Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Merchants and Criminals

God,

“Can a merchant truly be free?”

The Maronite patriarch issued the question. From antiquity-present the nation is known.

But a middleman serves both sides of transaction. His value comes chiefly in those who he knows.

And Lebanese politics has many clients. A balancing act between powers too large.

Somehow the shuffling killed off the audit. The Central Bank finances will not be known.

The frustration is uttered far beyond the cleric. A judge censures the council that does not its job.

Tasked with the probe into state corruption, they sit on the files of which she demands.

And as yet more explosives get tallied in storage, dueling state agencies study the blast.

Over 300 pages detail the failures, with the presiding judge livid it also lays blame.

 To date no official has been held accountable. The senior among them still haggle their posts.

The government languishes formless and void. The patriarch ponders: Is Lebanon lost?

God, you once shaped our world from chaos.

Your spirit hovered over the deep.

The mountains of Lebanon proclaim your glory.

The roots of the cedars recall merchants of old.

Days when their genius created an empire.

Built on foundations of sharing the good.

Can it return, God?

Can you make the government work?

Bless those afflicted with holy frustration.

Rebuke the many who cause it to be.

Burden their conscience and gird up their courage.

Awaken conviction to do what is right.

Let them count the pennies. Let them clean the port. Let them pronounce justice. Let them build a state.

Instead we see chaos breaking out further. Dozens of prisoners are out on the loose.

Five are dead – crashing the taxi they stole in escape.

Fifteen are caught – proving that many still honor their oath.

And four turned themselves in – repenting of how they just went with the flow.

What are Lebanon’s numbers, God?

Audit them in your wisdom.

Forget not your mercy.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Geography

God,

Lebanon has entered a ‘war of the maps.’

Let not the battles be fought within.

A strained round of talks continued with Israel. Each side drew their lines out into the sea.

The disputed middle is ever increasing. But both need agreement to extract from the deep.

God, give them good will.

Let law be clear and justice blind.

But regional politics also.

Syria hosted a conference on refugees. Lebanon said it is time they return.

The Western alignment gave it no credence. Must the leadership change before they go home?

God, give them welcome.

Let the stranger be honored, but not overstay.

Good fences—and borders—help make good neighbors. Let the two peoples be so once again.

And in Lebanon, let them remain.

An unclear assault struck an imam in Jbeil. Muslims protested in Tripoli north.

Leaders demanded a joint Christian statement. One called out France and religious insult.

God, give them clarity.

Let peace prevail. Let facts be known.

Let the spirit of unity drive out division. Thwart all who manipulate means to their ends.

For they are not two peoples, God. They are citizens.

And of Syria, they are brothers.

Even of Israel, they are made in your image.

You divided the nations to frustrate our arrogance. Instead we direct it to rivals outside.

And sometimes, within.

A map is a tool. A border is good. We are not the other.

It is not identity. It is not enmity. And the other is not independent of us.

But war is of the devil.

Lebanon has known this demon for too long, accommodating its spirit.

Drive it away definitively, God. In your holy name.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Crucible

God,

“In the Levant, we must carry our cross every day to remain.”

So spoke the head of Lebanon’s largest Christian party, hit by US sanctions.

Accused of corruption, many suspected are facing no penalty. Will they now fear?

Unstated, it may be because of his Shiite alliance.

Cabinet formation has lingered for months, perhaps awaiting the US elections.

God, is the crucible over?

It is not for many.

A Syrian refugee self-immolated, unable to afford medicine for his daughter.

Extreme poverty has tripled in one year.

And the accounts of the nation are still without audit.

Authorized by the state, the central bank did not yield.

Secrecy laws prevent sharing of files.

Three months have been given, to honor the contract.

Longer than subsidies are scheduled to last.

God, the crucible fires may only be stoking.

Lebanon may have more trials to pass.

Let the nation remain.

Clean up corruption, wherever it lies.

Provide for the poor, wherever they are.

Would doing the first, enable the second?

Would foreign aid come, if reform would prove true?

Let it not be needed, God.

Stand Lebanon strong, as a mountainous cedar.

Free from dependence on nations abroad.

Immune to their threats, unmoved by their favors.

Submitting herself to your cross alone.

A path of sacrifice. Service. Humility.

Repentance.

Give Lebanon leaders of upright conviction.

Forsaking their share in the national sin.

And after the crucible comes resurrection.

Only the penitent live to see you.

