Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Christian Voice from Lebanon: "Israel was Waiting for an Opportunity"

What is it like to be a Christian in Lebanon, involved in ministry and watching the destruction of the people to whom Christ has sent you? Here is a letter that came into my possession from a Lebanese believer who lived in a westernized nation for a time, but is now back in Lebanon serving Christ. His name and some details are removed for his emotional well being (in light of what happened to another letter-writer who's missive I posted here, I think it a good idea).

Greetings from us here in Lebanon. I knew that this summer was going to be hot but I did not think it was going to be this hot. Nevertheless we are all well, praise God, and in good spirit. But we would appreciate your prayers at this time for Lebanon and the safety of its people as the country is crippled in many ways and in so much danger, not just from Israel but from internal fighting as a result of this war.

Some of you back home have asked what I think of the war. Many of us here feel that Lebanon was taken hostage by Hezbollah who decided to do this on their own bat; this has really hurt the government and many Lebanese who had no say and no desire for war. At the same time many Lebanese feel Israel's great hatred by their overreaction. As I reflect on Israel's overreaction I wish I could remind them of God's word in the O.T. that says "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." [1] Hezbollah took an eye by taking the two soldiers but Israel has taken not just the whole body but the whole nation. We know that Israel was waiting for an opportunity and needed an excuse to attack.

What is also funny is all that talk about Israel having the right to defend itself by destroying a whole nation over two soldiers. Have they forgotten what it feels like to be destroyed by Hitler?! Israel was supposed to be a blessing to the nations may it not become a curse. For all the nations must give an account. Our hearts break over the death of hundreds of innocent civilians and to see Lebanon become rubble... this is very unjust.

"Israel was waiting for an opportunity and
needed an excuse to attack."

It is so good to hear from so many of you by phones and emails. We thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement. My wife and the kids are doing fine but cannot wait for the war to stop so they can go places and have some fun before the school holiday finishes. One night we were holding hands to pray as a family for Lebanon and it was my young son’s turn to lead in prayer. He is nearly five, and he prayed this prayer, "Lord please stop the war, I had enough."

The situation here is very uncertain and right now the war looks like taking time and getting much worse. The last ship sent to evacuate us [*] left on Tuesday; we are not going anywhere at this stage because we would like to stay on as long as possible so that we can share Christ with others and encourage those who are fearful (so far we don't feel that there an immediate danger on us where we live). The Lord is opening many doors to share the gospel with others and that is exciting.

The other day the Lord blessed me with a man who was visiting a neighbor of ours. The neighbor called me to come down to his place to encourage this guy who was really struggling with the situation in Lebanon. After a few hours of listening to him I shared the gospel and he made a real commitment to Christ. Now that encouraged and comforted my heart more than anything else in this war.

What great opportunities are always available to the disciples of Jesus who are half awake to the Spirit of missions. God gives a high that is much higher than any ecstasy pill to the one engaged in missional warfare and who sees the captives set free. The Israelis have very powerful bombs that are destroying buildings and turning them into powder. But we have a much more powerful weapon called the gospel which destroys the works of the devil and gives eternal life not death.

We also had a second youth rally about 3 weeks ago and it took place in the south of Lebanon where all the bombing is going on right now close to the Israeli boarder. This was the first time we go there and we got away with it praise God. It is a different place than the city with a very small Christian community and a strong Muslim area.

The Israelis have very powerful bombs... But we have a much more powerful weapon called the gospel which destroys the works of the devil and gives eternal life not death.
We knew there was not going to be a huge turn out because not many people know us and plus it has a small population. But because it is such a neglected area with no gospel outreach I thought it would be good to begin a work there, of encouraging the few little churches and together with them reach out to others.

The outreach went well and we declared the gospel through music and word. About two hundred people turned out with many non-churched people which was more than we expected. I gave a clear salvation message and asked people to pray if they wanted to receive Christ.

We feel a good number of people responded and committed their lives to the Lord. So it was a great start and the people thanked us so much for having Youth Alive there. God willing we will go back there again some other time when it is safe to do so. Regarding the bible college we are on holidays at the moment. We have about eighty displaced people living on our campus at the moment. They are both from Christian and Muslim backgrounds.

We were going to have another Youth Alive rally, this time in the Bekaa valley, but had to cancel it due the heavy bombing in that area. I was also booked to go to Singapore and lecture in evangelism at Haggai Institute but I had to cancel it as well as other speaking engagements in a number of church camps due to the war situation.

Please pray:

1. For the peace of Lebanon, for a cease fire, the displaced and Lebanon's restoration

2. For the Gospel to reach thousands at this time who would not normally listen

3. For our bible college to be effective in reaching those on our campus.

4. For our safety and well being as a family. Yesterday when Israel bombed Beirut we were 15 mins down from our place visiting, and the home we were in shook big time, the sound was the loudest we have ever heard and it was very scary.Once again thank you for all you care. Be all that our Lord has made you for and do not be satisfied with anything less.

Best regards
Your friend in Lebanon

(Foot notes added by bluechristian)
* - The writer is not American, but is a Westerner.
[1] Exo 21:24; Lev 24:20, Deut. 19:21 (and for context) Matt 5:38.

For another good representation of Lebanese Christian, see Christianity Today's "Evangelical Blindness" article.

This article was edited due to an error in the introduction suggesting the letter writer was a westerner; this was untrue and the intro is changed to reflect that fact.

No comments: