they are leaving a Legacy that will change the Kingdom here on earth and in heaven. Likewise, when we slow down and realize that leaving an earthly legacy is not about our material possessions and that generosity has only become complicated because of competing earthly desires, we are able to leave a Christ-centered legacy.

For our partners and friends who live in the United States, Heart for Lebanon has partnered with Financial Planning Ministries (FPM), a trusted Christian nonprofit organization that serves over 150 ministry partners. FPM and Heart for Lebanon both believe in Christ-centered stewardship. By advocating for Christ-centered stewardship and responsible estate planning, FPM has helped individuals protect their resources from going to probate and has directed an estimated two billion dollars towards Christian organizations through planned giving.

If you would like to learn more about this partnership and what it can mean for you, please reach out to May-Lee Melki Constantine at may-lee.melki@heartforlebanon.org

Together we are leaving a Legacy in the form of a generation of disciples who will positively impact Lebanon and the region to reflect the love of Christ.

May-Lee Melki Constantine
Strategic Engagement Manager

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Newsletter

Heart for Lebanon’s Endowment Fund

by Tom Atema

The Heart for Lebanon’s Endowment Fund is to provide support for our ministry work in Lebanon, especially in the area of Missional Leadership Development.  The financial support this Endowment Fund will provide is above and beyond the programs supported through the yearly operating budget.

This fund provides ways and structures for financial investors who have the desire to help Heart for Lebanon accomplish its mission of making disciples* through charitable giving that is consistent with their own, and Heart for Lebanon’s mission and purpose to extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

Today, many in the Missional Leadership Development program are leading small groups and discipling others in homes across Southern Lebanon. This fund will allow these groups to expand and multiply.  The men and women who are accepted into this program may also receive Family Care items, enrollment in the H.O.P.E. (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) Program for their children, and their children may be part of Hope on Wheels Activities. These men and women will be part of our relational engagement environments – Bible Studies and Worship Gatherings.

Annually, the Financial Committee meets to recommend to the Board of Directors the distribution (if any) to be made from the Endowment Fund. The principle of the Endowment Fund cannot be used, so just the interest is used for funding. There is no obligation to make distributions from the Endowment Fund in any given year. The Endowment Fund is not intended for normal operating budgeted expenditures or additional programs of Heart for Lebanon. Its intended purpose is to be used for Heart for Lebanon’s Missional Leadership Development Program(s).  No administration or fundraising cost are taken out and every dollar given goes 100% into this fund.

For more information contact Tom at tom.atema@heartforlebanon.org

*Heart for Lebanon’s definition of a disciple:  “One who is a follower of Jesus Christ and is becoming increasingly more like Him, does life in community with others, helps others, and is sharing their faith.”

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Newsletter

The Church is a Center for Education!


by Camille Melki

Places of worship, predominantly churches, were historically built at the center of towns and villages. In fact, the development of those towns and villages were built around them making churches a gathering place for everything: for worship, for refuge, for town meetings, and for education.

Churches were known as a gathering place. They were a trusted place to go to when danger/need arose. They were also a place where education was offered for the young and old. Caring churches offered good education, both Biblical and academic. Until today, the best schools and universities in Lebanon were started and are owned and operated by Christian institutions. 

We at Heart for Lebanon desire for our Hope Ministry Centers in Zahleh and Ghazieh to continue to be these trusted places to go. Our teams work hard to help the communities around us feel welcomed and drawn to the love and care they receive at any of our Hope Evangelical Church services. Our church communities are gathering places for people of all backgrounds. Locals and refugees from Christian, Muslim, Kurdish, or Arab backgrounds, are all welcome.  The goal is to provide the best services so that people who walk through our doors will quickly realize that we are truly driven by the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ and that we exist to see lives changed and communities transformed.

Sunday School classes are both fun and educating. For some children, a Sunday School class is the first opportunity to hear the Jesus story. Bible stories are taught and Biblical principles are lived out among the students and their teachers. Sunday School makes church relevant to children and their families; it makes Christian education a center piece in the lives of the old and young.

The same is true for the two Hope Schools we have in Zahleh and Ghazieh. The educational curriculum is one of the best. It is built to provide a safe learning environment for children at risk. Our teachers are well trained and equipped to address the emotional needs of students who have gone through traumatic experiences from the on-going war in Syria and the conflict in Lebanon. Teaching Arabic, English, math, science and other subjects is very important. But at times, a teacher is obliged to deviate from a prepared lesson to help a student who seems to be struggling with emotional pain of the present and the past. This is only right. This is another opportunity to show the love of Christ in meaningful and tangible ways. It also gives other students the opportunity to live out what they have learned from the various Bible character traits they learned in Chapel or in one of their Bible class hours. 

Students and parents take education seriously. They are well aware that in order to properly address poverty, education needs to be front and center of their development. Education improves knowledge and skills. Christian education builds character. Put together, a good Christian-based school offers knowledge and skill development grounded on a sound and healthy Biblical foundation. This is the mission of our educational program. We desire to graduate future leaders in their societies; individuals capable and willing to lead with integrity.

Each of our churches this summer will continue to have special activities for the children and youth that are both fun, educational and Bible centered.

At Heart for Lebanon, we desire to put the church back at the center of education. We strive to see the church at the heart of a child’s formation and character building. We pray that our churches, our ministry centers, and our non-formal educational programs are always looked at as a trusted place for learning and growing. We also pray that our communities of faith are a safe and welcoming environment for those who are seeking answers and are looking for the truth. We are here to lead people from despair to hope in Christ. Education is this great tool to help us accomplish this goal!

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Newsletter

Journey of Hope Podcast

By Elio Constantine

Jesus used parables. We are using podcasts.

Journey of Hope is Heart for Lebanon’s podcast, a key ministry platform of The Middle East Center for Justice and Missions. Each episode is designed to tell the story of moving people from despair to hope. Just as Jesus told stories in parables for people at the time to understand, we’re using podcasting to tell the story in ways we are familiar with today. “Journey of Hope” will give you the chance to listen in on conversations with ministry and field experts talking about different ways people are served in the country of Lebanon, how to ensure the effectiveness of this work, and most exciting of all, you will listen to firsthand stories of change and discipleship.

In-depth Exploration of Ministry in the Middle East: Go beyond the first layer of talking about ministry. “Journey of Hope” engages in deeper understanding of ministry in such a unique place in our world. Exploring the historical, ethnic, and cultural contexts of Lebanon and the region.

Meaningful Conversations: Each interview will feature ministry and field experts fully immersed in the work of ministry with Heart for Lebanon, as well as firsthand stories of individuals and families impacted by the love of Christ.

Universal Application: Biblical principles are universal and practical. Find out how Heart for Lebanon’s holistic approach to ministry can be put into practice in your own community anywhere in the world.

Interactive Format: “Journey of hope” encourages dialogue and conversations. Feel free to reach out to us with questions and thoughts on:  podcast@hearforlebanon.org

“Journey of Hope” is a platform to advocate for Justice in a place so desperately in need of it. Not the punitive approach to justice you might think of, Biblical justice seeks restoration and reconciliation to repair the harm done. Not to punish the offender, but build right relationships between individuals and communities. (Leviticus 24:17-22)

Ready to be part of the journey?

Subscribe to “Journey of Hope ” on your favorite podcast platform, or sign up for updates here, and start you own journey from despair to hope. Let every episode be an inspiration for you to learn more about what God is doing in Lebanon and the Middle East, and ignite your passion to look around you and find ways to minister in your own community.