“Here in Lebanon, the population was four million in 2011 before the war in Syria. Now it’s more than five and a half million, swollen by desperate refugees. That’s the equivalent of the UK taking in 20 million refugees.”
Those are the words of TearFund’s chief executive Nigel Harris who recently visited Lebanon and saw first hand the work of partner organisations distributing supplies to people in need. “A vicious war has been raging for more than five years [in neighbouring Syria] and at the very least, a quarter of a million people have died.”
Amongst the heart-breaking accounts of war and loss, Harris heard a story of hope from Pastor Ramy whose church, founded in 2003, has grown from seven to 300 members.
“Pastor Ramy talks about Nadia from his congregation. Nadia was separated from her husband who was still in Syria. She was struggling to provide for her three children and food was very hard to come by. One night she had a dream in which Jesus appeared. He was holding all her family in his hands saying that he was going to provide for them.
‘The next morning she left her home, carefully checking both door locks on her way out. The house was still locked on her return. However, to her astonishment, the cupboard that had been empty was now full of food.
“Nadia was deeply moved by this amazing provision and wondered how she was going to explain what had happened to her husband. That night she had the same dream. So, the next day she called her husband. Before she could say anything, her husband told her how he had a dream where Jesus was providing for all their family’s needs. Nadia’s husband is now reunited with Nadia and the family. Through all this – one way or another – their needs continue to be met.
In his blog on the TearFund website, Harris reflects:
“Every refugee I speak to asks us to pray for peace. If peace comes, they will return home. It’s tempting to think that it’s not worth the effort to pray – nothing could change such a bloody and intractable conflict. Then I think of the God who inspires the tireless work of our partners in Lebanon, as they stop and show care to every last person they visit with food. And I think of the God who fills Nadia’s larder – suddenly the effort of a few prayers doesn’t seem so much to ask.”