On their behalf, God, send your salvation.

Let Lebanon rise once again in Levant.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Expression

God,

You created this world through the power of your voice.

You revealed your will through the light of your word.

You made us, God, to do no less.

Teach us to articulate well.

With our tongue we bless and curse.

From our heart, our mouth speaks.

We will give account for every word.

Some used these words against the French. Muslims rebuke the insult given their prophet.

Some used these words against the Turks. Armenians condemn the war waged on their people.

Some used these words against the Israelis. Lebanese question the lines drawn into the sea.

And perhaps they are right to do so.

Perhaps they please you in their stance.

Their voice is strong. Their will revealed.

But is there power? Is there light?

A word alone is only vapor.

And so some kill. And so some weep. And so some shrug.

What can be done against the mighty?

God, make us mightier still?

Maybe.

Your power is perfected in weakness.

But it is power still.

Power to hold the tongue. Let freedom rule, but honor reign.

Power to bless the enemy. Establish justice. Prevail with peace.

Power to negotiate well. An equitable share, of your free bounty.

God, let our words create.

An apple of gold in a setting of silver.

And let them speak of you. The very words of God.

Let Lebanon be known through them, an expression of your love.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Hands

God,

France watched it all with disappointment.

Several weeks since their promise to push forward reforms, politicians still squabble.

But the offer is pending. Aid can still come, though Macron washed his hands of responsibility.

And now, Lebanon has a prime minister again.

The leading Sunni figure will return to his post, if he can form an acceptable cabinet.

But his mandate is fragile. Christians abstained, as a narrow majority raised their hands to endorse him.

And also, his partisans took to the street in support.

They were met by revolutionary demonstrators, clashing in the central square.

But the fist is standing. Burned in the melee, protesters raised their clenched hands to condemn him.

And still, global developments continue to swirl.

The head of security went to America, to assist in extracting the detained in Syria.

But his role is intriguing. Positioned among enemies, he offers a hand to assist them.

Let all work together, God.

The eye cannot say to the hand: I don’t need you.

Aid would be helpful. But equip Lebanon to find its own way forward.

Unity would be helpful. But inspire politicians to reform though divided.

Pressure would be helpful. But comfort protesters to hold onto their hope.

Peace would be helpful. But enable negotiators to win-win for all.

Soon, God, let it come.

Aid for the needy. Unity for the people. Peace for the nation.

And pressure from public to always do right.

Bless the prime minister. Help him and his rivals to lead Lebanon well.

God, the nation needs your righteous right hand.

You hold the whole world.

Hold Lebanon close.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Flicker

God,

As demonstrators gathered to mark the one-year anniversary of their uprising, they brought candles.

There were chants. There were flags.

But this time, no dancing. No celebration.

Instead they marched to the port. To commemorate not a movement, but a tragedy.

Honor this, God.

Much has been lost in this year of protest. The value of currency. The savings of families. The lives of dozens; the homes of tens of thousands.

And for many, the legitimacy of the political class.

Society cannot function without politics, God. Governance is of your good purpose.

Aid their renewal, their reform, or their replacement – as your good will determines.

A top Sunni leader offered his efforts. Rejected one year ago, he will try again.

But the top Christian parties refused him. They side with the French who demand specialist government.

Some say they side for a particular ministry. Same as the Shiites a candidate before.

Addressing the anniversary, the president says change must be constitutional. Within institutions reform must take place.

But can it? What is the message of this year?

Submit and stay silent? Let us represent you.

All are corrupted? Let us tear it all down.

The nation is powerless? Let us wait for America.

The nation is hopeless? Let us travel abroad.

God, governance is of your good purpose. Bless all those inspired to take up the cause.

Their numbers exploded back last October. Their stamina dwindled the year that has passed.

Hope flickers.

Let these remain with it: Faith. Love.

Like the companions of Moses, they hold up the arms of hope. In prayer. In lament. In expectation.

Faith, that the nation can still come together. Love, for the effort that might make it so.

These three are needed, God.

Your light is needed.

Lebanon is needed.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: On Hold

God,

Help Lebanon in the waiting. May it be a time of rest.

For many it is forced. The government put over 100 towns and villages in lockdown. One week entire, with nowhere to go.

And likely much more, without a government. Politicians spread blame when the French effort failed. It might get revived, but no signs are pending.

Some say Lebanon is on pause until American elections. Some say the country has no time to lose.

