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Terrible Trauma in Beirut - Christian Voices from Lebanon

Terrible Trauma in Beirut - Christian Voices from Lebanon

On the evening of August 4, 2020, a violent explosion which was probably caused by the chemical ammonium nitrate occurred in the port area of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. On the evening of August 4, 2020, a violent explosion which was probably caused by the chemical ammonium nitrate occurred in the port area of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon.(Screenshot)
ByPastor Dr. Lajos Békefy August 12, 2020
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My only hope

Oh God, it is only you;

Come and see me,

Oh, don't leave me alone!

Old Hungarian church song,

19th Century

The massive explosion that shook Beirut on 3rd August 2020 Monday night claimed more than 140 lives. Hundreds were injured and more than 300,000 people had to leave their homes that were partially or completely ruined. The German Reformed News Service as well as English-speaking Christian and non-Christian portals are constantly reporting on the tragedy. World organizations, governments, aid organizations and churches are rushing to the scene with personal and financial assistance. Our Hungarian government is providing one million euros in aid for reconstruction and care for those in need.

SHAKING WORDS 

Representatives of the National Evangelical Protestant Church in Beirut and NEST, the Middle Eastern Theological Academy, are reporting serious damage. NEST President George Sabra said after Monday’s tragic explosion: “Thank God that in the massive explosion that shook much of Beirut, none of those in our Academy, NEST, were injured. Those in the building came out unscathed after the explosions. However, the material damage is very significant. Doors, windows and huge glass surfaces were shattered in the many storeys building. This building has never been damaged, even during the 15-year war in Lebanon. In other parts of the city, even more, serious damage has occurred. ”

Many were horrified when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the Mediterranean port and surrounding neighborhoods. It was equivalent to an earthquake of 3.3 deep in the coastal mountains of Lebanon and as far away as Cyprus.

In an interview with the leader of Beirut's 12 Protestant pastors, Joseph Kassab, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Syrian and Lebanese Protestant communities spoke with a local correspondent for CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Pastor Kassab said: " But even here, in the mountains, broken windows signaled the explosion. One of the most affected buildings is the Church of the Light of Jesus, one of the denominations of the Christian Covenant. Similarly, there was massive damage to the downtown Anglican Church. Every stained glass window in the historic National Lutheran Church exploded. The pastor was terrified by the first vibration and then the second explosion. It affected everyone--Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslim neighborhoods suffered injuries and damage to buildings. In this situation, we need money to repair and houses and procure medical care and food. Repair costs for damaged buildings can now be twice the actual minimum monthly wage. And you have to pay in cash, which almost no one has. So many people have been evicted from their homes. The explosion also destroyed basic goods in the port, such as wheat warehouses along with the grain. We also suffer from education and ask our Lutheran friends to support the institutions of the Protestant community. These help to maintain our Protestant identity and mission, said the leading Protestant pastor in Beirut.

 IS THIS ENOUGH: HELP YOURSELF, GOD HELP YOU?

Lebanese Protestant schools will set up a delegation to ask for help from the U.S. and British embassies, just as the French Foreign Secretary promised to help Catholic schools. But we want to draw the attention of our brothers in the West and especially in the United States. Our common history and mission began 200 years ago. Nevertheless, we want to continue what our ancestors started, this is our legacy.

In the Church, we fear that a significant wave of migration will begin. Emigration affects Christian communities the most. We need to help people meet their needs and reduce the damage suffered by the Christian community. In the midst of such severe pain, we must become better churches. We are not Christians to sit in the corner, but to witness to Christ and work on building the kingdom of God in Beirut, Pastor Kassab emphasized.

SHRINKS IN THE SOULS, ON STREETS - BUT CHURCH WILL RISE AGAIN

Located in the mountains overlooking Beirut, the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) escaped the worst of the shock waves. After losing students due to COVID-19, it has already opened its dormitories for healthcare workers.

Many family members of the RESURRECTION CHURCH in Beirut suffered damage to their homes. So they organized the purchase of furniture and sent their volunteers to the downtown area to help clear the streets of debris.

 "It is time for the wounded church to rise again," said Pastor Hikmat Kashouh, "and to play a healing role in restoring God's commission in a practical and caring manner."

QUESTION MARKS

However, Lebanese Christians are not uniform in their assessment of national threats. In a nation that is evenly divided between Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Shiite Muslims, their community receives a national presidency. (By comparison, Coptic Christians in Egypt make up only about 10 percent of the population.) Ralph Zarazir, a representative of the Free Patriotic Movement, asks questions of the West. So far, all support has depended on economic and political reform. Despite the presence of certain groups that the West has not loved in our country before, we are in a country where Christians have the highest percentage of presence in the Middle East and we also have a large Protestant community, he says.

HOPE AGAINST HOPELESS

Lebanese Protestants can only trust God, at least in their individual lives. We pray for those who have lost loved ones,” said Raymond Abou Mekhael, pastor of the Baptist Church of Christ and the Bible, who survived the explosion unscathed. "We ask the Lord to use these circumstances to bring people back to God's Word, to seek His will in his life." For the nation, as for the Lebanese people in general, this is a moment of collective despair. “As a country, we are reaching a low point. Other things can go wrong, but the worst-case scenario couldn’t be worse, ”said Charlie Costa, pastor of the Ras Beirut Baptist Church. - Is there any hope? Yes. Only God can help us recover! ”.

CCD reposted with permission.

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