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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Christian Century Middle East Published Articles

16 Beirut Ministries Respond to Lebanon Explosion

(Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

One hour later at work, and Sarah Chetti might have been one of thousands in a Beirut hospital.

Director of the INSAAF migrant worker ministry in Lebanon, Chetti’s colleagues described shards of broken glass flying through the air, and the metal frames of doors ripped from their hinges.

It was a similar experience for the one staff member inside the Youth for Christ youth center not far from the blast. To avoid the “colossal damage,” he ducked to the floor. Re-welding was necessary just to lock up the next day.

Peter Ford was fortunate. Working quietly in his faculty office at the Near East School of Theology near downtown Beirut, the first small reverberations stirred his curiosity to investigate the problem.

Moments later, the huge blast blew in his window and spewed the glass across his desk.

Miraculously, the dozen evangelical churches and ministries in Lebanon contacted by CT reported no deaths and few serious injuries caused by the massive explosion. The official national tally is now over 100 dead, with over 5,000 injured.

If they had, there would be nowhere for the bodies to go.

Habib Badr of the historic National Evangelical Church was forced to conduct the burial of two elderly members (whose deaths were unrelated to the explosion) as Beirut’s hospitals and morgues were all full.

Two Filipinos, however, were killed in the blast. And amid the ongoing economic suffering of Lebanon, several migrant domestic workers have been abandoned by families no longer able to pay for their services.

“They are distraught, worried, and scared,” said Chetti. “Problems are piling up one after the other. I’m reaching out to each one individually and praying for them, assuring them things will be okay.”

But migrants are not the only foreigners who are suffering.

“Many of our youth are Syrian refugees, so this is churning up all that stuff for them,” said Scot Keranen, director of operations for Youth for Christ. “We’re just checking in on them, and that is really tough right now.” Lebanese trauma goes further back in history. But this explosion was…

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

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Jocelyne Khoueiry

God,

May she rest in peace.

May her nation simply rest.

Compelled by civil war, the young woman took up arms to defend her people.

She later laid them down, as religion moved from identity to faith.

God, does Lebanon need the same?

Can faith demand arms? Is identity for sect or nation?

Which do you desire first?

The Maronite patriarch continued his call for neutrality. The Shiite mufti called it impossible.

Their evidence is the same: Lebanon is surrounded by regional trouble.

Trouble that again spilled over the border.

Claiming infiltration by a Shiite militia, Israel exchanged fire and launched cross-border shells.

The militia denied anything happened at all.

But it will. Their dead fighter in Syria demands retribution.

And if it comes, Israel pledges destruction of infrastructure. The price will be high.

Who benefits? Who wins? Does faith demand arms? Does fidelity to nation?

Does neutrality?

God, guide Lebanon in the necessary discussion.

Calm the region, with justice and peace.

Restore the economy, for fuel and food.

Reform the government, in all transparency.

Convict the heart, to make amends.

The courage of Khoueiry transformed to conviction. Her earlier certainty shifted to service.

Even as killing continued.

Honor her, God, both former and latter. Honor her enemies, who risked life for their cause.

And today honor all, as they repeat the cycle.

Until one day all swords become plowshares. And all men in fullness give honor to you.

May she rest in peace. May she inspire the same.

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: Rising Tensions

God,

Lebanon feels on the precipice. Perhaps it has already fallen.

Is there a cushion? What impact awaits?

And who will be there to pick up the pieces?

The Maronite patriarch continued his call for neutrality. The president shelved it for other priorities, while a Shiite sheikh said resistance is necessary.

The French welcomed his efforts, urging reform. They then promised aid to the French language schools.

An Israeli strike in Syria killed a Lebanese member of a Shiite militia. They then beefed up the border, following vows to retaliate.

An American fighter in Syria buzzed a civilian flight in route from Iran. Frightened passengers reported injuries from the sudden turbulence.

The government agreed on a central bank audit. An IMF source said officials are stalling, while a judge put a freeze on the governor’s wealth—in advance.

Coronavirus cases continued their steady tick upward. So did unemployment, and the rate of inflation.

God, what happens next? What should?

If a call to neutrality serves to divide, is it of you? Many meddle in Lebanon; do you also have favorites?

And inside of Lebanon, is there solution? If money dries up, what about medicine?

Some citizens weep. Others go dance.

You ask your people to be with them both.

God, bless this nation.