The Central Bank said that the worst is behind it. But the dollar exchange has renewed its fall.

Life continues, God. So does the suffering of many.

But could hope be pending? Might there be a line, finally drawn in the sand?

The maritime border is up for discussion. Lebanon and Israel will meet to divide.

A framework agreement is already decided. Each one their right to the natural gas.

Is there enough to revive the economy? Will it take too much time to prevent the collapse?

And will it be fair?

God, in this time of waiting, lead Lebanon to pray.

For transparent arrangements. For equitable share.

For warming relations. For a peace that is just.

And let this peace come also between the parties. Let them fight for their cause in support of the whole.

For national consensus. For strong institutions.

For a soon government. For thorough reform.

And to the degree necessary, American clarity. Set Lebanon’s path upon sovereign decision. Yet so much of the world awaits what will be.

It is not all America’s power of decision. Heal the earth of Corona, paralysis, fear.

For slowing its spread. For needed supplies.

For developed vaccines. For this plague to pass.

In all of these, God, there is little most can do but wait.

And trust.

And rest.

God, Lebanon needs it. Thank you for this pause.

If only on hold, then the pressure is building. Until resolution, the tension stays tight.

But there is life beyond lockdown. Play beyond politics. Love beyond lucre.

There is family. There is nature. There is you.

Things far more essential. Things far more secure.

Strengthen the nation to resume its struggle. Let no one grow weary in doing the right.

But now, give a sabbath.

Hold Lebanon close.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Hell

God,

Lebanon is not yet in the place of damnation. But the president fears it is not that far off.

Asked where the country is headed if no government forms: To Hell, he replied, as if it was clear.

And as if to prefigure—munitions exploded, of a Shiite militia which stored in the south.

For too many, hell is already here.

Food prices are rising 300 percent. Life savings evaporate. Fuel oil is rationed. Even an egg needs black market supply.

And then the prime minister-designate quit.

He insisted on experts to lead a small cabinet, with ministries rotating among all the sects.

But Shiites insisted on the file for finance. As long as some posts stay sect-based they must name their choice.

Government formation is back to square one.

Abandon all hope, as in Dante’s Inferno?

 The gnashing of teeth, as the gospels describe?

God, there is no hell where you are present.

Abandon not Lebanon, nor the people therein.

But will France?

Its initiative lies in tatters, though a Shiite leader still supports its content.

Will it sanction as threatened? Will it keep on hold contingent aid?

France warned that the nation risks disappearing. Will Lebanese citizens hasten this end?

Emigration. Obstinance. Rivalry. Greed.

Responsibility?

The world has its share, both East and West. Some see only a pawn in their regional game.

But God, strengthen your leaders to shoulder this burden.

Give vision to see the small glimmer of light.

And humility, to call for dependence on you.

Designate a prime minister to roll once more the boulder. A Sisyphus able to surmount the peak.

But with Lebanon snared in this form of perdition, hold fast the rock upon which they can build.

A city on a hill. A message to the nations.

A free land of liberty, welcome to all.

Let no one pretend, God. So few are hopeful. Hell is other people, so many despair.

You are a God of rescue, of ransom. What payment is needed?

Repentance. Confession. For each one, his own.

Grant your mercy. None deserve it.

Spare Lebanon, humbled, from righteous fire.

Bless all who serve it, wishing its peace.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Rotation

God,

Is Lebanon simply spinning its wheels? Could success come instead by rotating portfolios?

A deadline to form a new government has passed. Agreed by political parties with France, France then said there is no deadline.

Will then the pattern of negotiation return? Will it be months until government forms?

Months in extension of Lebanese suffering.

Following US announcement to sanction their allies, Shiite parties insist on keeping the Finance Ministry.

Sunni parties say all ministries should rotate. No sect should have exclusive claim.

But finance is money, and money is power. Power to place or withhold a signature.

No government policy proceeds without it.

In possession do they dominate, God? In absence are they squeezed?

What is fair? What is right? What is good?

Not the paralysis that stymies formation. Not the insistence that prevents reform.

God, weigh the intentions of all foreign nations. Bless them accordingly, to the degree that they help.

But weigh also each sect in its various politics.

Do they seek domination? Do they need to be squeezed?

From abroad, from the people, from their consciences, God, help them find consensus.

For profit, for power, for patriotism, God, lead them to what is right.

Your principles of service, of sacrifice, of sharing.

Of salvation.

