Today’s post is written by an aXcess worker serving in Beirut, Lebanon with The Alliance.
I am sitting in the shell of a building that once was a lighting store.
The six-floor building, with piles of broken glass from chandeliers and ornate lamps, represents a life’s work shattered by the August 4 explosion at the Beirut port.
As I stand there, Mr. Talej tells me about his journey as an electrical engineer, working through the civil war, saving enough to begin his own business, and opening his store. He speaks with pride as we walk from floor to floor, and he paints a picture of a once-profitable business.
He shares stories of the dignitaries who bought from his shop, showing me price tags of merchandise costing thousands of dollars, now broken pieces in a cardboard box.
“It took me 50 years to build this,” Talej says. “Fifty years and it was destroyed in five seconds. Can you imagine your life reduced to nothing in five seconds?”
Conversations like this are not uncommon in Beirut these days. Whether it is the destruction of a store or a home, the freezing of life savings due to the banking crisis, the loss of loved ones, it seems all of Lebanon is grappling with the undoing of their lives.
In this crisis, the church has two opportunities. The first is to provide comfort and aid in peoples’ suffering. CAMA Services has partnered with the national Alliance church in Lebanon, along with C&MA in Canada and Alliance World Fellowship, to aid families in need. We have already seen over 70 homes repaired and are diligently working to further serve the disenfranchised.
The second is to highlight the truth that this world and everything in it is fleeting, yet the gospel of Jesus Christ endures forever. We can communicate with a new depth of experience the truth of Jesus’ words,
“Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Another man shared with a local pastor how he lost his brother in the tragic explosion. Five seconds took away 50 years of friendship and family. Wrestling with the suddenness of loss, he contemplated the brevity of his own existence. This pastor shared with him the truth of eternity, the hope of the resurrection, and the need for Jesus Christ. He spoke of another time, coming soon, that will quickly change these present sufferings,
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Many in Beirut are lamenting the loss of 50 years, others are bemoaning the uncertainty of 50 years to come. All are grieving the five seconds that altered so much.
But the church moves forward, proclaiming Jesus, who redeems, restores, and will return.
Thank you for your generosity over these last weeks. Your gifts are being used to repair the Alliance church in Beirut and repair homes in the community. You can still give to these efforts.