By Dr. Brenda Richards Brown, MEBO Board Secretary
“Yes, I have thought about suicide.”
“I am worried about my friend. She seems to have given up on life.”
Sadly, these words were shared at a Suicide Prevention workshop we were privileged to give at Beirut’s Haigazian University in November. We hear these words not just in Lebanon but all over the world. Suicide rates have escalated over the past two years. The pandemic, isolation, social media bullying, abuse… all have contributed to these feelings of despair, to the point where more and more people are considering taking their life.
This desperation in people’s lives contributed to why my husband Dale and I began a ministry giving Suicide Prevention workshops wherever God opens a door. This topic causes people who have experienced this despair or who have been touched by the ripple effects of suicide to be very vulnerable as they listen and share. This often leads to opportunities to talk about God’s love during individual conversations at breaks or after the workshops.
I have been blessed to travel to Beirut 16 times over the past 11 years sharing with LSESD ministries in education, refugee work, children’s camps, and with medical teams. On this trip, Dale came, as well as Dr. Carolyn Bishop, President of Consortium for Global Education, and Dr. Jeff Moore from Anderson University.
One of the main purposes of this trip was to provide workshops that dealt with the stress of life for university students, teachers, professors, counselors and social workers for Haigazian University and Beirut Baptist School. Dale and I taught about how to recognize the signs of suicide and not miss, dismiss, or avoid them, as well as what to do when you are concerned that someone has reached that level of despair.
As an educator, I was especially concerned about the teachers and professors, because I knew how difficult these past two years have been in Lebanon. Dr. Moore and I were able to share thoughts about trauma healing from the aspect of how the brain handles trauma, as well as how our heart reacts to trauma.
The Lebanese are amazing, beautiful people! They are weary, yet they continue to live life through extremely difficult circumstances. Their resilience is strong, but they need our prayers, our support, and encouragement. It was a blessing to go and share life with them for a little while.
Carolyn introduced me to Lebanon in 2011, and she and I have traveled there many times together, seeking to minister alongside of our friends at LSESD. This was Dale and Jeff’s first trip but without a doubt, I am sure it will not be their last. Our four hearts came back to the States full of thankfulness for our friends there, for the work they continue to do for the Lord, and prayerful as we seek more ways to support them.
Brenda is a motivational speaker in education, parenting and suicide awareness/intervention. She also serves on the board of Middle East Bible Outreach (MEBO), which exists to serve as the US fiscal sponsor and a bridge of support from global believers to the LSESD family of ministries serving the Middle East.