Lebanon (MNN) — Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Lebanon was already struggling economically; 33 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Now, with businesses shut-down to contain the virus, over half of the Lebanese people live below the poverty line.
Lebanon is currently in lockdown until April 26. According to Human Rights Watch, millions of Lebanese may go hungry if they don’t get assistance. The government has pledged financial aid to impoverished families, but the announcement came with very few details.
Meanwhile, non-profit organizations and ministries are standing in the gap for the Lebanese people.
Heart for Lebanon distributes aid in the name of Jesus to refugees in the country. Camille Melki, co-founder of Heart for Lebanon, says they are doing everything they can to continue meeting needs during this crisis.
“Today and yesterday and every day coming forward, our staff is on the phone, staying connected, calling every family, every student, doing classes on WhatsApp,…using as well every communication means to pray for encouragement and support the families that we are called to serve.”
Melki says their staff is also making individual visits to refugees. They are going from tent-to-tent, “making sure that we remind them of everything we have taught them in the past of sending a message of hope and encouragement, inviting them for prayers, and to send their prayer requests.”
This time of instability unfortunately means some people will try to take advantage of the chaos for unsavory purposes.
Heart for Lebanon’s other co-founder Tom Atema says, “We are preventing a lot of the negative things that do happen because of poverty because people lose hope – human trafficking, child abuse, just plain abuse, organ selling, and all those different things that are really negative and really bad.”
However, Melki says there is also good news on the ministry front.
“Despite the fear, despite the worries among the refugee population just like the rest of the world, we are seeing many people encouraged. Prayers are being lifted up. We had a lot of people responding to the call of salvation on Sunday.”
You can help Heart for Lebanon get the Gospel and physical relief to hope-starved people. Melki says donations are still reaching them inside the country and now is a critical time to support the ministry.
Also, Melki asks for prayers. “Do pray for our staff and team to stay healthy. Wisdom is much needed today. Pray for wisdom on how we continue to be creative in reaching out to the refugee population. And third, I would say pray…for our leaders, that they keep this virus response very transparent, very clear in their communication, and let people know what is going on.”
Header photo courtesy of Heart for Lebanon.