The Syrian refugee crisis has sparked an amazing revival among Muslims in Lebanon and beyond. More believers around the world are realizing how open Syrian refugees are to the gospel, and even meeting Syrian believers from Muslim backgrounds! What an exciting time to live in! And for me, Beirut is such an exciting place to be in at this time!
The gospel tends to move in waves around the earth. As one people group opens up to the message and sees a great revival, another people group with an established church drifts into the slumber of complacency, whereas yet another people group remains hardened to the gospel. At any given time, some people on earth regard the gospel as a new, controversial, and revolutionary message, while others see it as a stale tradition preserved by backward conventionalists. Being on the crest of a wave of revival is indeed exhilarating, especially when among Muslims, who have been historically the hardest people to reach, and yet are now coming to Christ in thousands!
The Christians of Lebanon are now in a very unique and exciting position, and it’s clear that God has spent decades preparing them for such a time as this. As the Lebanese evangelical movement has grown and matured over the last century, quick growth through evangelism (especially drawing people from traditional Christian denominations) has given way to relative stagnancy as subsequent generations of evangelicals have become comfortable and complacent as a small minority within the large and influential Lebanese Christian minority that makes up about 35% of Lebanon’s population, and controls 50% of the parliament.
While early Lebanese evangelical pioneers, backed by missionaries, had a strong vision to evangelize Lebanon, many current Lebanese churches have lost this vision and are somewhat inwardly focused. The Syrian crisis has done a lot to awaken Lebanese evangelicals to the opportunity to reach Muslim refugees for the gospel. They have seen refugees flood into their churches and cannot deny God’s work among them as more and more accept Christ. It’s becoming so clear that God is working powerfully among refugees, and so clear that Lebanese churches can easily seize the multitude of opportunities to reach them for Christ.
Horizons International is working to leverage this work of God to inspire Lebanese churches to gain a vision not just for sharing the gospel with refugees, but to go one step further — to go and make disciples of all nations as well.
As we have partnered with over 65 Lebanese churches since 2012, when Horizons established its first ministry center in Beirut, we have learned much about both their abilities and their needs. We have thought and prayed much about how we can help, especially as it pertains to increasing their capacity to fulfill the Great Commission, in Lebanon and globally.
Horizons has invested significant resources into helping Lebanese churches increase their impact for the gospel, and is currently providing 39 churches with monthly food aid to pass on to refugees, as well as medical aid, evangelistic materials, training events, and several other kinds of assistance. This support of local churches has born much fruit and given us a renewed vision for even more collaboration.
As a result, Horizons has felt increasingly led to establish the Middle East Center for World Missions (MEC) in order to help catalyze and facilitate the growth of the Kingdom throughout the MENA region. The MEC was officially launched on January 1st, 2019, and is already playing a significant role in helping churches around the world connect to churches and ministries in the Middle East. The MEC Guesthouses currently provide 60 beds to accommodate mission teams from around the world. The MEC also provides language learning opportunities, and connects guests to on-the-ground opportunities to serve among refugees alongside teams of Lebanese and Syrian evangelists, in Horizons’ 5 ministry centers throughout Lebanon, as well as likeminded churches and organizations with whom Horizons partners.
It is our goal to provide a soft landing spot and an extensive network of opportunities for anyone who desires to serve in Lebanon and/or the Middle East so that they can invest their gifts, time, and resources for maximum possible impact. If you’d like to find out how you can make an impact, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help you!