By Camille Melki
The news from the Middle East is somewhat gloomy these days. Both Lebanon and Syria are on top of every news report in the region. The Kurdish situation in Northern Syria is escalating dramatically and the demonstrations in Lebanon are ongoing. For weeks now, both Lebanese and Kurds fear for their future.
Those in Lebanon are concerned that the demonstrations will get out of hand and that the peaceful protests, after a month, will turn violent if the government does not respond soon to the demands of its people. The World Bank has recently declared that the worsening economic situation in Lebanon has raised the percentage of those living at or below the poverty line from 30% to 50%.
On the other hand, the war in Northern Syria continues to cause more death and destruction especially among the Kurdish community. Hundred of thousands of civilians have been forcibly displaced from their homes and villages. The conflict continues and the humanitarian crises will for sure deepen as the winter months approach.
At Heart for Lebanon, the news is quiet opposite. Even though our field ministry was affected by the recent developments in our country and our Hope Ministry Center dedication had to be postponed to a later date, our team had the privilege to celebrate the baptism of 27 men and women, most of whom are Kurdish refugees that we serve.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Heart for Lebanon has been providing humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of individuals. Today, and because of our unconditional relational approach to Family Care, our ministry grew in impact and outreach. Hundreds of individuals from Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon are attending our Bible study groups. The same is true for our two Worship Gatherings. The attendance in our Sunday morning services, both in the Bekaa Valley and in Southern Lebanon, has multiplied since the beginning of 2019.
This growth is especially evident among the Kurdish refugee community which encouraged us to start a Bible study in Kurdish, lead by our Kurdish staff and volunteers. This Kurdish Bible study began mid 2019 and it is being held on Wednesday evenings. In just few months the numbers have jumped to 200 participants. Because of that, our Leadership Team made the decision to change this Bible study into a third Worship Gathering which means that the Hope Evangelical Church, meeting at our Hope Ministry Center in Zahleh now has an Arabic speaking church on Sunday morning and a Kurdish speaking church on Wednesday evening. In addition, we will start two new Bible study groups in Kurdish starting in January 2020.
Our thoughts go out to those who are affected by the war in Syria and by the economic crises in Lebanon. At the same time, our hearts are set on making every effort to show the love of Jesus to those who are suffering the most. We are reminded that there is no better time then now to help lead people from despair to hope in Christ Jesus. God is writing a beautiful story among the Kurdish refugee population. Praise His Holy Name.
Thank you for joining us in prayer for those who were baptized last week and for those who are in discipleship classes, preparing for their baptism in the months to come.