Lebanese partnerships spread hope and aid to Syrian refugees

Spiritual revival is taking place in the midst of the Syrian crisis.

With the escalating disputes in Syria, many are fleeing to neighboring countries to escape the crossfire. Media reports depict the great suffering and desperation, yet "God is doing great things in the midst of a great crisis," said Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Baptist Society. "The church is in revival in Syria. We are able to reach people we never dreamt of before."

Costa acknowledges that the situation is extremely dangerous, but he has also seen God working in mighty ways and His name being glorified.

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"God is at work. He is for all nations and a lot of good news is coming from the Middle East," he said.

Through strategic partnerships with the Texas Baptists Partnership Missions Ministry and the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, funds have been allocated to the area to provide aid to Syrian refugees fleeing their homes and finding help in Lebanon. Texas Baptists' Disaster Recovery also has sent funds to help refugees in Turkey.

In the last several weeks, as the situation has heightened in Syria, many people are crossing, some even running across, the Lebanese border with few or no possessions to their name. At one checkpoint, between 7,000-8,000 refugees are crossing each day to escape the dangerous threats. Tears filled Costa's eyes as he described the desperation in the faces of the refugees, seeking help and hope.

"You cannot help but cry when you see them," he said. "When you see the kids and how they are doing, when you see how they are living. I don't want to make it sound like a tragedy, but it is a tragedy. This is the reality."

Thanks to partnerships with Texas Baptists and other agencies, the Baptist society is able to provide essential aid to the hundreds they have encountered daily through blankets, food, shelter and medicine. They also are able to share the hope of Christ with the refugees.

"Fortunately or unfortunately, it seems persecution is the only way for the church to shine," Costa shared. "It is the only way for us to appreciate our salvation and share it with others. Right now, through persecution in Syria, there are many people coming to know Him."

Costa noted that Christians in Lebanon are receiving great blessings through helping their neighbors. "We are growing in His grace," he said. "All the generosity from our Lord is passing through us. After we receive it in us, we are passing it on to others."

In recent months, Texas Baptists have expanded involvement and investment in Lebanon, according to Steve Seaberry, director of Texas Partnerships. Through the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, Lebanese and Syrian families are receiving calves to help feed and provide for their households. Additionally, funds will soon be used to provide education to Syrian children who are currently living in refugee camps. Providing education to those who have lost so much will have a long-lasting impact.

These limited partnerships are meeting both the physical and spiritual needs of many in the Middle East. While the future may seem uncertain to many, Costa and those he works with are able to share an eternal hope with each person they encounter.

"My prayer for Syrian refugees is not to lose hope," Costa shared. "My prayer is to remember and know that God is in control, even if we pass through difficult times. We have to know and believe that God is changing all these difficult situations into opportunities where we can know him. To do this, we need faith. In general, our faith is weak. Pray for us and for those refugees, for God to strengthen our faith in him through difficult times."

To financially support these efforts in Lebanon, visit www.texasbaptists.org/give. By giving through the worldwide portion of the Texas Baptist Cooperative Program, individuals and churches can support the work of the Partnerships Missions ministry. By giving to the hunger offering, Texas Baptists can support the work through that avenue.

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