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.


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