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SAT-7 RESPONDS TO EXPLOSION WITH LIVE PROGRAM FROM BEIRUT

6 August 2020

Twenty-four hours after the deadly blast that devastated Beirut, SAT-ARABIC broadcast a live program to stand with their city in its pain, questioning, and search for hope. From the SAT-7 Lebanon studio, three church leaders offer spiritual support to help people battered by multiple waves of adversity to take heart and carry on.

“What we are seeing today is unlike anything we’ve seen yesterday or will see tomorrow. There is glass in the streets and tears in people’s eyes. There is personal and material loss that cannot be counted. But the unity of God can bring us together through faith,” says Presenter Saeed Melki, introducing the 90-minute program.

Lebanon: Pain and Hope aired as latest reports showed a death toll of at least 137, with more than 5,000 people injured and hospitals overwhelmed. The program came from SAT-7’s Beirut studio, which is around 10km from the blast site and experienced minor damage. While all SAT-7 staff are accounted for, almost all have suffered damage to their homes.

On the program, Pastor Hikmat Kashouh of Resurrection Church Beirut and Dr Nabil Costa, Secretary General of the Association of Evangelical Schools, discuss how people are affected, the Church’s response, and how we can find hope amid the darkness. The program includes a report with aerial and street views of Beirut, as well as a video from the Beirut Baptist School, which took damage while 12 staff members were inside.

Pastor Kashouh shares some of what people have said to him in the past 24 hours. “’I’m devastated.’ ‘I don’t know where my son is.’ ‘My husband is not home.’ ‘What will I do?’” Asked how he responds to someone who has lost everything, he says, “Jesus cried for Jerusalem. And today, Jesus cries for Lebanon too. We are one blood today after what happened yesterday. We are sons of hope. Our citizenship is in heaven. I am first in Christ – before any earthly place, I am in Christ.” He encourages viewers to look back to the early Church, who lost friends and homes but came together and took comfort in their new identity in Jesus.

The three guests discuss how people are trying to make sense of it, asking why God let this happen, and where the responsibility for the blast lies. Questioning the role of the Church in a crisis like the explosion, they ask if the role of the Church should be bigger.

“The Church is part of society. We ought to be near to the pain and sadness of the people. We should be a means to encourage and comfort them,” shares Maronite Archbishop Paul Nabil Al-Sayah through a Skype interview.

The church leaders describe how all churches – Maronite, evangelical, Orthodox – are mobilising, some working together, to care for the physical and psychological needs of the people. “The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary has 16 dorm rooms,” says Dr Costa. “My hope is your home, for all those injured. The rooms are also open to refugees.”

“The responsibility of the Church and the person is to be near the other person. The Christian ought to be present. We know the significance of our Christian message,” the Maronite Archbishop continues. He explains that pain is pain whether people are near God or not, whether they are Christian or not, urging that the Church should be near to all people and their needs. “Prayer is [also] a type of presence. Let us go back to God, to speak to God, and listen to God, until our life is a picture of God. God is the one who gives us hope and strength.”

“It is my role to take part in this world,” adds Kashouh. “It is the duty of the Church to raise a voice [during times like these]. Life is greater than death. Light is greater than darkness. Christ didn’t say to speak the light of the world, he said you are the light of the world.”

Rev. Kashouh closes the program with a prayer for all those hurting in Lebanon right now and everyone watching the program, that the Holy Spirit will give them spiritual comfort and healing.

“If you take one point from this, let it be hope. Our hearts are with you. Our minds are with you. From my heart, I pray for Beirut’s safety,” concludes Melki.

Please pray
The explosion rocked a city already facing multiple crises, with economic crisis causing hundreds of thousands of families to go hungry, political turmoil deepening, and COVID-19 cases on the rise.

“We really need a lot of prayer for Lebanon to be able to get up and move forward. We are focusing now on what we can produce to help and encourage people and to look to God. We need a miracle to continue in this small country,” says Maroun Bou Rached, SAT-7 Lebanon Executive Director.

Prayer points
• Pray for Lebanon, for the injured and for those who have lost family. Pray that they will experience God’s mercy, comfort and healing.
• Pray for the 300,000 Beirut residents who have lost their homes due to the destructive explosion, that they will find provision and support in the churches that are reaching out to help.
• Pray for God’s mercy on Lebanon which has already experienced so much devastation this year that we will see things turn around soon.
• Thank God for the mobilisation of so many organisations and countries around the world that are reaching out and sending medical help and supplies.