Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Exodus, Judges, or Nehemiah: Lebanon’s Evangelicals Assess Surprising Election Victory

Image: Marwan Tahtah / Getty Images

On the eve of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections last weekend, Resurrection Church of Beirut (RCB) called for a prayer meeting. The short meditation focused on Psalm 147: heal the brokenhearted and sustain the humble—but cast the wicked to the ground.

Mired in economic crisis, many Lebanese blame a corrupt political class.

Three years ago, a massive popular uprising shouted “all of them means all of them” against the traditional sectarian parties. But within a few months, protests fizzled as COVID-19, the Beirut port explosion, and a World Bank-labeled “deliberate” financial depression drove many to despair.

For many, emigration seemed the only answer.

Hikmat Kashouh called out to God.

“Confuse many in the election booths, and encourage others,” prayed the RCB pastor. “Cause them to vote for those you desire.”

One of Lebanon’s largest evangelical churches, only 35 members from the main Baabda campus prayed along with him. The turnout mirrored that of the nation, which initially reported that participation dropped to 4 in 10 eligible voters. Very few expected significant movement in the political map.

“For three years we have cried out to God, reflecting his love as we ministered to everyone regardless of religion,” said Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, also known as the Baptist Society. “And then at the fourth watch of the night, when everyone was losing hope, God said, ‘I am still here.’” Most evangelicals, he said, supported…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on May 19, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.

Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Should Lebanon’s Christians Join Protests? Viral Sermons Argue Yes and No.

This article was first published at Christianity Today on November 27.

Lebanon Protests
Anti-government protesters chant slogans against the Lebanese government as they hold Lebanese flags during a protest in Beirut, on October 26. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Does a revolution need a leader?

As the rocks rained down near the tent of Ras Beirut Baptist Church’s effort to discuss the question, suddenly the faith of the Christians gathered there was put to the test.

For the past month, Lebanese evangelicals have debated Scripture, sharing sermons online. One viral effort urges believers to stay away from widespread demonstrations in submission to authority. Another licenses participation in the popular push for justice.

Trying to find a third way, RBBC has visited the protest site weekly at Beirut’s Martyrs Square to discuss issues related to the revolutionary movement.

“We are not supporting a political agenda, but listening to people about why they are coming down to the streets,” Joe Costa, RBBC youth leader, told CT. “You cannot evangelize people if they are hungry or hurt. You have to be with them where they are.”

And this time, the church’s tent was at the front line as dozens of Hezbollah flag-waving partisans approached on their motorcycles.

Since October 17, citizens of Lebanon and its multi-confessional democracy have shed their religious identities in largely peaceful demonstrations against their political leaders. Some politicians have responded by justifying the violence of their followers, without authorizing it. Other politicians have expressed sympathy, asking for trust to make things better.

But long seen as the untouchable defenders of their communities’ interests, over the decades many political leaders have become wealthy.

“Corruption is like decay in our bones,” Hikmat Kashouh, pastor of Resurrection Church of Beirut (RCB), told CT. “No single person doubts it, including those in authority today.”

The current protest movement is leaderless and has no formal demands, but in general seeks…

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