The lead of Review Team and ABTS Board Member
I was privileged to be a participant at the Loving God and Neighbour conference which was a time of great blessing and inspiration. Along with nine others I had the additional privilege of being invited to be part of a listening, or review team with the task of contributing to Thimar’s review of strategic priorities for the next stage of ministry. This created the challenge to listen, not only to the speakers and panellists, but also to friends and supporters who shared their experiences of working in partnership with Thimar.
There was a deep appreciation of the humility of the leadership of Thimar who, with all their expertise and experience, truly value the fellowship and input of partners and supporters in discerning the will of God for future ministry. For many people there was a sense of awe, or amazement, at what Thimar, in all its various forms, manages to deliver, despite the enormous economic, social and political difficulties in Lebanon. The evidence of self-sacrifice in the service of others was humbling and the sight of so many gifted young staff involved in Thimar inspired a real sense of anticipation of future possibilities.
One of the features of Thimar has been the capacity to see and seize the opportunities in each upheaval within the region and once again they find themselves, as do all Lebanese, thrust into another period of uncertainty and possible jeopardy, due to events in Israel and Gaza. No matter how the developing war unfolds in the days to come, there will be ramifications for the church in Lebanon and the wider region. Thimar and the church across the Middle East will need our prayers and ongoing support.
It seems grossly unfair that, on top of the pressures of societal dysfunction, there looms further uncertainty and vulnerability. However, one of the partners at the conference observed that part of Thimar’s ministry has been to model and demonstrate to a comfortable and complacent church in the West a cruciform witness of what it means to follow Jesus – a Christ centred holistic witness in the midst of suffering. It is a special vocation, but I have no doubt that Thimar will continue to help the rest of us see something of what it means to abandon self-reliance and trust God for the wisdom and discernment to know how, in the midst of trouble, to live out the values and practices of the Kingdom of God.
We worship the one who is the Prince of Peace and yet, at the same time, with the prophet we cry, “How long, Lord, must I call for help? … Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.” Such is the challenge of being followers of Jesus, confident in his glory and kingship but living in the inbetween – the liminal space that calls for steadfast hope even in the face of violence and uncertainty.
Thimar, may your experience continue to be like that of faithful Habakkuk who, despite his distress at the situation around him, was able to say, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
David is a founding member of Irish Baptist Networks and a voluntary director. He is also the managing editor of the Amsterdam Series and serves as an International Board Consultant at ABTS.
Pray for THIMAR-LSESD’s Ministry on the Ground
THIMAR-LSESD works towards supporting people who are struggling to afford medications and basic needs, with and through local churches and community-based organizations within their vicinity and beyond.