Hikmat Kashouh is Senior pastor of Resurrection Church, Beirut. He is also a graduated Langham Scholar and Author. The following article is taken from Langham Publishing blog: www.langhamliterature.org/blog
What is the situation with us at the moment? A situation report is often used in military operations and uses non-emotional language with simple facts. Let me try and explain how our situation here in Lebanon has developed, in the format of a situation report.
- Civil protest movement is active, roadblocks and rallies, sometimes violent can occur.
- Government has resigned and been replaced by a temporary unelected government of ‘experts’.
- Economic situation is ‘on the verge of collapse’, banks cannot provide normal services, dollars are difficult to obtain.
- Government bonds have defaulted, Lebanese Lira to US Dollar exchange rate is falling.
- Coronavirus has closed schools, only essential services are now open.
- Coronavirus has closed the airport, seaports and all land borders, people should stay indoors.
I could go on, and social media and the television are in a frenzy doing exactly that, always looking for the latest ‘breaking’ headline. Ordinary people, the ones whose lives form the backbone of society, whose hard work and faithful service keeps civilisation running, are feeling that the situation can be summarised as ‘Outlook UNKNOWN’. This is the great uncertainty that seems to face the whole world today, and interestingly enough the church has been saying that ever since it began. In this world, despite all its bravado and sophistication, your future, your eventual worth and final destination, outside of Christ, is unknown.
A Certain Hope
In the church though, we have found a certain hope that whatever happens in the world Christ has overcome the world and today we have a unique and significant message. How can we communicate that here in Beirut?
Resurrection Church Beirut (RCB) looks for ways to meet the needs of the world around us, with a response that reflects God’s care for all people and His understanding of the deepest needs of those around us.
At RCB we have always recognised the responsibility to express God’s love in practical ways through providing relief to the most desperate in the community. Recently, we have found the need to expand our existing food voucher and food boxes program to reach more people as the economic crisis impacts lives, even for the middle-class Lebanese. In response to the virus threat we have also distributed hygiene boxes and disinfectants. We have kept our clinic open because at this time of health concerns there is more need for good advice than ever, this is despite the fact that some other clinics have closed. In addition, the medical team prepared a voice message with practical advice for distribution to the Syrian and Iraqi refugee communities we support.
At the beginning of the Corona crises, when the church buildings were still open, RCB took the lead in disinfecting our facilities and offered this service to other church buildings in the city at no charge. 24 churches have benefitted from this service.
A Vital Channel
In addition to practical help RCB is able to take advantage of modern technology to speak words of hope and life into, not just its own community, but also across the whole Arabic speaking Middle East. In a world where going outside and meeting friends and family may not be safe and could be illegal, social media and the internet is providing a vital channel for the church to communicate its message.
Our plans for creating an online church have therefore become even more urgent and we are quickly developing things to cope with increased demand. Pastor Hikmat is recording small video fragments to answer questions from people who might be rethinking their faith and existence, the meaning of life itself, end times, God’s punishment etc. There is a lot of fear around. Many questions are being asked. This is a time when people are increasingly open to listen to our message and RCB continues to have Sunday services online via SAT7 Television and YouTube. As part of the service there are online chat groups, a kid’s ministry, and we have pastors handling online queries from people across the region.
Certainly, while the situation report may be ‘Outlook UNKNOWN’ we are finding that our God is opening new doors to bring his eternal message of hope to people who are hungry for a known future, here a solid foundation can be found, and a new life can begin.
“In Him was Life, and that Life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:4-5