Lebanon (MNN) — Syria and Lebanon have a tumultuous history, as Syria occupied Lebanon from 1976 to 2005. The Syrian civil war that began six years later resulted in millions of refugees, many of whom now live in Lebanon.
Some Lebanese aren’t ready to forgive those whose country inflicted hardships on them not long ago. However, Nuna* from Triumphant Mercy Lebanon has found that letting go of the past enables her to show God’s love in the present.
A Difficult History
The Syrian occupation is still on the minds of many who suffered and lost loved ones as a result of the conflict.
“My father was killed during the war, and we lost our home. We lost many friends,” Nuna says.
“I know of people who died because of Syrian shelling. The whole occupation was so hard and so heartless. It just created a hatred in me.”
“Most Lebanese have this background. I don’t think there’s a Lebanese family that didn’t lose somebody because of the Syrian occupation. Every Lebanese family has had to deal with some loss, if it’s family members or friends or businesses or homes.”
With this difficult background, many Lebanese view or treat Syrian refugees poorly. While the long process of forgiveness wasn’t easy, Nuna has found it enables her to share God’s hope with others.
Nuna tries to focus on helping the refugees as opposed to dwelling on the past, but when Syrian refugees voice their frustrations about treatment from the Lebanese, she sometimes has to explain the history between the two countries.
“The people we serve don’t even know what their country did to Lebanon. When they say, ‘the Lebanese don’t like us; they hate us,’ I sometimes have to share this history with the Syrians because they don’t know [about it],” Nuna explains.
The way many Lebanese people feel about the Syrian refugees can sometimes start a conversation about why Nuna and other Christians come to help them.
“[They ask,] ‘why are you helping us? Even the Muslims are not helping us.’ They live in a place where there are many Muslim communities, and the Muslims are not helping them even though they are Muslims too,” Nuna says.
“They come to me as a Christian and ask, ‘why are you, a Christian, helping us?’ [This] starts the conversation of who God is, and how I have inside me this hope that I want to bring to them because they are living in such a hard place.”
*Name changed for security purposes.
The header image shows Triumphant Mercy food distribution. (Photo courtesy of TM Lebanon on Facebook)