Coronavirus: believers overcome fear to care for the vulnerable

By March 20, 2020

Lebanon (MNN) — Tomorrow marks the halfway point of Lebanon’s two-week coronavirus lockdown. Earlier this week, President Michel Aoun asked citizens to self-quarantine at home until March 29. Lebanon’s land, air, and sea ports sealed to most traffic midweek.

Over 150 coronavirus cases have been confirmed so far, but testing is severely limited, and other critical medical needs aren’t being met. “We are almost at half of our hospital capacity. This is significantly scary for the population in Lebanon,” Heart for Lebanon’s Camille Melki says.

Every student is receiving material to keep them studying while our non-formal schools are closed by order from the Ministry of Education.
(Photo, caption courtesy of Heart for Lebanon via Facebook)

“Lebanon has only 800 ICU rooms in all our hospitals; 400 of those rooms are available for coronavirus patients. One-hundred of those 400 rooms do not have ventilators in them.”

Responding like Jesus

In situations like these, the most vulnerable people in society are often the first to “fall through the cracks” and lose access to care or resources. Or, in the case of Syrian refugees, they’re the first group locals blame for the latest crisis.

“It seems like our government and a large population of Lebanon is blaming the refugee population for this virus for no reason at all,” Melki says. Yet, “there have been no recorded coronavirus incidents among the refugee population.”

Before the lockdown went into effect, Heart for Lebanon met refugees’ tangible needs by distributing food, education supplies, and hygiene kits. Now, they’re finding creative ways to deliver the hope of Christ while still obeying orders to restrict social contact, Melki says.

“We are not doing ministry as we [did] before, but we continue to serve and we continue to lead people from despair to hope in Christ and Christ alone.”

As described here, most Syrian refugees lack the funding needed to purchase adequate sanitation supplies. This puts them at an even greater risk of becoming infected. The refugee camps’ crowded and dilapidated conditions mean the coronavirus would spread like wildfire.

In early March, Heart for Lebanon teams delivered sanitation training and hygiene kits to more than 2,000 refugee families. These efforts build upon a foundation of prevention, Melki says.

“Three years ago, Heart for Lebanon’s Hope on Wheels program was going from tent settlement to tent settlement teaching children and families how to wash their hands. In fact, we demonstrated this over and over and over again; people were wondering, ‘Is this necessary?’,” he describes.

(Graphic courtesy of Heart for Lebanon via Facebook)

“We had brochures and pamphlets distributed about health awareness and cleanliness, and prevention of disease. Today, all that is paying off.”

Find your place in the story

We may not know what tomorrow holds, but the Lord does. Ask Him how He’d like you to respond now that you know this information. Then, take further action as the Lord leads. Find ways to help on Heart for Lebanon’s website.

Above all else, please pray. Pray for the continued health of Heart for Lebanon’s team. Pray for wisdom and creativity as they continue reaching out to the refugee population.



Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy Miguel Montejano from Pexels.

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