Flood of Refugees from Syria into North Lebanon continues
B e i r u t / R a h b e h – The flood of refugees from Syria into the north of Lebanon continues, according to Shadi Saad (Beirut), Secretary General of the Lebanese Baptist Union. The refugees are fleeing from continuing violence in their homeland. The demand for more freedom and democracy is being opposed with violence by those in power in Syria. Since April, several thousand Syrian families, primarily women and children, have fled into north Lebanon. More families continue to cross the border daily, most without any means, and so in need of aid.
Lebanese Baptists have felt challenged by their need, leading the Baptist church in Rahbeh in northern Lebanon to provide food and toiletry items to about 300 Syrian families in 15 villages in the region. The church has been supported in its activities by the Baptist Union and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD). Local residents have taken many refugees into their own homes and families.
Week after week church members from Rahbeh invest many hours putting together the aid packages and then spend two days in the villages distributing them to those in need, reports Saad, who is also pastor of the church in Rahbeh. At the same time, the Baptists also offer company and conversation. In addition, there are special programs for children who are currently not in school and so have nothing to do. For example, on Saturdays the youth group of the Rahbeh church plans to offer, among other things, a Christian puppet show in the villages.
Furthermore, as a result of the assistance, conversations about the Christian faith often come about with those receiving aid, who are mostly Muslim. As a result, one Muslim woman recently acknowledged that she now had a totally new view of Christianity. The Baptists also take advantage of these opportunities to pray with those they are helping, or, if desired, to give them a Bible.
The Lebanese Baptist Union includes about 1600 members in 32 congregations. According to estimates, 39 percent of the approximately 4 million inhabitants of Lebanon are Christians, 7 percent are Druze, the rest Muslim.