Testimony from the Streets of Beirut

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The devastation that has ripped through Lebanon over the course of recent years is hard to encapsulate in a single story. It’s multi-faceted and far-reaching. From the influx of Syrian refugees to the explosion in Beirut’s largest port to Covid-19 which has not only forced a medical crisis, but also an economic one, this region has been pummeled. Death, destruction, homelessness, starvation, structural ruin have battered the Lebanese people and those who went there seeking refuge.

It’s hard for most in the western world to even imagine the conditions many have been forced to survive in. And as Mission ONE partners remain there to aid, support and, restore the homes and hearts of those they encounter, we’re blown away by the persevering faith of those living through times like these.

Physical Work After the Explosion

In the wake of the explosion, there was mass destruction and an immense amount of work to be done. The team in Beirut has been helping in every possible way. From cleaning debris from the streets to supplying beds for people to sleep in, the partners have been on the ground working directly with those who were most impacted.

On August 4th, 2020, an explosion of ammonium nitrate exploded in the port, leading to the deaths of at least 200 people, wounding at least 6,500, doing an estimated 10-15 billion dollars of property damage, and an estimated 300,000 were left homeless. The team in Lebanon quickly jumped to action on the ground: assessing damage and basic needs of the communities of St. Michael and Karantina, cleaning up the streets that were filled with debris, distributing food and basic hygienic necessities, and meeting with people to listen to stories and pray with them.

The team has completed work on 80 homes – fixing doors, aluminum frames, walls, and painting. They have also replaced 40 beds and mattresses and replaced appliances. They hope to finish around 20 more before the end of the year. They have also helped at least 2 families with fixing their automobiles (both connecting them to body shops and paying for the repairs).

There has been a lot of collaboration among smaller NGOs in Beirut that has allowed them to exponentially expand the reach both financially speaking and manpower. This is not the norm for this part of the world, so it has been encouraging for the team to see the Lord open doors for a larger impact.

Spiritual Work After the Explosion

“They kept saying, ‘You must be from God to do all of this for us!  And you are an angel from heaven!”

Time and time again we see that the Divine, spiritual work needed in the world is directly tied to the selfless, physical labors of our partners. The opportunity to pray, introduce the Bible, and share the gospel comes after the partners have dirtied their hands and worked alongside the people whom they are serving.

It’s easy to disregard physical labor as inferior to intellectual and spiritual labor, but the experiences in Beirut and all over the world have shown otherwise. There is wisdom and grace to be found in picking up a shovel, moving debris, and assisting in repairs.

This relief project has had a massive effect on the lives of the people of Beirut. The sentiment that keeps being expressed is that the team are the people that say they will help and get right to work, unlike many others in the community. Their diligence to meet people, see the need and show up the next day ready to work has had a profound impact on families in Beirut and has given their witness validity. Especially as winter sets in, the community needs proper windows and doors in order to stay warm and safe.

Physically speaking, people’s homes are being rebuilt where they were destroyed. Economically speaking, the work that the team is doing free of charge will keep people from going into debt or poverty. They have also been able to generously give money to business owners who have not been able to reopen because of damage. The Lord is using the team to open up blind eyes to the truth of the gospel because of the way they are working and meeting needs. Seeds that are being planted are producing fruit and they are seeing many people come to the Lord because of the intentionality and follow-up that the team is doing.

A physiotherapist whose car was destroyed during the Beirut explosion got connected with our partners and asked for help to fix his car. After it was fixed, he said ‘I really want to eat with you. I don’t know why.’ So, they quickly got together. He has been reading the Bible, but was missing the key – grace, not works. He was eager to meet with our Mission ONE partner and begin to understand salvation. He often says, ‘I can see peace and love and joy in you. Why are you like that?’ Our Mission ONE partner has continued to meet with him regularly, discipling him over meals together in his home.

There is indeed a difference between speaking God’s word and doing God’s work. They can both lead to the same salvation, but the latter has Divine spirit baked into it. And in Lebanon, the work that our partners are showing up for each and every day is reflecting itself in the hearts of all those they assist.

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