Around 6 pm on 4th August, a 2,750 tonne stockpile of highly explosive chemicals was detonated in the port area of Beirut. As a result of the devastating explosion, more than 150 people were killed, and some 5,000 injured, with 300,000 residents made homeless as shock waves hit buildings up to 10 km away.
Almost immediately PCI were in contact with their partners located in Beirut. The National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), a longstanding partner church, is responding through their development wing, the Compassion Protestant Society, seeking to provide emergency food aid and shelter for the homeless, regardless of a person’s faith background.
NESSL’s General Secretary, Rev Joseph Kassab writes, “We cling to the One who holds the whole world in his hand…. may the Almighty bring peace to our wounded humanity and city…It is a time where the Church has to step into the pain and suffering of innocent people”.
Dr George Sabra, President of the Near East School of Theology (NEST), writes, “We thank God that no one was injured at NEST …the damage to the building is extensive. All eight floors above ground and two basements were hit. Glass windows, glass doors, glass panels inside the building, as well as many internal wooden doors were shattered. Never has NEST been hit so badly…The devastation in the rest of Beirut is vast….the Beirut Port which was almost totally annihilated by the explosion is the storage place for all the necessary imports that Lebanon needs at this difficult time in its severe economic and pandemic crisis: wheat, medications, medical equipment, food, … all of these have been severely damaged, if not totally destroyed…”
The Television production studios of SAT7, Christian broadcasters in the Middle East and North Africa and a longstanding partner of PCI, was also damaged. Maroun Bou Rached, Executive Director of SAT 7 in Lebanon said, “We really need a lot of prayer for Lebanon to be able to get up and move forward. We are focusing now on what we can produce to help and encourage people and to look to God. We need a miracle to continue in this small country. Please pray for calm for everyone in Lebanon.”
These and others with whom PCI have related in Lebanon over many years, are not only expressing their shock and great need but also the feeling of being overwhelmed by expressions of support. Alia Abboud, Chief Development Officer of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) said, “Hope is a very rare commodity in my country today…yet we are deeply touched by the genuine concern and solidarity expressed from dear friends and partners from various parts of the world”. With their lives brutally disrupted and hope hanging by a thread, may I ask you, despite all the challenges we face here on the island of Ireland, to encourage your congregation to see that our prayerful, practical support for the people of Lebanon is paramount in the coming days.
While much thought is being given to launching a special appeal towards the end of this year aimed at tackling the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s poorest communities, PCI’s Mission Department is ready to channel any donations you may wish to make at this time to the emergency initiatives being undertaken by our partners in Lebanon.
Donations (with the option of gift aid) can be designated to any of the above-named partners by sending a cheque made out to “Arklow Presbyterian Church” or cash then placing it in an envelope marked “The Lebanon Appeal” and either putting it in the collection box on Sunday or posting (the cheque only) to our Treasurer (Aleida) or the church address. Once all monies have been collected our Treasurer will forward the final amount to the The Presbyterian Church in Ireland ’s Mission Department.
Alternatively you can donate by electronic transfer. Details of how to give by electronic transfer or online can be found on PCI’s website -www.presbyterianireland.org/donate.
PCI’s development partners, Christian Aid Ireland and Tearfund, are also engaged in the emergency response and details of their initiatives can be found on their websites: www.christianaid.ie and www.tearfund.org.
Thank you for taking time to stand with PCI’s partners and the people of Lebanon.
Rev Michael Anderson on behalf of our Moderator Rev David Bruce.
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