Hezbollah street protests hamper Christian work

By December 5, 2006

Lebanon (MNN) — Mass protests in Lebanon are causing problems for Christian humanitarian groups working in the region. Gunfire between anti-government Shiites and pro-government Sunnis were an ominous sign that efforts by the Shia Hezbollah movement to bring down the Sunni-led government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora (foo-AHD sehn-YOUR-ah) could rapidly devolve into all-out sectarian conflict.

The conflict is already affecting those helping the victims last summer’s Israel/Hezbollah conflict. TouchGlobal, the relief and development arm of the EFCA , has been affected.

Director of Touch Global Jim Snyder says their relationship with the Evangelical Free Church in Lebanon has grown dramatically. A medical team from the United States was supposed to travel to Lebanon to help the church with humanitarian efforts, says Snyder. “The medical team was canceled because of the intense political situation there. Our partners recommended we not show up.”

While the medical team’s work is temporarily on hold, the Lebanese church continues to reach out, Snyder says. “None of our partners are so dependant upon us that the work of the church can not continue. So, as we take a look at the situation right now in Lebanon, in many cases it’s providing opportunities for the local church that never before existed.”

Since Hezbollah and other Islamic groups haven’t stepped in to help with humanitarian aid, Snyder says many people have looked to Christians for help. “God has offered us opportunities to further our relationships with a number of families that has led to their beginning to come to either Bibles studies or to church planting situations there.”

While the internally displaced are now living with family members as they rebuild their homes, Snyder says there are needs. As winter approaches, victims are facing lack of heat and other winter related problems.

As Touch Global reaches out in Lebanon, opportunities are opening up in other countries as well. Pray for funding and calm as the church continues to be salt and light in a difficult situation.

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