By: Katie Huish
The Welcome Network had the amazing opportunity to visit the Beqaa Valley for a few days during our time in Beirut, Lebanon. The Beqaa Valley is between two hills. Over one hill, is Syria - the border just a ten minute drive from the camps we were visiting. Over the other, is Beirut - about an hour from the camp. This experience was surreal, we spent many days in the camp visiting families who welcomed us in with open arms, offering us tea and other beverages as if we were the ones fleeing hardship and loss. Then we explored Beirut on the weekend before we left, seeing Rolex and MAC stores in high end shopping areas. Two hills - that is all that is separating the upper class from the Syrian Civil War. For us, the war in Syria often feels like a concept rather than a reality. Because for us, it is seemingly a world away. But seeing so many individuals turn their shoulder to it while staying in their comfort zones within the borders of Lebanon was astonishing. As an individual living in America, I meet people day in and day out who choose that these people are not our problem and people who allow fear to prevent them from loving and welcoming the stranger. Oftentimes, I meet other Christians who say that they stand for the stranger but do understand the other perspective. I want to affirm that there are no conditions in showing compassion. In fact, the Bible reaffirms that we need to love when it isn't easy. That we must welcome the stranger for we were strangers in Egypt. I don't think that this is any different, and it certainly is not an exception to the rule. After this trip, my prayers are that I don't ever forget this experience - the stories of loss, of hardship, uncertainty, devastation, heartbreak. These individuals just want their basic needs to be cared for and to have a home. We were asked to pray for a family who's 12 year old daughter had eaten nothing but potatoes for months on end as they had no other resources, and another family who consumes nothing besides bread as it's all they have - that they would find the blessing of meals for their family. We were asked to pray for a family who watched their neighbors homes were taken by ISIS and they were then killed - that they may find a home, safe and secure to raise their children in without worry. While shadowing a women's bible study IN the predominantly Muslim refugee camp, in a prayer request circle, a woman prayed for healing as she had lost the twin of her ill baby in her arms and healing for the one she still had who was getting over an illness. We also heard prayers that missing family members would be found. We heard prayers that the Lord would comfort them through the loss and grief that so many of them were experiencing.
These requests would be the same as ours if we were standing under those same tents in those conditions... because they are human. They are like us. They are children of God, who loves them just as much as he loves us and wants them to be welcomed and cared for as they are the orphan, the widow, the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable.
As we jump back into our ministry here in NWI, I ask that you pray for these individuals and families. Above, I listed some of the prayer requests which all came from them asking us to pray for them. I also would ask that you pray for the safety of these victims of war and persecution. Pray that they may find a peaceful life one day. That the children will be educated and that the parents are given the opportunity to work once again.
Do you have a heart for the vulnerable? Looking for ways to welcome the stranger?
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