The coronavirus is now officially spreading through Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, as well as in other countries in the Middle East. This follows a harsh winter and unprecedented economic and financial crises that have already severely impacted the most vulnerable.
The war in Syria is far from over. Since early December, over one million people from the Syrian province of Idlib have been displaced with nowhere to find refuge. In other places that are considered “safer”, humanitarian needs have never been greater.
The Syrian crisis has dragged hundreds of thousands of children away from their homes and communities, forcing them to live in places where they face harsh living conditions, are deprived of educational opportunities, and do not feel welcomed. In this challenging context, our partner churches are answering their calling to welcome vulnerable children and their families and care for them, giving them a chance at a more hopeful future.
At the Christmas event, I met a 9 or 10-year-old child who told me, “Jesus healed me!” His mom explained that when they came to Lebanon her child could hardly walk without leg braces. He had been suffering for some time and was scheduled for a hip replacement! When the mother shared her concern about the surgery with the church, the sisters and brothers prayed over the child. Soon after, the mother and child went to the surgeon for a pre-surgery appointment where, to their amazement, they were informed that the bone was healing and that there was no need for surgery. Today, the boy walks normally and without any braces. God is good!
Wave after wave of violence has threatened to extinguish the light of Christ in Iraq as the country has been vacated of over two thirds of its Christian population since the early 2000s. And yet, at least one pastor and his congregation can be highlighted as having stood firm in the face of the temptation to flee and chosen to shine as bright lights in the impending darkness.
What if a story of hope came out of the Middle East instead of the usual news of war and chaos? What if you had a chance to partake in this story of hope?
Imagine that you are held at gunpoint waiting to be executed by the foreign soldiers who are terrorizing your land. You close your eyes and anticipate the pull of the trigger that will end your life in an instant when suddenly a miracle occurs, and your executioners are blown away by the blast of a friendly tank shell.
Our small team from New Zealand comprised two dentists, one general practitioner and two Tearfund NZ staff members. This visit to Lebanon was saturated with history, culture, hospitality, and stories of the redemptive power of God’s love in the marginalized of Lebanese society.