Lebanon (MNN) — Pressure from Muslim extremists had forced Horizons International to close down its Tripoli Center for several months. However, as Horizons’ Pierre Houssney reports, believers are now rejoicing.
“We’ve been able to reopen,” Houssney shares. “Our staff members have really felt a burden to keep moving forward with the Gospel…but it has not been without fear, trepidation.
“We’ve been on our knees praying about, ‘What’s the line between wisdom and foolishness? Between being bold and being stupid?’”
From the beginning, Horizons International knew they might face trouble in Tripoli. Located in Northern Lebanon, the city is home to many Muslim extremists.
“We established a ministry center right next to the government building in order to benefit from its security, but still we have had persecution,” says Houssney.
“We’ve had Muslim sheikhs, leaders, come in with video cameras trying to intimidate people. We’ve had exposés on national TV by these Muslims leaders. We’ve even had rogue forces of the military secret police that have come in on their own personal impetus and shut down the center, about a year and a half ago.”
More recently, rising pressure from Muslim extremists led Horizons staff to prayer, and eventually a decision to temporarily close down the Tripoli Center. Circumstances were troubling, but God was at work behind the scenes.
While the center was closed, believers met individually with people who had been coming to their services. As described here, a more intimate setting led to more openness.
They shared all their problems and prayer requests and were much more comfortable doing so than when they were in the center. When the center was reopened, they came back more open and trusting.
“We have seen people come to Christ; a few dozen people have come to Christ from Muslim backgrounds in that Tripoli Center,” says Houssney.
“We continue to press forward in faith that that number will continue to grow.”
Will you partner with them in prayer?
“Pray for Sheikh Bilal,” Houssney requests. “He’s the main Muslim leader who’s been persecuting our center and the cause of the Gospel. Pray that the Lord would convict him…that he would stop stirring up persecution from the Muslim community.”
Pray also for nonbelievers in Tripoli, and for the protection of Horizons staff.
“Pray that the Lord would open the hearts of individuals that they might see the light of salvation in Christ.”