Last week fifteen volunteer educators from churches across Lebanon spent their entire Saturday gathered in the hills above Beirut. They collaborated to coordinate the education programs they offer to over 1,200 vulnerable refugee students in eight different programs. Food for the Hungry’s local implementing partner, the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), brought them together.
LSESD’s relief and development arm is comprised of a small team of only eight staff members. In Lebanon and Syria, they are able to reach over 2,000 students with education and psychosocial support, 5,130 families with food assistance, and provide over 4,300 non-food items such as milk and diapers, blankets, mattresses, to refugee families every month.
Expanding the Reach
This small team can have this broad reach because they equip and support local faith communities, like the churches who gathered last Saturday. They give their time and resources to respond to the refugee crisis in their neighborhoods. This community led localization of aid multiplies God’s work and your donations by empowering the Church to live out her calling to become the hands and feet of Christ.
This work of local faith communities, however, does not come without a cost or sacrifice. Typical humanitarian aid workers know they must keep an emotional distance. They leave the community they serve at the end of every day and for regular R&R. The pastors, lay people, and refugees who implement humanitarian response with LSESD however, become integral members of the community they serve. They live there day in and day out, immerse themselves in relationships and fell motivated by profound conviction to live out God’s love and justice for the vulnerable.
So when this group of lay humanitarian heroes gathered for a coordination meeting, their agenda began with a much needed scriptural reflection on Psalm 10.
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God! Do not forget the helpless…You, God, see the troubles of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.
It is through God’s people serving in Lebanon and Syria that God is seeing and acting. The pastors, volunteers and lay people who teach refugee children, hand out food boxes, sit in hot tents with mother’s and children, see the trouble of the afflicted, carry their grief, and respond with love and compassion on behalf of our Lord on a daily basis.
Their burdens are heavy.
So as these tired educators listened to the words of Psalm 10, they wrote down the troubles of the afflicted that they see and hear and the burdens of grief that they carry. They lifted these up to God, calling on him to continue to use them to act on his behalf for the vulnerable and hungry.
The following are some of their cries and prayers. As you read them today, I encourage you to pray with them and for them. Maybe even ask if God is challenging you and your local church to see and act on His behalf.
We see those who are afraid of the evil ones who have hurt and destroyed.
We see deep brokenness.
We see the innocent being killed and the poor crushed down.
We see the presence of evil.
We see the tears of orphans not feeling love.
The weeping of humble ones is heard.
We are angry because evil is succeeding.
Indeed, the Lord of creation is weeping and mourning over Syria right now.
We feel with those who are hurt and ask thy Kingdom to come.
God will not forget those whose hearts are crushed.
We pray that the rights of the orphans and marginalized will be given so that no one on earth can terrify them.
Please Lord, hear the young ones crying because of the violence and cruelty of their world.
In partnership with the Integral Alliance and the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) in Lebanon, Food for the Hungry helps provide food, shelter, hygiene kits, educational assistance, child-friendly spaces, psychosocial support and more through local faith communities. To learn more and to support Lebanese and Syrian churches with this life-saving work go to www.fh.org/syria
To learn more and to support Lebanese and Syrian churches with this life-saving work go to www.fh.org/syria.