Lebanon (MNN) — In October of 2019, Lebanon plunged into months of revolution and non-stop protests. For 100 days, the country existed in a state of upheaval as locals protested corrupt officials.
Then, just as the political chaos seemed to be dying down, COVID-19 reached Lebanon, and locals moved into 100 days of lockdown. 100 days of political upheaval followed by 100 days of quarantine left Lebanon’s economy utterly devastated. Poverty runs rampant among Lebanese families, especially middle class households. It’s gotten so bad that the local social media trend involves taking pictures of empty home refrigerators.
Even during Lebanon’s civil war, things never got this bad, says Pierre Houssney of Horizons International. He calls it “a withering of our economy.”
Most families already rely on multiple sources of income thanks to the continuously growing cost of income. Houssney reports that although Lebanon’s cost of living matches that of most developed countries, salaries are as low as $800 per month.
“When your rent is $600 per month, it’s very difficult to get by on even two salaries because of the cost of food,” Houssney says.
And when Lebanese locals receive their utility bills, they see the direct effects of their current leadership.
“The infrastructure of Lebanon’s roads, information technology, water system, electricity,and all of that has just been on a shoestring budget. Most of the money, the lion’s share of the tax money, has been stolen by the politicians. What’s left over is a very depleted infrastructure.”
There’s no such thing as stimulus packages in Lebanon. There’s no such thing as international loans; no international organization trusts Lebanon’s credibility. There’s no such thing as government aid. And so millions of locals, refugees, and residents are left to fend for themselves.
So why is Horizons International still there? Because in the middle of crisis, “we still have the ability to speak the Gospel in the area that we are,” Houssney says.
“In a way it’s brought more meaning to the little that we’re able to do, because even smaller acts of kindness, smaller acts of giving out aid, even a bag of bread or a small food portion, are meaning so much more to people.”
People are desperate, and Houssney says he doesn’t want to celebrate in their sorrow. “At the same time, we must be encouraged to do whatever we can, knowing that the Lord is using whatever we’re able to do.”
“This is really a strategic time for the body of Christ to stand up and show that it’s not about giving from our economic surplus – it’s about giving from hearts of love to our fellow fellow humans.”
Header photo courtesy of Luke Bradley via WallpaperFlare