After the Beirut explosion on August 4th, our local partners in Lebanon formed a team to help coordinate cleanup and repairs efforts. Six staff, 11 interns and disciples, and several volunteers joined the effort to visit homes, churches, schools and hospitals to help with cleaning and clearing the glass and rubble caused by the explosion. The team was able to join in the efforts to clean 120 homes, two schools, four churches and one hospital.
They did a field survey of homes affected by the explosion and assessed ways they could help the affected families. The needs varied from urgent repairs to walls, doors, windows, glass replacement, replacement of appliances to personal needs like food, medicine, elderly and baby care products. Teams were divided into smaller groups that went back to these homes to bless families by helping provide some of their needs.
They met Anna through a referral by a family that we were helping. Anna is a single mother who raised three boys on her own after her husband left them. She used to work at a school selling snacks and cooking for elderly people around her neighborhood. After the Lebanese Revolution started in October and the COVID-19 lockdown happened in March, she lost her job at the school due to school closures.
As if that wasn’t enough, she also lost her job cooking for the elderly after their families requested she stop to prevent possible spread of the virus. Anna was left without a job and has since struggled to afford food for herself, leaving her going to bed most nights on an empty stomach.
Then the explosion happened and Anna was left devastated and lost hope completely. When our team showed up on her doorstep with food packages, she was overjoyed. She hadn’t received this kind of help or generosity from anyone.
After the team fixed things around her house, they shared about who they were and why they do what they do. “We told her our aim is to show God’s love and tell everyone about Him,” explained our partner. “She was very open since she was from a Christian background.”
They spent time praying for her and when it was done she cried, “Your prayer is so beautiful from the heart. I don’t deserve it. I’m so far away from God and I’m not a good person. I don’t talk to Him or anything. But sometimes I look up and speak to Him but I don’t feel He listens to me.”
“God is close to you and He loves you,” they reassured her. “He has been taking care of you. Whatever you say, He listens to you. Keep talking and praying to Him.”
Anna was so touched that she invited the team to come back another time. Once they left, she sent them a voice note saying, “I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for thinking about us and helping us. I’m so happy that everything in the food pack was what I really needed.”
The team has done 450 connections so far with the number expected to reach our 500 families target in the coming week. By early September, have visited 320 homes of the 420, blessing the people and providing repairs, food packs, medicine and the message of hope in a loving God who truly loves and cares for them. Of those they visited and blessed, 13 people made the decision to commit their lives to Jesus.
When we announced that we were working with local partners to respond to the crisis in Beirut, you stepped up to help. Because of your timely support, we have been able to provide relief and aid to families, individuals and churches that have been affected by the enormous August 4 explosion that left the city destroyed. Hundreds were killed, thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.
Our partners on the ground wasted no time, making sure to get out into the community to help clean up, deliver aid packages and spend time praying with the people they encountered. These acts of service provided even a little bit of hope for residents of the Lebanese capital, who have already endured multiple hardships, including a political and economic crisis, not to mention a global pandemic.
The Armenian Evangelical Central High School in Beirut was one of the buildings that sustained damage in the blast earlier this month. Our local partners spent two days at the school, helping clear broken glass and debris, and making sure to divide and sort for recycling.
They also spent time visiting houses in neighbourhoods in Ashrafieh (a district in Beirut), assessing the damage and cleaning up debris, as well as distributing aid including food packages, cleaning materials and care packages. Out of the visits came meaningful conversations with the people they interacted with. Every act of service provided the opportunity to share the love of Jesus and start to build authentic relationships.
There is still a lot more to be done. The people of Beirut are still dealing with trauma, unemployment, food insecurity, a lack of available medical treatment and heightened stress.
The people of Beirut are still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s explosion, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
This week, our local partners spent some time visiting neighbourhoods in Achrafieh to assess damage and help clean up debris. They also distributed food packages, cleaning materials and care packs while taking time to pray for the people that they encounter, helping to share God’s love in this devastating time.