Give it wisdom to distance from regional tensions. Give it strength to support every cause that is just.

Give it discernment, to judge well its friends.

God, bless these people.

Give them commitment to weed out corruption. Give them repentance for personal share.

Give them your healing, in body and soul.

If tensions are rising, God, perhaps you are moving. Perhaps you’ll divide the wheat and the tares.

Be merciful. Be just. Be gentle.

Lift the nation. Unite it together.

Guide it to righteousness. Guide it to 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.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Patriarch’s Plea

God,

Lebanon is a small state. Yet it is full of many peoples.

Sects—to be fair. They are one people. Or are they?

Since its inception Lebanon has struggled to craft an identity.

Is it European? Is it Arab? Is it Syrian? Is it Phoenician?  

Is it free?

So to be free they struck a pact. West and East, a bridge between.

And many then trampled upon it.

God in these times of trouble, strengthen Lebanon’s foundations.

The leader of one sect put forward his vision. The Maronite patriarch called for neutrality.

And again. And again. Forcefully.

And then he labeled a culprit. A Shiite party holds hegemony, pulling the nation East.

Is he right?

Should he speak?

The Shiite cleric says they defend the nation from the South. They have no objection to help from the West.

Others in Lebanon say sects are the problem. Let men of religion stick to their faith.

Two politicians of a Christian sect formed a national salvation front, calling for more protests.

And from the original protest movement, several formed a national civil front, urging the same.

Many answered. Far fewer than before.

God, bless the patriarch. He calls to what he believes is Lebanon’s founding.

Its original pact.

As a cleric, honor him in defense of his sect. And direct him as he seeks to transcend it.

Bless the Shiite party. They call to what they believe is Lebanon’s interest.

Its essential resistance.

As a cleric, honor him in defense of his sect. And direct him as he seeks to transcend it.

And for those who find ill in the sects to begin with, or those who condemn the political class, or any in public who work for their nation—bless them also.

Where their cause is just—rally them in peace and unity.

Where they find a better way—commit them to paths of inclusive reform.

God, many in Lebanon have a plea. Most call out for the common good. Some—with daily increase—are in dire need of individual rescue.

Give Lebanon consensus. Give Lebanon sovereignty.

Span the gulf between the peoples with the bridge of your favor. Make them one, as you are one.

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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Current Events

Lebanon Prayer: Agricultural Jihad

God,

In times of crisis, luxury gives way to need. Give the Lebanese their daily bread.

But how?

The nation has long eaten its imports – up to 85 percent of all consumption. Even considered staples come from abroad.

May Lebanon thank you for years of plenty.

And now?

May Lebanon seek you in times of want.

Amid the political wrangling, a Shiite party proposed an agricultural jihad. In bitter rebuke of former financial policy, they urged an economic shift.

To the East, but also to the Earth.

But others refuse a turn in geography, asking instead for return of deposits. The life savings of many is frozen in banks.

And others remind that in mountainous Lebanon, only 12 percent of land is arable. Can rooftops and balconies be a true option?

Meanwhile, those who toil in the plains warn of a farming revolt. In this time of harvest, will they sell precious wheat to the state? God, there is so much distrust.

Replace it with equity.

It is good to grow food. You formed man in a garden.

Yet from our sin there is sweat. With our labor there are thorns.

In our gluttony dwells injustice.

God, there is honor in finance—wisdom in the creation of wealth. You have made us stewards of creation, necessitating many roles. Let each Lebanese serve you and his nation, with the gifts you have given.

But in this time of crisis, give grace to the grower. May he who scatters seed find good ground.

And for those in other sectors, give consensus. Guide Lebanon’s leaders to best policy.

If you feed the birds of the air, feed also the people.

And with daily bread, prompt daily gratitude. Call forth daily repentance. Inspire daily forgiveness.

Deliver Lebanon from evil.

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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Current Events

Lebanon Prayer: Where to Turn?

God,

Lebanon has many ills; where should its help come from?

International lenders hold promise of debt relief, if only Lebanon will help itself—and reform.

Western nations hold promise of investment, if only Lebanon will help itself—and reform.

A Sunni political power hints Lebanon could help itself—if he returns.

A Shiite political power hints Lebanon could help itself—if it turns East.

The US ambassador says Lebanon is all but unable to help itself—obstructed by a terrorist group.

The power she accuses of terrorism agrees—but obstructed by America.

