With the rise of globalization and the demand for instant around-the-clock news, people from different countries are increasingly aware of events that occur far away from their country’s borders. One very recent example is that of the rescue mission to save a Thai boys’ soccer team stuck in a cave under water in Thailand. The unfortunate event, which made headlines in news stations across the globe, has even been the topic of conversation for many people all the way in Beirut, Lebanon.
Although this kind of accessibility to international news is definitely beneficial, it has somewhat created a numbness in human reaction towards war and bloodshed. We have grown so accustomed to images of destroyed bridges, shops, homes and schools. Even worse, stories of ethnic genocides, innocent children suffocating of chemical bombs, suicide bombers at local markets and airstrike attacks on schools have become the norm.
Seven years into the Syrian crisis and the war has produced countless stories of destruction and despair affecting the lives of Syrians both inside and outside their country. In Lebanon for example, Syrian refugee women are very often forced to work as prostitutes and escorts in order to survive. Considering that prostitution is illegal in Lebanon, these women are not only selling their bodies they are also running the risk of going to jail.
Sisters Farah, Dalal and Khadijeh were victims of prostitution when their father, along with their husbands, decided that they must become prostitutes in order to bring in some money. All three sisters have no say against their father’s will since, in Islam, women are expected to give their allegiance to the patriarch of the family. Their customers are often wealthy men from neighboring Arab countries who at times ask for all three women at once.
It is because of heartbreaking stories like this that Heart for Lebanon continues to serve amongst Syrian refugees. At Heart for Lebanon, we seek to deliver Jesus’s unfailing love and compassion in everything that we do so that hope may be restored in the lives of those experiencing despair.
In our holistic approach to ministry we recognize the importance of providing physical, spiritual and social needs. Along with our monthly food portion and weekly women’s Bible study meetings, Heart for Lebanon provides literacy and health awareness programs for Syrian refugee women. At the literacy program, women who were not given the opportunity to go to school are learning how to read and write in Arabic. Soon, these women will be able to read the Bible on their own. As for the health awareness program, it is an opportunity to teach women about hygiene and other health related topics so that they may grow to be self-reliant.
At Heart for Lebanon we have a desire to move people from despair to hope in Jesus Christ. Our prayer for these women is that Christ continues transforming their lives as they learn more about his word.