IMB gets volunteers out of Lebanon, ministry continues

By July 25, 2006

Lebanon (MNN) — With Israel pushing further into Lebanon and rockets continuing to kill many in both Israel and Lebanon, the work of Lebanese Baptists is continuing. That’s the message from Jerry Rankin, the President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board .

According to Rankin, Southern Baptist personnel in the region are safe and accounted for. However, “Another challenge is the number of volunteer teams and groups.”

Rankin says with the help of the United States Navy, the IMB evacuated volunteers with two churches in the U-S from Beirut. He says this conflict caught everyone off guard. “Before this conflict was ignited, Lebanon was one of the most modern and progressive and the commerce was going on without any tensions of that regard. So, certainly we would see that situation which would be absolutely safe for volunteers to come in and work, but suddenly overnight the situation changed. And, that can happen anywhere in the world.”

While the volunteers are safe, Lebanese Baptists and other Christians still need our prayers as many fear the fighting between Hezbollah and Israeli forces will escalate into a full-scale war.

The good news is these kinds of situations are often good for church growth, according to Rankin. “We’ve found that in situations of political chaos and warfare that that people’s traditions and values begin to be questioned. They begin to ask questions that reflect a spiritual search for hope and security that we know only Jesus Christ can provide.”

Southern Baptists hope to provide relief aid to refugees through their Lebanese Baptist friends in the days to come. When Christians help, people in especially Muslim areas begin to ask questions, Rankin says. “(Many ask) ‘Why is it that Christians are the ones helping us and loving us and showing us compassion? It just opens their minds to what it is behind our faith.”

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