Lebanon (MNN) — Many ministries are trying to equip leaders to do ministry all around the world.
But not many are working out of Lebanon.
Pierre Houssney of Horizons International thinks people tend to underestimate the presence of believers in Lebanon. There are over 100 evangelical Christian churches in the country, and estimates show that there are between 10,000 and 20,000 believers. Houssney thinks those numbers are actually probably higher.
“Many, like me, have never changed their identity cards from Orthodox or Maronite Christian or Sunni or Shiite Muslim identity cards, so there are many believers here in Lebanon and throughout the region that are just not known by international audiences,” he says.
Houssney calls the community of believers “tight-knit” and says Horizons has been able to “unite denominations, groups, and individuals for more effective ministry.”
Houssney believes the way his ministry is operating in Lebanon is unique in the world of mobilization. Usually, the focus is on bringing in foreign workers.
“The model of the past is you send one missionary and they establish a church and work, but it really takes them decades to do any kind of work that lasts,” he says. Instead, Horizons focuses on equipping the national Church so foreign missionaries can collaborate with believers who already have a ministry presence and understand their own culture.
The skills and knowledge foreign missionaries have are “multiplied many times over because of the partnership with nationals,” Houssney says.
And the impact of these national and international partnerships is already showing. Local churches that would normally keep to themselves are reaching out into their communities. And when the refugee crisis forced churches to step up, Houssney says they answered the call.
“They are now seeing Syrian refugees flood into their congregations, and we’re helping them witness to them and give them resources and humanitarian aid while discipling them,” he says. “The churches are baptizing them and adding to their number every day.”
Horizons is growing, too. They’re currently establishing new outreach centers across the Middle East and North Africa. The buildings they already have set up are getting upgrades in 2018. They’re also working on ministry centers around Lebanon that will prepare leaders to send into Syria.
Although things are going well for the Lebanese Church, there is still a lot of need.
“The churches that do exist, though they are numerous, are still very few compared to the need,” Houssney says. “We still have 400 million Muslims in the Arabic speaking world.”
“We’d love it if you’d spread this information to your churches and anybody you know so they’d start having a bigger awareness of the ministries that already exist in the region,” Houssney says.
“We need partnerships to be formed between historically Christian areas and pioneering Christian areas so that we can grow the kingdom in these strategic ways.”
“This is a time of amazing harvest, and we’re praying that the Lord would open the door even further, that this will not be a window of opportunity but a continued season of opportunity.”