August 3, 2006—War has erupted once again in this volatile region of the world. Lebanese and Israelis have been killed and wounded, cities and towns devastated, and thousands of people displaced and left homeless. Where is Christ in the middle of all this suffering and destruction? Where is his compassionate care feeding the hungry and providing families a place to lay their heads? Where does his touch bring healing? Where do his comforting words calm the anxious and afraid? Where is his peace in the midst of the storm?
The Church of God is at work in Lebanon, serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in these troubling and dangerous days. Under the guidance Church of God leaders, people are coming together to help make a difference. Even out of their own meager resources, they are sharing what they have so that others may live. Kinderhilfswerks, a German charitable organization concerned with the needs of children, has already contributed to their efforts. Church of God Ministries is likewise concerned and has made $10,000 available for immediate emergency response to assist the relief efforts of the Church of God and other Christian nonprofit groups in the region for the sake of helping to relieve the immense suffering of the people in Lebanon.
Rev. Joy Mallouh reports that the Ashrafieh congregation, along with members of the church-sponsored scout troop and other volunteers, is concentrating on three specific areas of need. (1) The citizens of the southern village of Jezzine, many of whom are living communally in buildings that have not been totally destroyed, are in desperate need of food and clean water, first-aid supplies, and toiletries. Twice, the congregation has put together 250 packets, each costing $12 to $15, sufficient to feed a family of five for two days. So far, these packets have been delivered safely to Jezzine. (2) Three displaced families, thirteen people altogether, are being sheltered in a small two-room apartment in the Ashrafieh Church of God building. (3) Four hundred displaced people from the south are being housed in a local school in Beirut. Supplies of food, toiletries, medicines, detergents and cleaning supplies, and mattresses and bedding are being purchased and distributed.
Rev. Adel Masri reports that Theopolis, the Church of God camp in the mountains north of Beirut, has been opened to house displaced Lebanese. As of July 30, the camp was housing eighteen families from the bombed suburbs on the south side of Beirut, as well as eighteen orphans.
Since the Israeli bombing of the Beirut International Airport in the early hours of the morning on July 13 in response to Hezballah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers just the day before, more than a thousand Lebanese and Israelis have been killed in the conflict. More than one thousand Lebanese children under twelve years of age have been killed or injured. One million people, one-quarter of Lebanon’s population, have been displaced, their homes and businesses reduced to rubble as bombs continue to pound southern Lebanon, south Beirut, and towns and villages in the fertile Bekaa Valley. With Hezballah’s rockets continuing to shell northern Israel, reaching beyond the port city of Haifa, and with Israel’s army having crossed the border into Lebanon, occupying a post as far north as Baalbak, there seems little hope that a cease-fire will soon become a reality.
The population of Beirut has more than doubled as hundreds of thousands of people flee the bombing of the south and make their perilous way to the city. Public and private schools are overflowing as classrooms become home to families whose houses have been destroyed. Many are sick or injured. All are hungry and in need of the basic supplies of life. Some medical supplies have been allowed to enter the country from Jordan, but with the constant bombing and the air, road, and sea blockades, supplies of food, as well as fuel to run power plants and generators, are in very short supply. It is reported that as of today, there remains less than a five-day supply of fuel to power electric plants, even with the strict rationing that leaves the city of Beirut dark for all but about eight hours a day.
Just wanted my friends to see that not all US-based Christians are rooting for a near-term Armageddon, or seeing the unfolding tragedy from the viewpoint of spectators in some sort of cosmic/historic/prophetic sporting event. Some are reaching out in solidarity with those who are on the groud, putting their lives at risk to heal, not kill, the vulnerable.