Lebanon (MNN) — Six weeks after a massive explosion obliterated downtown Beirut, parts of Lebanon’s capital city are starting to recover.
“It’s proof once again that the Lebanese people are resilient,” Heart for Lebanon’s Tom Atema says. Atema returned from Beirut shortly before speaking with MNN.
“There [are] some parts where you would not know the blast happened six weeks ago, and there [are] other areas that are totally devastated and probably won’t get fixed for a long time because they’re going to be extremely expensive.”
The blast killed nearly 200 people and left at least 300,000 homeless, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy reports. With an interim government and flat-lined economy, Beirut’s future looks bleak.
“The people of Lebanon in the affected area, they’re over the ‘shock’ phase. Most of them are still in the ‘mad’ phase, especially since the two other incidences since then have amplified that problem,” Atema says.
“They’re mad at an inept government that would allow such a thing. Then, there’s another group that is very traumatized, and they’re very open to talking about life.”
On Friday, Lebanon’s army discovered large stores of explosive material at the Beirut port. The finding came days after a large fire set many blast survivors on edge. With so many left vulnerable by the August 4 blast, fear of a repeat disaster is tangible.
Picking up the pieces
Heart for Lebanon is partnering with 27 local churches and Christian schools to help people most affected by last month’s explosion. Every extension of physical help comes with Gospel hope.
“When we start giving out aid and helping these families, we always pray for them, and as we enter into a conversation, we’ll share the love of Christ. But, the long-term follow up will all be done through the local church,” Atema explains.
“Our desire at heart for Lebanon is to come alongside the local church and complete it, rather than compete with it.”
“In the very beginning, [we decided] on a two-prong approach,” Atema says. First, “we decided to partner with seven Christian schools that we have a relationship within the affected area and provide 200 scholarships for their students to return to school,” he continues.
“There’s no way that families affected by the explosion will be able to afford Christian education. So, the best way to help Christian schools is to allow the kids to come [and enroll].”
Together with local churches, Heart for Lebanon provides monthly food supplements and non-food essentials to 780 families. Non-food essentials include things like face masks, cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items.
As believers provide help for today and hope for tomorrow, please surround their efforts in prayer. “Pray for the local church, that they will continue to have the passion for reaching their communities for Jesus,” Atema requests.
“As we minister to people, [pray] that we will continue to have safety [and] God will give us much wisdom and favor as we go about sharing the love of Jesus Christ, not only in a tangible way but in a long-term evangelical way as well.”
Header image shows remnants of the 100-year-old Armenian Brethren Church in Naher, Ashrafieh area. Heart for Lebanon helped church members minister to the surrounding community with Family Care packages, as well as words of encouragement and hope. (Photo, caption courtesy Heart for Lebanon)