Lebanon: Running Towards Christmas
Christmas can be a tricky time of year – taxing on the emotions as well as the bank account. Though we may wish to respond to every opportunity for generosity in this season, it is not always realistic to do so. The sense that we can’t do ‘enough’ may leave us feeling like there’s no point in doing anything. This Prayerline, however, provides a reminder of what God might do when we step forward anyway.
When a massive explosion rocked Beirut in August 2020, a country that had just begun to find its feet was brought to its knees. Over the last two years, this tragedy was compounded by the pandemic, political unrest, economic sanctions, grain shortages, and a currency that has, to date, lost 95% of its value. Consequently, Lebanon and her people exist in a state of ongoing crisis.
Speaking to this reality, Roula Abi Hanna, General Secretary of Lebanon InterVarsity Fellowship (LIVF), found herself discussing social altruism with Reina, a LIVF member, as they drove to a Bible study. They wondered especially about the question of giving in the light of the upcoming Christmas season. The current situation in Lebanon was, they felt, making “students and people in general think only of themselves and forget others” – a reasonable response when people are forced to make dramatic choices just to survive.
In response, Reina declared her wish to give gifts “to needy kids or elderly people” that Christmas. Roula, encouraged by the idea, suggested they might raise funds for Cedar Home, a Christian society that cares for abandoned, orphaned, and at-risk girls. The LIVF Student Planning Committee readily agreed, but the question remained as to how Roula and her students would raise funds to buy these gifts.
In the process of brainstorming, Roula mentioned that she’d run the Beirut Marathon some 15 years earlier for charity and that asking her friends for sponsorship had “worked surprisingly very well”. But even as she recalled this, Roula had no idea that a new Beirut Marathon was due to be run the following month, on 13 November! The group couldn’t believe it. The opportunity felt even more providential when they realized that registration for the event was about to close.
Roula challenged the LIVF students’ coordinator, Heba, to run the marathon and she agreed on the condition that two other “sporty students”, Miguel and Michel, joined her. Reina, whose convictions led to this project, also signed up to run for her cause. So, the LIVF team of four was ready to face the 10km route, but first had to face the donors.
Given the economic situation in Lebanon, they managed their expectations. But God was at work in people’s hearts, igniting their sense of generosity, and fundraising efforts were more successful than the group could have anticipated. The LIVF runners came away with USD 200 enough to buy gifts and a Christmas cake for the children at Cedar Home.
Along with their gifts, the students also prepared “some Christmas cards, a skit, and other things to present to the kids” during their visit on 17 December. This project has been especially poignant for Heba, who grew up as an orphan in a similar Christian center. On the morning of their visit to Cedar Home, she shared “a small testimony on how God intervened in her life and gave her hope as an orphan and also a foreigner.”
Roula is “very thankful to see how God led this project from its beginning and how it challenged our students and people to think of others even in the hard current situation.” Indeed, the spirit of this season is found in every act of generosity, as illustrated by the students of LIVF. “How beautiful it is”, observes Roula, “to see them giving to others from their time, energy and talents.”
Please pray with us for LIVF Lebanon:
- Thank God for guiding this generous effort from start to finish and pray that he would continue to inspire LIVF students to think of and help others, even in the difficult current situation.
- Pray that Roula, who began as LIVF General Secretary earlier this year, would have wisdom, compassion, and perseverance to lead the movement amidst the current challenges.
- Pray that LIVF Lebanon would be able to witness powerfully and creatively to the hope that Christ offers.
Thank you for supporting LIVF Lebanon in prayer. If you feel led to contribute to their movement financially, you can do so here.
Please note that, due to the holiday break, our next Prayerline will be published on 10 January.