Out of Dry Bones He Makes an Army

Two Years Since the Beirut Blast

August 2022 – excerpt from Newsletter
Arab Baptist Theological Seminary – ABTS

It has been two years since the August 4 Beirut port blast. “I still remember it like it was yesterday” shared Loulwa El Maalouf, Director of Partnerships at ABTS. “I was closing my office door and was just about to head to the car when I heard the loud explosion and felt a strong gust of wind hit the ABTS building [less than 8km/5mi from the blast site]. A couple of other staff members were still on-site, and we came together quickly to try and make sense of what was happening. I remember going home that day how intense the panic was on the streets.” In the wake of the blast, the Lord moved through many of our friends and partners to help those impacted by the blast. Through the faithful stewardship and holistic ministry of several local churches, the Lord allowed us to stand beside over one thousand impacted individuals as they began to get back on their feet in addition to those we hosted and served on campus.

Today, even though the situation remains difficult because of the economic crisis and the different challenges Lebanon is going through, we continue to see the life changing hand of God at work in the lives of those we were able to support. We have seen the focus of many of them shift from their circumstances towards Christ, His goodness, and His promises for their lives. Below are some stories of change that our church partners have shared with us. These are the result of multiple churches and Christian organizations, including ABTS and our friends and partners, coming together for one purpose. We pray that you are encouraged by them as we are.

Joe from a church in Beirut:

A lot of the homes have been fixed, but the crisis continues, and the situation is dire. Yet we are always thankful because we know that we are not alone, that our God is sovereign, and that His mercies endure forever. I thank the Lord for allowing us to support 75 families that were impacted by the explosion. But what we praise God the most for is the relationships that He helped us develop with these families. People have a deep thirst to know more about God. We learned how great it is to get to know people and to love them like Jesus did. Our visitation team continues to follow up with these families, checking in on them, sharing the gospel with them, and answering any questions they might have about God. Several now come to church on a regular basis. Please continue to pray for these families as they still face many challenges. Pray that the Lord continues to touch their hearts and give them peace.

Elie from a church serving those impacted around Beirut:

My team and I continue to visit at least six families a week and follow up with most of the people we were able to help. One of these families has opened their home to host a Bible study. They deeply enjoy hearing about Christ. The father accepted Christ as his Savior a while back, and I pray that the rest of the family follows soon. Another person we met is a caretaker for two elderly men. She has grown tremendously with the Lord and has shared her faith with so many around her. There are at least 10 new people at church who have come because of her outreach! She will hopefully be baptized soon. The mother of a family we support has also come to accept Christ as her Lord and savior. She has a heart to learn more about Christ and is studying the Bible. She struggles with her family, mainly because her husband cannot contend with the idea of a loving God amidst all the suffering his family has been through. Still, her faith is strong and is growing every day. I pray that her family comes to know His love through the change they see in her.

Roula from a church in the Achrafieh district in Beirut:

I am always amazed when I reflect on how the Lord worked in the aftermath of the Beirut blast. Through all that has happened over the past two years, we have seen His hand at work in the lives of those we were able to reach. We helped several families start self-sustaining businesses. We helped one person open a produce store, and he used his business to help the needy in his neighborhood. The largest impact we were able to see was with three widows who are the sole supporters of their families. These widows are in touch with us daily. We share lessons from the Bible with them and visit them, and they share prayer requests and pray with us. They always attend our church’s online service. When we first met them, one of the ladies was at her breaking point. But the more we spent time with her in prayer, the more she found hope in Christ. Today, she finds a reason to live for in the person of Jesus! I praise Him for His kindness and providence.

Alondra from another church in Achrafieh:

Our church has a vision to serve His Kingdom by sharing the gospel with as many people as possible. When the blast happened, we felt the need to support people where we could. Our team was able to support over 700 families through relief ministry, medical support, and a back-to-school project. We have seen the Lord work wonders among these families. One of them took refuge in Lebanon after the Syrian civil war. This family faced a lot of difficulties in Lebanon, especially after the Beirut blast. They then lost the father in 2021. In her testimony prior to her baptism, the mother shared, “when I lost my husband, I did not lose hope because I had the Lord and His Church at my side. My church became a second family to me and helped me see how there is always hope in Him. This is why my children and I decided to be baptized this year.” Several other people who we were able to support through the medical center also shared that they felt they finally found hope in the Lord. One of these people was a 40-year-old man who was diagnosed with leukemia and given 6 months to live. He had no friends or family to rely on when he first came to the center, so, we lifted him up in prayer. This man is now on his way to becoming fully cancer free! The Lord is marvelous, and we thank Him for his mercies.

