EBF Delegation Visits Lebanese Officials
EBF Delegation Visits Lebanese Officials
While the Middle East region is going through disorienting times, Lebanon is experiencing new steps forward including a reconciliation between two major Christian parties, a new president after two and a half years of presidential vacuum and a new electoral law.
An encouraging sense of hope – that is neither oblivious of nor underestimating the challenges ahead – was clearly evident in the meetings that a delegation from the European Baptist Federation, led by its General Secretary, the Revd Anthony Peck, and the Middle East Representative on the Federation’s Executive Committee, Dr. Nabil Costa, had with Lebanese officials last week.
The delegation visited the Lebanese Prime Minister Mr. Saad Al-Hariri who commended them for coming to Lebanon at a time when the global media continues to disseminate a message of fear, portraying a negative and rather discouraging image of Lebanon. He noted that the atrocities carried out in the name of religion by ISIL and others are in no way representative of Islam, for no religion can condone such acts. Prime Minister Hariri shared with his visitors about the refugee crisis that Lebanon is wrestling with today, and the dire need for additional multi-sectoral support to address the needs, specifically education to safeguard the children from a dark future.
The Revd Anthony Peck praised the work of the Prime Minister in seeking to make Lebanon a safe place for all its faith communities. He also congratulated the Prime Minister on the recent electoral law that strengthen democracy in Lebanon. Revd Peck commented that one of the core values for Baptists has been to uphold religious freedom for all faiths, and not only for themselves. In the Middle East as a whole this can be very challenging but in Lebanon, Evangelicals and other religious minorities have freedom of worship, witness, and develop their church life and social ministries. Adding that, “the emphasis on religious freedom for all has also led us to support societies like Lebanon that strive for inclusion of all, including the disadvantaged. He drew attention to LSESD’s SKILD Centre, seeking to enhance and support Special Education in Lebanon”.
PM Hariri asserted the policy of openness and acceptance of others in Lebanon regardless of race and religion. “It is our aim’, he said, “to promote the culture of peace despite all the on-going challenges. Democracy and freedom are in the heart of our core values”.
PM Hariri asked the delegation to help in creating more awareness in their communities and nations about the uniqueness of Lebanon in the Middle East, especially in the current circumstances. Particularly advocating the need for increased humanitarian support for the refugee programs.
The delegation then met with MP Mr. Ibrahim Kanaan, Secretary General of the "Reform and Change" Parliamentary bloc. MP Kenaan shared that it is in the best interests of Lebanon to have peace in our neighbouring country, Syria, noting the challenging impact of a considerable number of refugees in-country. Kenaan also highlighted the importance of the new “made in Lebanon” era that began with the election of President Michel Aoun, and the new electoral law. He emphasized the importance of reform in the current and coming phase and the need to involve the relevant civil society organizations in addressing the needed reforms.
The third visit was with the Minister of Education and Higher Education Mr. Marwan Hamade who also invited the EBF representatives to advocate within their own communities and countries for educational support for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. Minister Hamade also emphasized the need to invest more in the area of education for special needs, thanking all those who contributed towards SKILD Centre’s work in Lebanese public schools providing special needs support to children – both Lebanese and refugees - at social, emotional and academic risk.
It is to be noted that the EBF delegation is visiting Lebanon to participate in the Middle East Consultation organised by the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary’s Institute of Middle East Studies under the theme “The Church in Disorienting Times: Leading Prophetically Through Adversity”.
1. Prime Minister's office
2. A selfie taken by Prime Minister Hariri
3. 4. Selfies taken by Nabil Costa, LSESD