Lebanon (MNN) — After ten years of war, many of the Syrian “enemy” are now living as refugees in the country they once occupied. Lebanon hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country, with at least 1.5 million Syrians inside its borders.
Georges Houssney with Horizons International says the crisis has been an opportunity for Lebanese to love their enemies as Jesus taught.
War and Family Tragedy
Lebanese know the pain of living as refugees and displaced persons. Between 1975-1990 when their country was in civil war, there were an estimated 900,000 displaced Lebanese. Many like Houssney’s family were forced to flee their homes due to Syrian fighters invading their homes and cities.
Houssney says that two years into the war, Syrian invaders reached his parent’s home:
“They knocked at the door and said you have 10 minutes to leave, because there’s an invasion of the area. But it turned out to be themselves invading the area. And my dad didn’t even wait 10 minutes, he just walked away with my stepmother, his wife, and walked into the field, running away from what they thought was going to be an invasion. It turned out the Syrians looted the whole house. They even dug out the marble from the floor, pulled the wires from the wall, just they took the house, the skeleton, and then they put a bomb in it.”
Houssney’s father remained displaced as a refugee for year after the bombing. Once he was able to get in touch with family and return, he rebuilt his home. Then it was bombed four more times during the fifteen-year war.
God’s Intervention and Compassion
In addition to the loss of his family home and witnessing the pain of his father, Houssney faced personal trials due to the war. However, the Lord was present:
“I was kidnapped and there was no way I would have been let go. But the Lord didn’t want me to die. So they let me go. They kept me for a few minutes in the camp. There were about 300 guns pointed at me – and he (the chief) was going to order one or more of them to shoot.
“I was already backed up to a wall and then he came to me and he said, ‘You know, you seem to be a nice guy, we’re gonna let you go.’ I said, ‘thank you.’”
Through all he experienced and saw, Houssney did not give into hate. He brought Bibles with him to checkpoints and distributed them to the Syrian soldiers. He wanted to live by Jesus’s teaching to love your enemy.
When he was threatened, he would remember the attitude of Jesus in Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
A Calling and a Ministry of Love
God began to prepare Houssney for his future ministry before the war even started. He was saved at age twelve and then felt God’s call to minister to Muslims at age fourteen. Even then he began to look for ways to share His faith.
Years later, as Syrians began to flood Lebanon a second time, due to civil war tearing their own country apart, the way to share Christ became clear.
Now Houssney’s organization, Horizons International has seen thousands of Syrians profess faith in Christ. And dozens of them are serving Christ in ministry roles. In fact, one third of Horizon’s International staff is made up of Syrian refugees who came to the Lord because of Houssney’s ministry.
“It’s love – like God loves us though we are sinners. We must love the sinners, whoever they may be. They may be my brother, my sister, my wife, my children, my relatives, my neighbors, or people I’ve never met before or people who have come to hurt me. That’s what Jesus taught us, to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. . . By loving them, we win them.”
Header image courtesy of Horizons International.