Lebanon (MNN) — It’s no secret that the crisis in Syria isn’t getting better. City after city continues to get destroyed by the fighting. And for many refugees who have fled to Lebanon, there’s no hope to return home. There’s nothing left for them in Syria.
War in Syria
“Unfortunately as we continue watching how the war in Syria’s progressing, we’re realizing that the situation is not getting any better,” Heart for Lebanon’s Executive Director and Founder Camille Melki says. “Maybe conflict there is shifting from one town to another, from one region to the next, but the refugees who are living here don’t feel secure and safe to go back. And what are they going to go back to? [All] these large cities are totally destroyed; they’re brought down to ashes.”
In the Bekka Valley, just 20 kilometers from Syria, Heart for Lebanon’s consistency helps build trust with refugees in camps. This valley is usually the first place where Syrians come when fleeing their country. The valley is home to roughly 400,000 locals, but those locals are overwhelmed with more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. And most of these refugees have been living in Lebanon for more than six years now.
Heart For Lebanon
Regardless of how long the refugees stay in Lebanon, Heart for Lebanon is there trying to help them. “In every attempt we do, in our food and basic hygiene supply and distributions, we’re trying to give some sort of assurance that we are here with them for the long haul,” Melki shares.
Heart for Lebanon is working with the long-term solutions in mind. This means helping provide refugees with a safety net and food security. The organization doesn’t want to build a dependency, but a trusting relationship. That’s why what Heart for Lebanon provides serves as a supplement to what the refugees have.
One of the ways Heart for Lebanon is doing this is through its new chicken farm. At the farm, Heart for Lebanon is teaching refugees how to take care of chickens, the ways that a chicken can be a source of protein through eggs, and how they can eat the chicken once it’s no longer producing eggs.
And as Heart for Lebanon continues to work with refugees and prove to them that the organization is there for the long-haul, they begin to build trusted relationships. But part of the hesitancy on the refugees’ part to trust the Lebanese Christians is the fact that Lebanon was occupied by the Syrian regime for 30 years and the Syrian government meddled in Lebanese politics during its civil war.
Refugees See Christ
Many of the Lebanese have their own painful stories of what they suffered at the hands of Syria. And this piece of history has many refugees asking, ‘Why do you care?’ Heart for Lebanon’s answer: because of Christ. However, the questions don’t stop there.
“When that relationship of trust is built, then the refugees are asking now deeper questions,” Melki says. “You know, you say you are Christians, what does that mean? We see something different on your faces. We see a smile on your faces. We see you people of hope and we are living in despair.”
These questions have opened the doors to share why these Lebanese Christians have forgiven the Syrians and why they have hope and peace—a peace that doesn’t come from a stable economic or political situation, but from the peace the surpasses all understanding that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.
And furthermore, while many of the refugees may not believe in Christ when they come to the camp, they watch the Christians at Heart for Lebanon and learn that they are praying people.
“It’s amazing, just the minute I walked in here for the distribution today, one lady came in, her son has fallen and has been injured for more than a month. [He] has been hospitalized for a long, long time. She said, ‘Make sure before your team leaves you stop by my tent and pray for us. Pray especially for my son,’” Melki says.
“Even if they don’t believe in Christ as their personal savior, they believe that the power of Christ is in us, the work of the Holy Spirit. They call and ask for it.”
Prayers for the Hurting
And what better way to show people Christ’s love and power than by living it out and seeing God work? But as Melki previously said, these opportunities to share Christ and prayer for these refugees begins with the basic food and hygiene package distribution. And despite the fact that Heart for Lebanon is also hearing heartbreaking stories of pain, the organization is still finding joy in seeing Christ enter the lives of these Syrian refugees.
“Young and old, men and women are all asking the questions, searching for truth. And there’s no truth but in Jesus Christ. We have this golden opportunity,” Melki explains. “No, we don’t celebrate their hardship. No, we don’t celebrate what’s going on in Syria and Iraq. But, we celebrate the Esther moment that we have in the Middle East.”
If you had told Melki ten years ago there would be an opportunity to share Christ with Muslims who are searching for God, he would have told you it wasn’t going to happen. But that is the reality today, and Heart for Lebanon gets to play a role in leading these people to Christ. Please, pray for Heart for Lebanon’s ministry and pray for Christ’s work in these refugees’ hearts. Pray also for Christians everywhere to take this opportunity to share Christ with refugees, either in Lebanon or abroad. Because if we don’t act, who will?