Lebanon (MNN) — Recently, we shared a report from the ground about the recent fires that destroyed several homes in two separate Syrian refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Heart for Lebanon has been ministering to the families who were victims of the second fire on July 4th. This ministry is a friend and partner of SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa.
As we shared previously, 25 tents burned up in the fire, and one little girl was killed. It’s since been confirmed that the fire started as a result of an overloaded telephone line where families had been syphoning electricity. The family who lost their daughter, Hagar, held her funeral last week. Heart for Lebanon has been meeting with them and other families affected by the fire.
Tom Atema says, “Our staff — Heart for Lebanon staff — has been there, comforting them, holding conversations, talking to Jesus, praying with them, consoling them, and helping them through the grief process.”
But help is coming from other refugees as well. Atema says in the Middle East, there is a heavy emphasis on family. Because of this, there is a great sense of care among the families living in this tent community.
“The people opened up the little room they had and said, ‘Come on and join us, we’ll share our food,’” he shares.
Heart for Lebanon has provided more food. They’re also assisting families to rebuild the tents. Additionally, the ministry is footing medical bills for the people who were severely burned in the fire.
“The other children, people that were burned that were in the hospital are back out of the hospital, back in the tent settlements. [They’re] not perfectly healed yet, but because they are Syrian refugees they have to prepay for [the] hospital stay, and money ran out. We helped a number of them stay a day or two longer, but they’re at a place where they’re safe enough and healed enough.”
Ministries come together
Syrians have been at the mercy of Lebanon’s hospitality for several years now. Atema says they’ve received a mixed welcome. Some, he explains, have not embraced the refugees.
“There are others that, whether they’re Christian or Muslim, will not embrace Syrian refugees because they can’t forget the past, for one reason or another,” he says.
This sentiment is exacerbated by another struggle.
“The economy in Lebanon is at a breaking point. There’s not a lot of extra wealth that can be poured into Syrian refugees.”
This is a pretty common scenario, and that’s what makes aid organizations so valuable. Atema says there are quite a number of groups who’ve reached out to the Syrians in their time of need.
“The ones doing the best work are your faith-based organizations that are in there doing it. SAT-7 [is] coming from a media standpoint, providing media coverage and providing programming to help with trauma and different things like that. Many different organizations like Heart for Lebanon [and] even Youth for Christ Lebanon is doing an awesome job with teenagers.”
These organizations are able to offer a hope that is not based on humanitarian aid — the Gospel. Additionally, there are local churches who have moved past any bad history between the two nations to serve with unconditional love. There are also several secular NGOs who’ve been providing aid.
As this camp recovers from the fire, Atema says we can pray for the workers from all organizations “to just slow down long enough and to be compassionate enough to listen to the people and really, really minister to them.”
You can also be praying that the Church in Lebanon continues to minister well to the refugees. For more information on SAT-7, click here.