Lebanon (MNN) – Protests in Lebanon are now in their fourth week. They seem to have had some impact, but the government’s response is a far cry from systematic change.
Protestors want someone to fix socioeconomic conditions and end a political stalemate. Jane* is a spokeswoman for the prayer ministry Cry Out Now. As a resident of Beirut, Jane’s had a front-row seat to the events taking center stage in Lebanon. So far, the protests are peaceful, and the Lebanese are thankful for that.
Demanding a ‘new normal’
However, that doesn’t mean the situation is without tension. “I think the big frustration of the people out in the streets is with the corruption that has been ruling Lebanon; is the frustration with our government systems; the way that the governing bodies have been governing… the whole way that government structure has been set up.”
She says people are not satisfied with the old way of doing things anymore, and they’re not afraid to say so. “We want a new model. We want a new government that isn’t corrupt. We are kind of on the verge of an economic crisis as well; (it’s) just the reality that if the country was governed better, then economically, we should have been in a better place.”
The whole thing has shifted from a protest event into a movement in the wake of proposed austerity measures that effectively doubled taxes last month.
Lebanon calling out to God
But there’s something different going on among the Christians. Yes, they feel the pressure of high unemployment, inflation, taxes, and cost of living. They’re speaking their minds, too, but this time, Jane observes,” I think one of the things that excite me is to see how believers are responding from a place of faith and prayer in the midst of these uncertain times.” People are choosing to be intentional about praying and about fasting through the crisis.
She thinks the crisis unites Lebanon’s believers because “We realize that the only solution to Lebanon’s situation is Jesus and His kingdom coming to this nation. So it has been encouraging to hear different churches, different leading groups, different ministries, dedicating times daily to come together to pray, (and) to fast.”
Jane also noted an event that occurred last week. Cry Out Now puts together a prayer event called ‘Incense & Fire’, now in its fourth year. This year, local ministries organized the event and coordinated the vigil themselves. They picked the weekend months before Lebanon erupted into protests, having no idea how timely intervention would become during the weekend event.
Jane explains, “So the timing of it was just so in God’s hand, but basically over this weekend, we gathered for 40 hours, and we just prayed and fasted nonstop for 40 hours, asking God to bring a breakthrough in Lebanon. And again, it was encouraging to see people give up sleep, give up time to gather, to be intentional about asking God for His kingdom to come, for his breakthroughs in the season.”
With one voice…
Another unique note, she says, is the unity developing throughout the protests. Believers find themselves speaking with one voice. “We don’t want a corrupt government. We don’t want judges
that are choosing sides based on keeping allegiances and keeping people happy. We want righteousness to rule this nation.'” As a result, they are much more intentional about “…gathering together and calling on God to give us righteous judges, to give us righteous leaders, to bring breakthroughs, to bring the harvest in this nation.”
While she’s encouraged by the Lebanese Church’s response to current events, a few critical prayer points still remain. One is the appointment of a new Prime Minister and another, the new government. “We need to continue standing in the gap for this nation, and we need to continue standing on the wall, to pray for this nation, and to pray for God’s grace to be on this nation.”
A final thought from one of the women Jane spoke with a few weeks ago. This woman has lived for at least three decades in the region. “‘We’ve been praying for years for a righteous government,” the woman observed. “What if this is God’s way of answering our prayers?'”
*alias used for security purposes
Headline photo courtesy Tongeron91/Flickr/CC