An Arab nation offers to help with fuel—no agreement has yet been signed.

A Persian nation offers to help with fuel—no agreement has yet been signed.

God, there is little agreement on anything.

It is not wrong. Different citizens hold different visions. But in crisis, it is not helpful.

It is not best.

Where each vision is winsome, God, let consensus come between them.

Facilitate repayment of debt. Hold the currency steady. Let the economy thrive.

Reform what is necessary. Promote the right leadership.

Give Lebanon many friends. Free it from its many chains.

Unify the people on what this all entails. Let every solution come from within.

Lebanon has many hills—places of refuge, places of prayer. God, let the nation look to 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.

Categories
Current Events

The Middle East Needs America to Reconcile

Lebanese Voices:

This post was submitted by Rev. Joseph Kassab, president of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon

Current demonstrations in the United States have exposed a rift in society, very similar to the gaps found in the Middle East. In both regions, governments have failed to guide their pluralistic societies toward harmony, peace, and reconciliation.

In the United States, these rifts take on the forms of black and white, rich and poor, and between non-integrated ethnicities. Economic prosperity and the high standard of living has papered over them for a long time, but only postponed the explosion.

As for the Middle East, underdevelopment and a deteriorating economy intensifies the contradictions, making them more violent. Our weak governments do not have the capacity as modern states to regulate conflict. In addition to rich and poor, our rifts occur as Shiite and Sunni, Christian and Muslim, along with various ethnicities that feel robbed of their homelands, with less sense of belonging to their country of residence.

At the grassroots level, the situations are substantially similar. But surprisingly, the similarity is beginning to extend to the level of leadership.

Three weeks ago, President Trump visited a church and lifted the Bible in an iconic photo op. Whether it was to appease his evangelical supporters or contain ongoing demonstrations and violence, he also hinted at involving the army in the restoration of calm.

Middle Eastern leaders often act similarly in their times of crisis.

When Saddam Hussein’s regime was threatened, he added the Islamic phrase “God is Great” to the national flag. He employed the army and chemical weapons against the Kurds, when they attempted to revolt against him. Religion and violence are the magic used to contain the anger.

Since government is responsible to guard national security, I believe it has the right to use the army if vitally necessary. But conversely, the United States should have the integrity to understand and permit this right when protests erupt and threaten the stability of other nations.

But it cannot be acceptable in any pluralistic country, and especially for the United States, to use religion as a weapon to solve its problems. It is the tool of ISIS, in their pursuit of “Islamic peace.”

The world recognizes America as a superpower, looking for it to lead the world by example. Many Americans are angry, whether demonstrating in the streets, or frustrated in their homes. Lifting the Bible is not the solution—living the Bible is.

These protests have much to teach us in the Middle East, where many governments rule by majority mindset. It can be difficult for God’s vision of justice and equality to result in full benefits of citizenship for underprivileged minorities. 

But when we witness massive crowds of white citizens protesting for the rights of blacks, it inspires us to believe that the American dream is still alive. The whole world is watching, some wishing the nation to fail. Others, like us, will find hope the US transcends its differences, and reconciles.

For our sake, then, America must be as great a democracy in times of trouble, as it is in times of peace. The Middle East also needs to breathe.

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Current Events

Trapped in Lebanon, Sudanese Students Find Refuge at Seminary

Image courtesy ABTS

While Liberty University came under criticism for allowing students the option to stay on campus during the coronavirus outbreak, many other schools were also faced with a dilemma concerning the 1.1 million students who came from abroad.

According to a Quartz survey of 36 universities who host a third of the United States’ international students, 26 told those students to leave campus.

Penn State gave three days notice. Harvard gave five. Duke, among others, offered emergency financial aid to help international students return home. Princeton allowed their residency to continue—until the end of the semester.

But Sudanese students at Lebanon’s Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) did not have a choice—even with tickets in hand.

Lebanon was one of the first nations to implement COVID-19 restrictions. Its first case was recorded on February 21, and by March 9 schools were shut down.

Four days later, at a regularly scheduled seminary picnic, Bassem Melki prepared to break the news.

“It was a joyous atmosphere,” said the ABTS dean of students, “but I had sadness in my heart because I knew what I had to say.”

Founded in 1960 and located in the mountains overlooking Beirut, the seminary…

This article was first published at Christianity Today, on June 10, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.