Claudette from another church serving impacted families around Beirut:

It is amazing how much the Lord has worked in the lives of many impacted by the blast. The people we have been helping still have many needs, but their love for Christ has grown immensely and their relationship with Him has changed how they see their lives. One of these people is a woman who lost her husband in the blast. She is now the sole provider for her two children. The more we spent time with her, the more she wanted to know about Christ. I think being able to support her and her family showed her a glimpse of Christ in our lives, which made her curiosity grow. She is a very kind person, and over time, she fell in love with Christ! Another person we were able to help is a man whose home was completely destroyed in the blast, so we helped him as much as we could, and this made a difference in his life. The Lord worked in him, and he is now committed to attending every church service we hold. I pray that all the people we reached come to know Him more intimately as their Lord and savior and grow deeper in their faith.

We thank the Lord for how benevolent, merciful, and loving He is. Where sin birthed death and pain, His love and mercy reached out to many with hope of an abundant life. He continues to teach us, day in and day out, how deep His love is for us, and how complete His wisdom is. Despite all the challenges, His light continues to change the hearts and lives of many. We pray for all those impacted by the economic crisis and the blast. We pray that they come to know His love and mercy. We pray that the Body of Christ takes up its prophetic role as the light and the salt in times of darkness.

News from Beirut, Lebanon

Where do I start? Words fail me

It is so hard to describe the devastation and overwhelming pain and despair that the people of Beirut have experienced from last week’s unbelievable explosion. And our partner schools are part of that. The explosion and subsequent widespread damage and pain in Lebanon is staggering and will be felt by hundreds of thousands for a long time to come.

Trivina is the daughter of Dr Riad Kassis, our Langham Scholars Program Director in Lebanon. Shortly after the explosion, she sent us a plea for prayer and asked us to share her message. What amazed me was her response when challenged about where God was in the midst of all this carnage, a bit like how the apostles felt when the boat was sinking and they cried out: “Teacher, do you not care if we drown?” 

Trivina said: “I believe the Lord was there last night… I saw Him in every little detail. I saw Him in the workers. I saw Him at the hospital. I saw Him in the friends who immediately came to our aid.” Trivina was in Beirut just a couple of hours prior to the explosion, serving at a hospital. It was partly destroyed and the area around her apartment was hit very badly, but during that, she could still see God.

Riad also sent me an update shortly after the explosion and asked that I share it with all our LeaDev-Langham supporters.

“This is a huge tragic event in the midst of our economic, political and COVID-19 crises. Several of our friends have been injured. The air over Beqaa is polluted due to the explosion. All Beirut hospitals are full. Wounded are transferred to hospitals outside Beirut.”

He finished with:

“Please pray for the 4000+ wounded and 150+ dead so far.”

Riad gave a summary of what has happened, which is overwhelming and hard to absorb. The damage goes far beyond the dead, missing and injured:

  • Wheat stocks for six months were completely destroyed
  • Dozens of churches and mosques were badly hit
  • Medicine warehouses in a key area of the city were heavily affected
  • Beirut Port has been almost wiped out and will remain closed for several months, adding great difficulty to importing anything which will result in severe restrictions on availability and cost of products in the markets
  • The state electricity company HQ was almost destroyed
  • Thousands of buildings and cars were severely damaged
  • Local hospitals sustained heavy damage and had to stop helping the sick and injured

Riad said that the health system will almost certainly collapse because it cannot absorb the wounded, that there has been lots of damage to personal property particularly shops, apartments and cars, and the financial losses will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

There will be many calls for help but one of the very practical things our partner school is doing is providing emergency accommodation at the school. Already there are dozens of homeless families that have moved in and need food and clothing. We have been asked for urgent help so that necessities can be provided, including food, clothing, and immediate personal health items.

Our friends and partners are responding in Lebanon, but they need you.

Will you help?

Could you find a special donation today of $25, $50, $100 or more that we can send to Riad immediately?

Give/Donate today

Can I also please ask you to pray with us?

  • Please pray for those who have lost their homes and loved ones, that they may find comfort
  • and healing.
  • Please pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for the injured.
  • Please pray for the Church as it seeks to comfort and serve the distressed and broken-hearted.
  • Please pray for the People of God as they seek the Lord and humbly cry out to Him for mercy.

Just as Trivina said:

“I believe the Lord was there last night…
I saw Him in every little detail”

I am confident that God will continue to be powerfully present in the days ahead. Please stand with us and support the efforts to bring hope and healing to the people of Beirut.

God bless and thank you.

Russell Thorp

Executive Director