God does Lebanon run, only in circles? Is it only a gear, turned by agenda?

Plant her cedars, make them strong. May the birds of the air come and nest in their branches.

And may the people rest in their shade.  

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

Categories
Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

How Lebanon’s First Female Militant Made Her Fight More Faithful

Image: Courtesy of Shiraz Awad

On July 31, Jocelyne Khoueiry passed away mercifully five days before seeing Beirut destroyed, again. A key player in the civil war that once tore the city apart, she spent the rest of her life trying to stitch it back together, and all of Lebanon with it.

The Beirut explosion on August 4 reminded many of the worst days of the 1975-1990 conflict. The Lebanese capital divided into a Christian east and a Muslim west, alternately shelled by militias and foreign armies vying for control.

But though far smaller in scale than the blast at the port, the deaths caused by Jocelyne’s 1976 hand grenade also shook the nation.

Born as one of two daughters in a Maronite Christian family of ten, Jocelyne grew up across the street from the Beirut headquarters of the Phalange.

Originally a Christian youth movement dedicated to an independent Lebanon, the Phalange took great offense at the state-within-a-state formed by the 300,000 Palestinians who were fleeing war with Israel. The 1969 Cairo agreement gave the refugees sovereignty to organize their own communities and continue the armed struggle, with the blessing—though not involvement—of their host nation.

The Khoueiry family provided some of the earliest fighters to the Phalange Christian militia formed in response, and a not yet 20-year-old Jocelyne enlisted with her brothers. In 1975, the civil war broke out in earnest, and several Lebanese Muslim militias sided with the Palestinians.

Jocelyne was not a practicing Christian; she preferred the Beirut nightlife. But on May 7, 1976, on a routine patrol on the roof of the Regent Hotel, she had a vision. She said the Virgin Mary appeared to her, and she saw herself kneeling in veneration. But she was also overcome with a sense of dread, and prayed that God would protect the six other female fighters stationed there with her.

On the way down from the roof, she saw advancing Palestinian militants.

The Regent sat on a dividing line between mixed and wholly Christian neighborhoods of Beirut, and Jocelyne’s squad was completely alone. While the Phalange militia’s men had anticipated defending a different hotel encampment, a 300-strong regiment of Palestinians attacked the female outpost instead.

The battle lasted six hours. Eventually, Jocelyne risked exposure by climbing back to the roof, and threw down a hand grenade that miraculously killed the Palestinian commander. The militia scattered, and the line was held.

Jocelyne became a legend. But in the years that followed, she contemplated…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on September 14, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: More Fires

God,

Lebanon needs a government. Lebanon needs accountability.

In their absence, fires burn.

An alleged welding accident sparked the most recent blaze, retraumatizing many. They opened their windows, fearing a blast.

And in poured the smoke.

Every solution yields a problem.

Those who can, flee to the mountains. Those more able, take refuge abroad.

And some board a dinghy, desperate for Cyprus. Asylum seems their only hope.

But the West complicates also.

The French demand a capable cabinet. Their deadline is looming.

The Americans sanction accused politicians. Their reach is growing.

Every proposal undoes another.

Politicians jockey over portfolios. Donated tea is given to guards. Protesters rally against all complicit.

An audit of central bank finance begins.

God, the nation needs your cooling water. The nation needs your fiery rebuke.

Help Lebanon listen. Help Lebanon heal.

So many issues require consensus. Bring leaders together to do what is right.

They differ substantially over the vision. Keep sectarian interest from making them blind.

And of personal interest, God, hold them accountable.

Every sin compounds, corrupting the whole.

Be righteous. Be just. May the intersection spare the people.

But no one is innocent before you, God. Let each repent of their fair share.

Be merciful.

Let it not be too late, God. A fire consumes without discrimination.

You are a consuming fire.

Refine, but do not devour.

Remember the beauty here you have created. Remember your image stitched into each soul. Remember the freedom enjoyed by so many.

Let every heart burn, but only for you.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

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Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Old Scars and New Wounds: Christians Comfort Lebanon’s Trauma

To a traumatized child, a teddy bear can make a big difference.

But as the handful of Lebanese evangelicals trained in counseling are emphasizing in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion, so can an ordinary individual.

“I don’t think the sit-with-a-psychologist model works with a communal culture,” said Kate Mayhew, country representative for the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Lebanon.

“A lay person might be fearful of doing harm. But there is a lot they can do.”

