Notes from Lebanon 1 week after (August 2020)

An update from Colin & Audrey Gibson, our CMS Partners in the Lebanon following the explosion in Beirut that has devastated so many lives.

It is now a week since the terrible explosion in Beirut and we are grateful for the many messages of concern and support that we have received. Thank you. Of course, there is still much to be done and people are still deeply affected. The faces of many of our friends and colleagues are etched with deep sadness and despondency but lurking beneath is also a real anger and frustration.

Stephanie, a young work colleague, injured and bleeding from facial injuries received as she was driving near the blast, had to make her way through the death and carnage on the streets before some kind soul gave her a lift to a hospital. Thankfully, she is at home now recovering mentally and physically, though her car is a write off.

Zeina, decided to visit her parents house three days after the blast and as she drove through the streets of Beirut she started crying when she saw the true extent of the devastation wrought by the explosion. Reaching her parents home, she virtually collapsed with emotion.
‘Our flat is unhabitable’ said an older couple from our church. Thankfully, they escaped almost unharmed with the husband only needing a small operation on his eye. Unfortunately, people have gone in and stolen their belongings. ‘We don’t want to return’ they said and are now staying with relatives.

Habib, a fellow Rotarian of Colin’s is currently in ITU in a coma battling for his life after sustaining head injuries.

Meanwhile the clean up goes on. Outside of the port area, nearly all the work is being done by volunteers with almost no official coordination. Churches, other faith groups and multiple NGOs are doing what they can – from sweeping up glass to handing out food. On Saturday Colin and I went down to help too. It was the first time we had seen things first hand and it was truly appalling. As well as practical support some of the team offered to pray with people and were giving out audio- Bibles to those who wanted them.

Fortunately, it is summer so people can still live in their homes if not too severely damaged – even without windows or roofs. Though, incredibly, it did rain briefly on Sunday night – in August! What is really needed now is for professional help to start the re-construction of the many damaged properties and remove damaged cars and debris from the streets.

On Tuesday (11th), the government resigned under pressure from 3 days of street protests. This is not really a cause for celebration as, without major changes to the whole political process, it is likely any new government will suffer the same problems as the current one. Meanwhile, we will see many weeks of wrangling while they try to form a replacement, with little ability to take important and much needed decisions.

Meanwhile the number of cases of Covid19 more than doubled in the last week and the death toll continues to climb.

Please continue to pray for:

  • those who have lost their homes and loved ones so that they may find comfort and healing.
  • the doctors, nurses and paramedics who are caring for the injured.
  • people who are in places of responsibility as they manage the catastrophic human and economic consequences.
  • the Church as it seeks to comfort and serve the distressed and broken hearted.
  • the People of God as they seek the Lord and humbly cry out to Him for mercy.

We have been asked by a few people how they can give financially to help in this disaster. If there is a multi-agency appeal in the UK then that would be a good way of giving. Alternatively, you can donate to LSESD (the organisation we work with) which is helping those in need, working through partner churches in Beirut: https://www.give.net/helpbeirut

Colin & Audrey Gibson, Lebanon.  August 2020