Hunter Williamson

On February 14, 2024, a significant gathering took place in Beirut, marking the inception of “Movement Day” aimed at fostering unity and collaboration among Christian leaders and organizations in Lebanon. Despite the drizzling rain enveloping the Lebanese capital, more than 100 local Christian leaders convened on a cold Wednesday morning for the inaugural Movement Day conference in the country.

Under the auspices of the Supreme Council of Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon (SCECSL), a coalition comprising the Beirut Nazarene Church, Heart for Lebanon, Kingdom Partnership Network, LightHouse AW, NexTech, Thimar-LSESD, and Total Care Lebanon organized the event. Their collective objective was to bring together local leaders from churches, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), businesses, and media. In doing so, the committee hoped to foster unity and partnerships that would enable the church to propel the Gospel across Lebanon.

The conference began at 8:30 am in the conference room of the Moore Conference Center at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. The room filled with music as the local band of the Nazarene Evangelical Church led the attendees in worship, followed by opening remarks delivered by two distinguished speakers.

Pastor Joseph Kassab, President of SCECSL, spoke first about the state of evangelicals today in Lebanon and how he was struck by the word “Movement,” a word that he believed carries a call to spread the Gospel.

Joseph Kassab

Next came Mac Pier, the visionary behind Movement Day. Pier explained how the initiative has reached more than 60,000 people in cities around the world, underscoring the strategic significance of hosting such an event in Beirut: “There’s a real conviction that Beirut is a city with extraordinary influence, not just in the Middle East, but really globally […]. So, it’s very strategic to be here, to bring diverse churches and leaders together. We believe that when God’s leaders come closer to each other, God becomes closer to the city.”

Lebanon’s distinctive religious pluralism and the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom rendered it an ideal setting for such an endeavor. Against the backdrop of ongoing regional tensions and internal socio-political challenges, Pier drew parallels between the biblical narrative of transformation and Lebanon’s journey towards resilience and renewal.

Mac Pier

As he spoke to the attendees, Pier cited verses from Isaiah 29 that seemed particularly apt as fighting rages along the southern Lebanese-Israeli border and the country continues to reel from more than four years of political and economic crises. 

“In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest?” Pier read. “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One.”

Pier stated that no other verses in the Bible describe a city and a nation better than the ones in Isaiah describe Beirut and Lebanon.

“God is bringing ashes into beauty all over this city and all over this nation,” Pier said. 

His words resonated with the audience, one deeply acquainted with gloom and darkness. Some of the audience lived through Lebanon’s bloody 15-year civil war that ended in 1990 and many of them had weathered Lebanon’s tumultuous history, including protracted civil strife, socio-economic crises, and recent geopolitical tensions.

Elie Haddad, the President of ABTS, a ministry of Thimar-LSESD, echoed calls for unity before and during the opening remarks, emphasizing collective effort towards one kingdom and the imperative to learn how to work together and engage with the world collaboratively. “The urgent need is for us to be an alternative group to the world, a pioneering model for human society, not conforming to the world, but not isolated from the world,” he said.

Movement Day Lebanon 2024
Elie Haddad

Needs and Solutions for Evangelizing

The subsequent sessions of the conference delved into collaborative strategies for addressing pressing needs within local communities, encompassing areas such as preparing the next generation of leaders, peacemaking, local mission mobilization, and the integration of faith-based principles within business practices.

Jennifer Mansour, founder of Little Melly, Baby Food & Snacks, led the discussion among business leaders, which focused on ways to support one another and advance the Gospel within the business sector.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been proactive about speaking about something like that,” Mansour said. “You talk about financial metrics and objectives, but do we ever think about our faith-based objectives?”

The discussions proved beneficial. Out of them came plans to create the Christian Businessmen Association, which will provide various forms of support and resources to business leaders. It will focus on networking and collaboration, spiritual support, professional development, Christian business resources, community engagement, ethical business practices, advocacy and representation, and mission and vision alignment.

In another room, representatives from more than 20 local FBOs held similar discussions. Hiba Al-Jamal, Director of SKILD Center, a ministry of Thimar-LSESD that provides education for special needs students, led the talk. In engaging discussions, participants said that they felt their organizations were doing their work on their own and that they needed to work together.

“We need somebody to unite us, to organize what we are doing, instead of judging each other in different ways,” Al Jamal said. She described the outcome of the discussions as positive and noted that, to the best of her knowledge, it was the first time that all the FBO representatives there had sat together.

“We’re kind of moving the country whether we like it or not, so it’s nice to have hands joined together,” she added.

Touma Mina, the pastor of the Church of God in the town of Zahle, said church leaders also found their sector discussions beneficial. His group recognized the need to build bridges between leaders in Lebanon; to expand ministries and join efforts to reach their communities through means like home groups; and, to help with job opportunities for young people, among other things.

Later, Mounir Mansour, speaking on behalf of the organizing committee, announced plans to facilitate cooperation between churches and FBOs to provide vocational guidance, internship opportunities, career path mentoring and training in Christian companies and institutions. Such partnership will lead to a Movement Youth Day, Mansour added.

He also announced a special request to Pastor Joseph Kassab for the reactivation of a pastors’ network through the Supreme Council of Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon. The network will aim to facilitate greater partnership between churches and in turn collaboration between churches, Christian business leaders, and young people.

 Moreover, the conference underscored the pivotal role of media in disseminating the Gospel message.

New Heights Executive Director Ronnie Bassous recognized the importance of the digital space for sharing the Gospel and the need for organizations, FBOs, and churches to partner to produce high-quality content.

Unity and Salt

 Throughout the proceedings, a resounding call for unity and collective action echoed, with participants recognizing the imperative of transcending sectarian divides and individualistic pursuits in pursuit of a shared vision of societal transformation.

Andrew Habakouk, a leader with Campus Crusade, shared:

 “Frankly, we all know what other people are doing most of the time. But this disunity among the believers is not pushing us to work with one another and to pray for one another and to pray with each other to see God’s Kingdom come to Lebanon,” he said. “Instead, we have built our own kingdoms. So, I hope that through things like this, we can identify these problems and work towards them more.”

The closing remarks emphasized the need for sustained commitment and collaborative action beyond the conference, with attendees challenged to nurture the seeds of change planted during the gathering.

Thimar-LSESD Chief Operations Officer Wissam Nasrallah reflected on the day: “What happened today was beautiful and encouraging,” Nasrallah said. Then he posed a question: “And now, where are we going? What’s next? When we gather on February 14, 2025, what are we going to say? When we look back at the year, what are we going to see?”

Sitting in their chairs, eyes looking forward, the leaders listened as he continued, turning from one participant to the next.

“Lebanon needs God’s people to be light and salt,” Nasrallah said. “We are 1 percent, but salt makes a great impact. It either makes the food taste good or bad.”

Outside, the winter rain continued to trickle. The sun had set, and light had begun to fade. But inside the conference room was light and warmth.

 “There was a seed that was planted today,” Nasrallah concluded. “Are we going to water it? Or are we going to let it die after a couple of days?”  

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This