Lebanon upheaval creates new paths to outreach.

By December 6, 2006

Lebanon (MNN)–Diplomatic efforts intensified in Lebanon this week as a standoff turned deadly. The tensions are palpable.

Hezbollah-dominated protesters filled downtown Beirut demanding change. Lebanon’s army responded giving rise to fears of sectarian violence.

This brings to life the specter of the country’s 1975-90 civil war, with shifting alliances among Lebanese political parties.

The mood is surly, and the ones caught in the middle are the refugees. In the midst of this threatening crisis, an HCJB World Radio medical missions team just returned from work in south Lebanon.

‘Sheila’ says their time ended just before the streets erupted in rioting. The work they accomplished in the region, she explains, was timely. “Clinics and local health centers were closed. Healthcare professionals had left the area.”

A brief cessation of hostilities meant refugees were returning home to see what was left. However, the medical community was largely gone. Shiela says, “The role that we fulfilled during the time that we were there was really just walk-in clinic basis and really taking care of people’s chronic health needs. What we actually found was that a lot of people who came to our clinics really just wanted to talk.”
Informal debriefing sessions went a long way toward opening ministry doors for the team. Sheila notes the outcome of the conflict in Lebanon may result in an even more evangelical church. “This has really been a wake-up call for them to reach out to their neighbors. Many of them had been evacuated to Beirut. Many of them had rubbed shoulders with some of their Muslim neighbors that normally they would not have contact with. They realized that as they were all in it together, that they were just the same as everybody else.”

Area churches have taken ownership of the relationships HCJB began and are building on them. Teams will be doing follow-up in the days ahead. Please pray for their safety as peace remains a tentative issue in Lebanon.

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