Lebanon (MNN) — A lousy year turns even worse for Lebanon. According to Reuters, Western powers just handed Beirut an ultimatum: there will be no bailout unless they form a credible government to overhaul a bankrupt state – and do it quickly.
The news comes as leaders issued a nationwide lockdown to contain another COVID-19 breakout. Restrictions began on November 14 and continue through the end of the month. “We are worried that we might reach a point where people die in the streets with no places available at hospitals,” caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said when he announced the lockdown last week.
“I don’t know how many people will follow this because it’s hard on the economy,” Nuna* of Triumphant Mercy says.
“People can’t continue this way.”
Under the latest lockdown restrictions, only companies working in specific sectors can open their doors. That puts small business owners in a challenging position.
“If they open, they’re going to get a big fine. But economically, they can’t afford to [stay] closed, so it’s a hard situation,” Nuna says.
Losing hope in Lebanon
Lebanon began the year under a new prime minister who faced overwhelming economic and governance challenges. Then came COVID-19, food shortages, protests, and the deadly August explosion. See our Lebanon coverage here.
Today, half of Lebanon’s population lives below the poverty line, and that number is steadily rising. “People who used to have some work, who used to be able to support themselves, now are turning to us,” Nuna says.
“We have never seen this before. It’s really, really hard on people; really, really hard.”
A locally-produced documentary recently shared the struggles of Lebanese citizens. In downtown Beirut, older people cried because the August blast left them without windows and temperatures were quickly dropping. “It rained one day, and they were so cold because [they had] no windows,” Nuna says.
Without money to purchase fuel, these vulnerable populations have no way to heat their homes. Nuna says for one man interviewed by producers, surviving each day was difficult beyond description or comparison.
“[He said,] ‘I have lived through two world wars. I have lived [through] occupation; I have lived [through] the Lebanese war. I have lived all these things, and I’ve never been in this situation that I’m in now.”
Looking for a brighter tomorrow
“Nothing else is good. Politics [are] not good; [the] economy is not good,” Nuna says.
“The situation of people is not good. But the one thing that is good is this openness, and this hunger and thirst that people have for God.”
In the past, “it was harder to talk to Lebanese people because they are very religious,” Nuna explains. “But now with this situation they need a personal God, and they didn’t have that [before].”
Pray for Lebanese believers as they answer spiritual questions with Gospel hope.
“They have so many questions: is it possible that He is interested in me? Is it possible that He would change my situation? Is it possible that He loves me?”
*– Name changed for security purposes.
Header image courtesy of Uncharted Ministries.