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Bringing Hope to Despair

Written by Brian Martin on

Lebanon is a country of contrasts. Its stunning beauty is littered with trash. The strength of its cedars only shades the weakness within the government. Once a land where Jesus walked, Lebanon is now reaching a breaking point under the weight of corruption. Its people cry out like Job saying, “Who can see any hope for me?” (Job 17:15).

Many factors have taken a toll on Lebanese society creating extreme hardship. Years of corruption, for instance, have led to a sharp devaluation of the local currency. Now an estimated 80 percent of Lebanese live in poverty. Thirty-six percent are below the extreme poverty line. Ninety percent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon cannot cover their basic needs. These troubling statistics represent people—people not easily forgotten.

In June 2023, a team from College Park visited Lebanon and met with people like Abdullah. Abdullah had been a physician in Syria and told us of his thriving practice, majestic home, and grove of premium olive trees. War destroyed his home, killed many of his loved ones, and forced him to Lebanon.

Now Abdullah lives in extreme poverty and cannot even buy sunflower oil to make bread. Yet he had a smile on his face as he shared, “I thought my life was over because of the loss of our home and friends. God be praised by forcing us to Lebanon where we were able to hear about true life found in the good news of Jesus.”

Abdullah is one of many who are served by Heart for Lebanon, whose ministries such as home visits, food distribution, non-traditional schooling, and sports clubs have far-reaching impact. Heart for Lebanon has a singular vision: “Driven by the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ, Heart for Lebanon exists to see lives changed and communities transformed.” Their mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. And that discipleship is happening.

Amid crisis, God is moving. More people are turning to Christ in the Middle East today than at any other time in history, and Heart for Lebanon is a part of it. Lives are being transformed, communities are changing, and the church of Jesus Christ is growing among Muslim-background peoples.

These are broad statements of transformation that are the result of hours, days, weeks, and years of dedicated service to individuals like Abdullah and children like Yazan (eleven years old) who slipped us a handwritten note saying, “Thank you and don’t forget me” after our team’s visit to his home.

Heart for Lebanon’s strategy in reaching children like Yazan and his family is to identify those in despair, enter their homes, and become relationally engaged—sharing Jesus from the beginning. Teams on the ground build relationships by meeting physical needs while introducing spiritual truth. These relationships grow through regular visits, Bible studies, and practical help. The Bible is introduced, growth occurs, and lives are transformed, one person at a time. All of this is fueled by the desire to see spiritual formation that leads to missional leadership, where new believers will then continue the task of making disciples.

In 2018, College Park Church partnered with Heart for Lebanon to build the Hope Center in the Bekaa Valley in central Lebanon. This facility is now heavily used for the various ministries Heart for Lebanon carries out in the area.

By faith, May 2024 will mark the start of a five-year capital project to build a Hope Center in Sidon in south Lebanon. God has given Heart for Lebanon favor in Sidon as there has been a strong response to the gospel. A worship community, formed in 2015, now averages 450 worshipers each week. This planned center in Sidon will be designed to house the growing church, fund ministry programs, and provide needed humanitarian aid.

As the people of Lebanon cry out for hope, Heart for Lebanon is answering that cry—spreading the gospel to all who will listen and bringing hope to despair.

Learn more about Heart for Lebanon and our other strategic partners here.

Brian Martin

Brian is a member of College Park Church and serves as an elder, member of the missions council, Barnabas team leader and a small group co-leader. He is husband to a wonderful wife and father of three amazing ladies. On the weekends, he can often be found in a canoe or tending his beehives.

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