After returning from a field visit to Tearfund’s partners in Lebanon working with Syrian refugees, I am surprised by the impact it has had on me. I thought I might have been overwhelmed by the enormity of the needs, the suffering of the refugees and the poverty of the refugee settlements. After all, there are over 2 million refugees who have flooded into Lebanon - a country of only 4 million people. In Syria, there are over 11 million people displaced by the crisis and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. That is a set of very sobering statistics.

But in fact, the opposite was true. I’ve returned to New Zealand full of hope and inspiration. The local church in Lebanon is responding to this crisis with costly, sacrificial love. They have embodied Jesus' words in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Between 1976 and 2005, Syria invaded Lebanon and occupied the territory. That is very recent history. The occupation and war were devastating for Lebanese people and many lost family members, homes and livelihoods. Only 6 years later, Syrians started pouring into Lebanon, but this time as scared, desperate refugees. Faced with the choice of helping or turning away, the Church in Lebanon has chosen to offer unconditional love and support, despite how it has triggered reminders of their own pain and loss.

This was incredible to witness. I was inspired to see the Church living this out and to see the way God is working through the way they are putting their faith into action. Their unity across denominational lines and total dedication to the Syrian refugees has resulted in thousands of families receiving monthly food packages, extra resources to survive the cold of winter, schooling for their children, child friendly spaces for pre-schoolers, medical and dental care, hygiene packs and initial settlement support.

While they have been careful to detach their aid efforts from the church in order of amplify a message of unconditional love, the refugees are so moved by their care that they are hungry to find out about the God that is motivating this work. The stories of God’s hand at work and the power of the local church to impact the world is shining so clearly out of this dark situation.

If your church would like to hear these stories in more detail, we would love to share them with you. Send me an email and I'll be in touch! We also hope to have another field trip happening in 2019, so please register your interest with us if you would like to see the work first hand.

New Zealand pastors visiting a vocational training centre for Syrian refugees in Lebanon with Tearfund NZKerrie (holding a baby on the right) and a group of New Zealand pastors visiting a Vocational Training Centre run by Tearfund's Lebanese church partner. Kerrie is our National Church Engagement Manager.


Related posts

A Biblical Lens on Mozambique

A Biblical Lens on Mozambique

Friday, 17 May 2019 — Sean du Toit

When disasters like the Mozambique cyclones strike, we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and disheartened by the scale of human suffering. Our Restore cause is based on the biblical belief that we are called to respond with compassion to those in need and that we have a duty to seek 'shalom' in this world. Often, this can seem like a discouraging and overwhelming mission – but we believe that we are called to work towards the redemption of this world here and now. We also believe that ultimately, we will see redemption completed through Jesus.

Read more

Christchurch Response

Christchurch Response

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 — Ian McInnes

Friday, March 15, will be marked as one of New Zealand’s darkest days, in the wake of the heartless terrorist act which killed 50 people and left many others injured.

As an organisation, Tearfund works alongside people of all ethnicities and religions affected by tragedy and violent conflict overseas. We are devastated that this act of premeditated evil happened on our own soil, and strongly reject any ideology which advocates or condones such violence.

We stand in solidarity with our Muslim community and share in their pain.

You can help support Tearfund’s work with refugee families and churches in Christchurch affected by the tragedy.

Read more

How do you grasp hope in the midst of a disaster?

How do you grasp hope in the midst of a disaster?

Thursday, 13 December 2018 — Sophie Rice

Over the few years I’ve worked at Tearfund, I’ve seen us respond to numerous disasters. And over time, I’ve found a weight of hopelessness can grow in you over the destruction that injustice and poverty inflict on people. But hearing Kevin Riddell, one of our senior Programmes Specialists, talk about disaster response as the first step on a journey from disaster to community development; from hopelessness to hope, from devastated communities to ones that are flourishing, helped to give me hope.

Read more

The Lebanese Church shining a light in the darkness

The Lebanese Church shining a light in the darkness

Wednesday, 28 November 2018 — Anastasia Ramenska

The church in action is truly an inspirational thing. When communities of Christians unite over a common cause and focus their energy and care and prayers in an outward direction, God moves in power - this is the situation in Lebanon as the local church responds to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Read more

The Man I

The Man I'll Never Forget

Friday, 16 November 2018 — Anastasia Ramenska

You know how you can meet some people and they can have such a profound impact on you that you just know you’ll never forget them? I had one of those experiences when I was in Lebanon recently with a man called Bassam. Pastor Bassam's heart breaks for his former enemies, Syrian refugees. This is his story.

 

Read more

The Man I

The Man I'll Never Forget

Friday, 16 November 2018 — Helen Manson

You know how you can meet some people and they can have such a profound impact on you that you just know you’ll never forget them? I had one of those experiences when I was in Lebanon recently with a man called Bassam. Pastor Bassam's heart breaks for his former enemies, Syrian refugees. This is his story.

 

Read more

Show more