There is a lot that needs to be done.

An impact assessment conducted by Strategy& in the worst affected neighborhoods of Beirut found that 3 in 4 respondents were suffering anxiety two weeks after the blast.

Nearly 7 in 10 were experiencing disturbing dreams, and 6 in 10 reported difficulty doing household chores.

And according to UNICEF, 50 percent of its respondents said their children were showing signs of trauma and extreme stress. In the poverty-stricken Karantina district directly in front of the port, one child clutched a bag of distributed bread to his chest, rocking back and forth. Though by then…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on September 9, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Pulse

God,

Can there still be life?

One month since the explosion, a search and rescue team from Chile believes it found a pulse.

Buried deep under the rubble of a collapsed building in Beirut, the dig requires utmost speed and all precaution.

Just like the rescue of Lebanon.

One month since the cabinet resigned, a reform or sanction president from France believes he has a plan.

With a schedule full of specific details, his roadmap requires difficult consensus and political sacrifice.

And to welcome his efforts, political leadership rallied to appoint a new prime minister.

Like the one before him, he is a political novice without popular backing. He pledges swift formation of a small cabinet.

Can he rescue Lebanon?

The protest movement rejected him as the next desperate patchwork solution of a discredited political class. But as their street mobilization wanes, they celebrated a civil society victory.

The World Bank pulled back funding for a controversial dam. Dismissing their fears over environmental impact, a politician lamented that Lebanon would one day need the water.

God, is Lebanon’s pulse at the level of thirst?

As inflation and poverty continue to plague, give each man his daily bread.

Give wisdom to the new prime minister. Increase his authority, as he follows your roadmap. Help him judge how it fits with the French.

And may Chile discover someone alive. But it now appears the pulse has faded. No survivors.

Thank you for hope, God, however fleeting. You rallied so many Lebanese behind them.

They long for a miracle. Give them living water. Give them new life.

Utmost speed with all precaution, God. Difficult consensus and personal sacrifice.

Keep Lebanon alive.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Many Consultations

God,

When there are crises, it is good to confer. In the abundance of counselors is victory.

But Lebanon has so many—crises and counselors—and Job was not helped by his friends.

Promote the friends of good advice, God. Establish the leaders of decisive discernment.

Men who understand the times, and know what Lebanon should do.

There are consultations on the border. The UN peacekeeping force will stay, with mandate to inquire of tunnels. But can they monitor infiltrations? Can they curb airspace surveillance?

Can they stop the conflict?

There are consultations on the outskirts. An Arab tribe versus Shiite elements. Can they quiet the friction of religious identity? Can they satisfy families for the blood that was spilt?

Can they forge a peace?

There are consultations on the cabinet. The French president comes with a possible roadmap. Can they distribute positions to honor their sects? Can they agree on reforms to unlock the aid?

Can they form a government?

God, when the world is swirling there is need for conviction. Not certainty. Not even consensus.

Lebanon needs men of courage. Of decency. Of character. Of insight.

Find a solution to the threats in the south.

Make humble relations between every faith.

Empower a cabinet to serve Lebanon’s interest.

Lighten the burden on the national soul.

God, in your mercy, hear the cries of the Lebanese people. In your sovereignty, call forth more.

Wisdom is proved right by all of her children.

In consultation, be fruitful and multiply.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Special Tribunal

God,

Fifteen years, waiting for justice.

A verdict: One guilty, three acquitted. No conclusion on the powers behind them.

Who assassinated the former prime minister? He did. But who else? Investigations proved a wide conspiracy.

And he is not talking. He is not even here. A Shiite party shields him from trial.

A Shiite party called it politicized, and would ignore the outcome.

A Shiite party—with Syria—were the powers of ‘no conclusion’.

So is it concluded? A Sunni party of the murdered prime minister vowed not to rest until the guilty are punished. Finally, there is a guilty.

They called on the Shiite party to make unspecified ‘sacrifices’.

Many in Lebanon have moved on, God. There have been numerous tragedies since then.

But what hope does the verdict in the last big explosion, give to this one?

Many are resigned. Many are leaving. Many say, ‘This is Lebanon’.

But is this time different? America says no aid until reform. Is it right to starve into solution?

Or is this time the same? Certain parties scuffled in political disputes. Is it right to scare into submission?

Fifteen years is a long time.

Thirty years since the civil war.

One hundred since existence.

What do you wish to summon from the Lebanese? Hope is hard to conjure.

