This month marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic Beirut Port Explosion that took place on August 4, 2020. This date has been an important marker for many Lebanese. The past 12-18 months have been some of the most difficult Lebanon has experienced since the civil war. For many, the anniversary of the explosion is a hard reminder of not only the tragic events of that day but the lack of progress the country has made since that day. The families of the 200 victims of the explosion still have no answers, and no one has been held responsible for the blast. A tough pill to swallow alongside a rapidly failing economy and multiple failed efforts to form a capable government to help pull the country out of the depths of despair. Overall, the Lebanese are tired, weary, and hopeless. Most youth see one option if they are going to have any hope of successful future, get out of Lebanon. The future is bleak and most generous estimates lay out a very long road to recovery.
The corruption and economic decline had been brewing for years, however in the Fall of 2019, the frustration and anger of the people finally erupted into a revolution. The Lebanese took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction. Amid this turmoil the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic began, and the local currency started to decline. Over the course of 2.5 years 4 different prime ministers tried and subsequently failed to form a government and the local currency went from declining to an all-out freefall, losing over 90% of its value. In the middle of all of this sits August 4, 2020. The third largest explosion this world has ever seen and a microcosm of the failures of the Lebanese government. Pain, despair, and hopelessness have ruled the day in the year that followed.
In the midst of these crises the church, locally and globally, stepped in to fill the void. Alongside our local partners we were able to visit of 70 different families over the past year and provide assistance to help in their recovery. In the process we sat in their homes and heard their stories. One lady recounted how she was in another part of city with her young son at the time of the explosion. Her husband was home. He knew firsthand what kind of force the city was hit with as their home was destroyed all around him. Due to the blast, they lost all cell service, and he was unable to contact his wife to see if they were OK. Already suffering from extremely high blood pressure, the anxiety of not knowing where his wife and child were at sent him into a panic attack, of which the effects eventually took his life. Since the blast and death of her husband this woman’s friends and neighbors had come around her and introduced her to the loving arms of Jesus. As we visited with her, we were blessed to hear of how her new faith in Christ had helped her to survive the pain of the past year and given her hope in this life and for eternity.
Time and time again we heard stories of how much worse this could have been. One family left to go to the mountains 5 minutes before the explosion. Another made the split-second decision to walk to the other side of the house, only to have the window where he had been standing shatter into millions of pieces. Time and time again we were able to remind these families that these close calls and near misses were in fact the grace of God. That he had chosen to spare them when they easily could have had a different result. We were able to put the Word of God in their hands and pray in the name of Jesus in over 70 homes and families. Many have since testified of the thankfulness and gratitude they have felt for the lovingkindness of God’s church. Thank you to all of you who generously and even sacrificially gave to bless the Lebanese people.
The road ahead is a long one for Lebanon. In many ways the pain and struggle may just be beginning. But we are reminded that we serve a God who never leaves us nor forsakes us. God has placed his church here in Lebanon for such a time as this, to combat despair with hope, death with life, and darkness with light.
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