By Tom Atema
Last week’s explosion in Lebanon has taken an already unbelievable year and made it inconceivable.
Almost one year ago political protests took place all over the country of Lebanon, mostly in downtown Beirut, and continued into 2020 which fueled a financial downward spiral that has left the nation in dire need. Then COVID-19 struck and now the event of the third worst explosion in world history is adding to the burdens of the Lebanese people. By one mathematical estimate, around 20% of the Hiroshima atom-bomb went off at the port of Beirut.
As we try to process all this happening to a nation the size of Vermont, with 4 million residents and 2 million refugees (Lebanon already hosts the largest global per capita refugee population In the world), these tragedies are compounding and creating more difficulties, and a greater risk for families to suffer from starvation in Lebanon in the year 2020.
Just in one week an additional:
- 300 fatalities (many more of the missing presumed blown out to sea!),
- 96% of the grain reserves gone (for a country that has to import most of their food and for a bread culture this is devastating.)
- 300,000+ suddenly homeless in a country without much low-income or temporary housing
It’s an unprecedented crisis.
The resilience of the Lebanese people, with help from others around the world, will rebuild this beautiful land. In the meantime, each one of these crises leads to opportunities to share the love of Jesus Christ with people who are desperately hurting, both physically and spiritually.
As Heart for Lebanon has said from day one in 2006, we will continue to help people unconditionally with their physical needs and, after building trust and growing a relationship with them, then their emotional and spiritual needs.
Over the next few months Heart for Lebanon will continue to focus on helping as many people, churches, and businesses as we can. Then we’ll be moving into more long-term compassionate Family Care through local evangelical churches in Beirut, helping as many families as we can with the goal of making disciples.
While the world has pledged close to $100 million to help restore downtown Beirut, it cannot restore the emotional and spiritual needs of a person.
Every crisis causes a person to either blame God or to reach out to Him and ask why. Then people ask questions to those around them during times of crisis and this gives us an opportunity. Pausing to love, listen, and answer questions restores their need for authentic relationship and opens the door to a spiritual conversation.
Please pray for us as we lead people from despair to hope – Hope in Jesus Christ.
Our number one prayer request is that we will use this unfortunate situation as another opportunity to affectively share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Co-founder of Heart for Lebanon