Resolve? Fight? Wrath?

Is lament too passive? Is contrition too hard?

God, can you invite blessing? So many cannot even contemplate.

But so many are not needed. Let two or three agree.

Then loosen.

Shake free their chains, for three or four.

Let four or five plead on behalf of the nation.

Then five or six can pour out grace on them all.

Maybe six or seven can be healed.

Perhaps seven or eight can heal someone else.

Eight or nine could confront injustice.

Nine or ten could sweep the streets.

Ten or eleven might make a difference.

Eleven—or twelve—can change the world.

Even if one betrays. Even if one denies.

There are those who betray Lebanon, God. They choose their selfish interests. Restore them in repentance.

There are those who deny Lebanon, God. They trust only their own sect. Remove their fear, and reconcile.

Their numbers are many.

Let the few, bless.

And then multiply blessing, to draw many more.

God, twelve can be a tribunal. Lebanon is in the dock.

It is guilty, of course. All are, every nation. Evidence is overwhelming.

But your trial is not political. It is merciful.

Let these twelve proclaim your forgiveness.

Then God, loose in heaven.

Lebanon is a paradise of your creation. Let the people live it so.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

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Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

A Beacon of Hope in a Broken Beirut

Image: P. Clarkson

Sitting at his desk in the second-floor office adjacent to the historic National Evangelical Church of Beirut, Habib Badr calmly filled out the wedding registry. It was a ritual the almost 70-year-old had performed countless times over the course of his 35-year ministry.

The next day, there would be a funeral. A stalwart member of his congregation, the former head of reconstructive surgery at the American University of Beirut hospital during the years of civil war, had passed away of natural causes.

It seemed there were more funerals than weddings these days, Badr thought. But the nostalgic church would always draw young people ready to exchange their vows, even from the scattered Lebanese diaspora, in imitation of their parents a generation before.

There was something special about the lighting. On a clear day, parishioners could see the distant snow-covered peak of Mt. Sannine, towering over the capital below. Three years ago, the church replaced its eight ordinary windows. Bracketing the sanctuary pews with translucent glass depicting the three crosses of Calvary above colored stones, they aimed to remind worshipers of the ever-present Rock of Ages, upon whom the church is built.

Lebanese evangelicals don’t prefer stained glass windows with human imagery, Badr said. This serves to distinguish them from original Catholic and Orthodox heritages.

“To the missionaries, we say, ‘Go home,’” a Lebanese Greek Orthodox bishop had publicly proclaimed a generation earlier. “And to the Protestants we say, ‘Come back home.’”

But for Badr and his congregants, they were already home. The National Evangelical Church, the oldest Arabic-speaking Protestant congregation in the Middle East, was formed in 1848. Badr’s grandfather Yusuf was the first native pastor, installed in 1890.

And as if to emphasize, the circular window high above the pulpit—installed in 1998—pictured a cross above Mt. Sannine, with an image of the church in the foothills below. Originally constructed in 1869, the architecture was a blend of Scottish and Lebanese styles.

Every Sunday, the symbolism would resonate: A Reformed church, nestled like any other Lebanese home into the rugged mountainous terrain.

Badr’s wedding thoughts were abruptly shaken by a small tremor. Small earthquakes periodically rattle the small Mediterranean nation two-thirds the size of Connecticut, so the pastor stood and prepared to momentarily take refuge underneath his office doorframe. It was not a moment too soon…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on August 20, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: State of Emergency

God,

The nations encircle. The government falls. The army entrenches. The investigation begins.

Beirut still smolders.

There is great need for leaders, and Lebanon has many. Bless and guide them all.

The Christian president will not cede sovereignty, to allow outsiders assigning blame for the blast.

The Shiite speaker of parliament increases military jurisdiction, to quiet the streets.

The Sunni prime minister resigns his post, to protest corruption preventing reform.

But each sect has alternatives.

A Christian in opposition calls for early elections.

A Shiite in support accuses some of stoking civil war.

A Sunni in waiting backs an international probe.

There is another probe pending. A UN tribunal will soon give verdict on who killed his father.

While fallout continues over international peace. Two regional powers normalize ties.

God, the lines are sharpening. Too many crisscross the cedars.

Let truth be made known, whoever pronounces it.

Let order prevail, in each disciplined heart.

Let protest find outlet, till transparency comes.

God, shield the nation from foreign agendas. Welcome the aid, with all expertise.

