Lebanon (MNN) — It’s been nearly six months since anti-government protests began in Beirut, Lebanon. In mid-October, people took to the streets en masse with a new dream of revolution. Proposed tax increases led to weeks of widespread protests, the prime minister’s ouster, and Cabinet reform. Read our coverage here.
“It’s a dream that’s been asleep in the hearts of many Lebanese people because they believed it could only be a dream,” explains Pierre Houssney, Executive Director of Horizons International.
“One of the most powerful things about the revolution is that it actually gave a sense that this dream could become a reality.”
Fast-forward to today, however, and the dream looks more like a nightmare.
“There’s a sense that things have to get worse before it can get better,” Houssney says.
Layers of crisis
COVID-19 is the latest addition to Lebanon’s multi-layered crisis. The pandemic compounds existing economic, financial, and humanitarian problems.
Prior to the revolution, margins were very tight for the average Lebanese family. The cost of living is very high in Lebanon, Houssney explains, but most people take home very little income from their paycheck. “Then, when you added the Syrian refugee crisis, you had a lot of those ‘blue-collar’ Lebanese people losing their jobs because Syrian refugees would do the jobs for much cheaper,” he adds.
Lebanon’s economic collapse, which began last spring, has only grown worse. Many locally-owned businesses have shut down, while others drastically cut wages – some by up to 50-percent.
“All of that is unraveling for the people on the street, and the frustrating part is that the rich are making lots of money off of the currency devaluation when the poor people are losing.”
With an office and ministry centers in Beirut, the struggle is real for Horizons. “We are seeing the needs increase and we are wanting to jump forward and fill the gap to a larger degree,” Houssney says.
“At the same time, we’re struggling with inflation of prices [for] humanitarian aid… we’re not getting as much food for the money anymore. So, it almost feels like we’re faltering at a time when we really need to be rushing forward and investing on a whole new level.”
Thankfully, “most of our financial support comes from international sources,” he continues, so funding is still available for programs. “We’re able to do that because there are people that are faithfully supporting the ministry.”
Whatever lies ahead, there’s no sign of the revolution ending anytime soon. More about that here. And, as long as Gospel opportunities remain, believers aim to share their hope in Christ.
“We’re going to keep working as long as God allows that…because what God is doing in the region is opening hearts to the Gospel,” Houssney says.
“This is the time for the Church globally to respond and take advantage of that opportunity where Muslims are really coming to Christ.”
Use the prompts listed alongside this article to surround Lebanon, its people, and Horizons International in prayer.
Header image depicts a veiled female protestor in Tyre/Sour, Southern Lebanon, fliming with her mobile phone a female activist singer during nonsectarian demonstrations against government corruption and austerity measures that started across the country on October 17th, 2019. (Photo, caption courtesy RomanDeckert via Wikimedia Commons)