But let every decision come from consensus. Let every decision conform with your will.

Hold accountable the guilty. Marginalize the manipulative. Redeem all repentant long given to cheat.

Lift up the nation through prayer and humility. Bring forth her leaders to do what is right.

At every level of leadership, God, give clarity. Give courage. Give conviction.

Give compassion.

Lebanon is truly a state of emergency.

Be its healer. Be its rescue.

Be its God.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Three Explosions

God,

The city is reeling. And with it the system?

Whether from negligence or sabotage, hundreds of thousands are hurting.

You are a God of truth. If the reasons behind the massive explosion are not yet known, reveal them.

You are a God of justice. If the people behind the terrible suffering are not yet identified, expose them.

But you have not been idle.

You are a God of compassion. Beirut is healing through an explosion of kindness.

You are a God of righteousness. Beirut is heaving in an explosion of anger.

To what end?

For neither has evil been idle.

Dozens are dead. Thousands are injured.

A spirit of paralysis grips too many. A spirit of division seeds mistrust. A spirit of destruction animates several. A spirit of accusation seeks protection from fault.

Manipulation. Self-interest. Revenge. Hatred. Greed. Fear. Sin.

Me.

Everyone is guilty, God. All can be redeemed.

Some are more guilty than others. Bring forth the men who will lead with repentance. Promote women of principle who honor their charge.

But beyond individuals, there is something that binds them.

Is it the system? Must Lebanon sideline its sects, or are they its strength?

You are a God of order. Keep the nation from chaos and guide to consensus.

You are a God of freedom. Inspire authority to let loose inspiration; create an environment that honors its gifts.

Let there be a fourth explosion, God.

An explosion of blessing—of hope and of life.

And then, let it settle in quiet humility.

Bandage Lebanon’s wounds.

Build up its strength.

Sweep up its glass.

Imagine the message if all come together.

Amen.


Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.

Categories
Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

How I Explained Beirut’s Explosion to My Kids

Credit: Julie Casper

Our family was sitting down to dinner when the walls rumbled.

Assuming it was just an unusual surge of electricity preceding one of Lebanon’s frequent power outages, we readied to say our prayers.

And then came the boom, and the whole house shook.

“An earthquake?” I wondered, as we rushed our four children, ages 7 to 13, outside to presumed safety. But there we found neighbors, anxiously skimming through Twitter on their balconies, shouting out the news.

Beirut had just suffered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history.

My nerves for my family’s security settled when I learned it was not an earthquake. But then the political nerves took over.

Was it an assassination? An Israeli strike?

Reporting for Christianity Today from Cairo during the Arab Spring, our family had become somewhat accustomed to instability. But that was my realm: attending demonstrations, visiting attacked churches. Yet there was always a sense that life carried on, like the ever-calm waters flowing in the nearby Nile River, where we would often board a felucca boat and float in peace.

Our year in Lebanon has been much different. Within two weeks of our arrival…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on August 7, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.

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Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Lebanon Was Already in Turmoil. Then Came the Blast.

Joseph Kassab

The massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Monday evening has left dozens dead, hundreds injured, and more than 300,000 displaced from their homes.

Millions around the world watched in horror as the detonation of 2,750 tons of confiscated ammonium nitrate laid waste to the Mediterranean port and surrounding neighborhoods. The equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake was felt deep into the coastal mountains of Lebanon and as far away as Cyprus.

The images of destruction reminded many of the small Middle Eastern nation’s 15-year civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990.

Christianity Today spoke with Joseph Kassab, president of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon. Based in Beirut but born in Aleppo, Syria, Kassab reflected on the damage suffered in Christian neighborhoods, early efforts to assist the suffering, and hope for what this tragedy might produce in the Lebanese church.

These are very difficult days in Lebanon. What happened, and how bad is it?

It is very bad. I’ve been in Lebanon since 1984, experiencing the civil war. This is the first time that one single explosion caused such damage. People were terrified.

Until now, there is no agreement on the explanation, with many speaking according to their political point of view. Some say it was an electrical problem. Some say it was arson. Others assure that they heard jet fighters. We have to wait, hoping that the coming days will provide an answer.

This explosion destroyed so much of Beirut, across sectarian lines. What is the impact on the Christian community? The areas nearest the port in East Beirut are primarily Christian neighborhoods, and generally…

This article was originally published by Christianity Today, on August 5, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.