A medical mission trip highlight
In 2003, God established True Vine Church in Zahle, Lebanon. From the beginning, the heartbeat of this church has been to preach the gospel and care for people in a holistic way—caring for their physical, psychosocial, socioeconomic, and spiritual needs. Pastor Jihad Haddad describes their mission as, “Standing by vulnerable families in Zahlé, reflecting God’s redeeming love, serving them with both hands: spiritually and physically.”
I, Annie, personally attended True Vine Church for a year and a half and saw firsthand the fruit of their ministry. True Vine Church is one of the 97 churches in Lebanon that Horizons partners with. God is working miraculously through these churches to share the gospel and disciple new believers, leading many to come into a transforming relationship with Jesus.
The church’s strategy to reach the Middle East for Christ is as follows:
- Equip national leaders (Lebanese and Syrians)
- Expand through home churches (DBS program)
- Use the church building as a community center
- Equip the new generations of children and youth
- Cooperate with internationals for short & long-term missions
- Raise awareness among other local churches to help fulfill the vision
The leaders at True Vine crafted the following mission statement:
“To practice Christian faith openly and clearly. To live as one spiritual family and to take care of each other. To preach Christ Jesus as the sole Lord and Savior to all people. To live a Christian life in full faith and behavior. To spread the message of salvation to all nations without distinction and to seek to develop new Church centers and services. To create new servants and to support them morally, spiritually, and materially. To provide social services that contribute to the development of our societies and open up new areas for the dissemination of the Gospel. To do good for all, especially the people of faith.”
True Vine hosts discipleship classes and special training opportunities for potential ministry leaders. The church has also equipped and sent out three missionaries to minister in Syria. Currently, there are over 35 people in the church’s discipleship and leadership training program. There are 25 women in their women’s discipleship class and over 20 girls in their teenager discipleship program. Additionally, there are a series of discipleship groups for Syrian Kurdish refugees. All of these groups are learning how to follow Jesus and share Jesus with others.
True Vine has a number of relief and outreach teams who do regular house visits and bless families with much-needed relief supplies. Every aspect of their ministry is centered around Christ and the sharing of the gospel.
Currently, the church is providing food assistance to 1,600 Syrian refugee families and 800 vulnerable Lebanese families. One of the ways they do this is through their Farming and Agricultural Project, which they started in 2020. Through this venture, they are distributing fresh vegetables and canned preserved food for needy and vulnerable families. Their success inspired Horizons to start our own Agricultural Development project!
True Vine provides blankets, fuel for heaters, heaters, hygiene kits, clothing, milk and diapers, and emergency lights. The church also offers care services such as laundry services, vocational training, free medical checkups, Laboratory tests, x-rays, and free medications. They have a school similar to the Horizons’ School of Hope, in which they serve Syrian and Lebanese children. Currently, they have 300 students at True Vine School (Grades KG to G5) and 250 students at their tent schools. In addition to this, they host literacy programs for young adults.
Another aspect of their ministry is hosting medical missions teams. There is a team of dentists that I personally serve with called “Touch of Hope”, that serves at True Vine Church two to three times a year (with the exception of 2020 because of Covid) since 2016. Some of the team members are from my home church in Michigan. The dentists set up a clinic in the church and serve the congregation and the community that the church ministers to. I serve as one of the translators for the team.
Over the years our team has seen God at work in many ways through the clinic, and 2021 was no exception. In May we met a Syrian man named Mostafa.
During the clinic, we take time to pray with each patient and share about Jesus. Early in the week, Mostafa came with much pain from his teeth. He needed multiple teeth on both sides to be removed, as they were so decayed there was no hope of saving them. Mostafa looked like a skeleton, he was so malnourished. On that first day, the dentists removed four teeth from one side. They told him to come back tomorrow for the other side.
Mostafa came back the next day, and when he entered the clinic everyone noticed that he looked very weak. He became pale and was losing consciousness, so our team came around to help him. It was decided that he should be sent to the hospital, so a member of True Vine Church escorted him.
In the hospital, Mostafa started to tear up and said to the church member, “You are all doing this… for Jesus?” The church member said yes, and began to tell Mostafa about Jesus.
After leaving the hospital, Mostafa came back to the clinic. When we saw him, we asked, “How are you feeling?” He looked us straight in the eye and pointed with his finger and told us, “Your way is the truth.” I looked at him, pointed my finger upwards, and said, “Jesus is the Truth. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He answered, “Yes, and all the other religions have it wrong. They have it wrong!” Mostafa shared that his god was dead and had never answered his prayers. So he was intrigued by our God who does!
I went to ask the church if they could have one of the leaders come and sit with Mostafa and tell him more about Jesus and add him to the monthly food distribution. The church sent someone named Idrees to the clinic to sit with Mostafa. For a couple of hours, they talked about Jesus.
Afterward, Idrees reported to us what happened. As it turns out, Idrees had tried sharing the gospel with Mostafa a few years ago. At that time, he had not been open to hearing it. In fact, at the clinic, Mostafa confessed that he used to hate Idrees and considered him his enemy! Now, Mostafa told Idrees that he wanted to know all about Jesus and that he is very thankful for Idrees! Idrees told us that he would be regularly visiting Mostafa to disciple him and care for him. Apparently, Mostafa had been reading both the Quran and the Bible for seven years searching for the Truth.
In September, our team ran another clinic. Mostafa heard that we were back, and he came simply to thank the team for how we all had cared for him. One of the dentists noticed that Mostafa still had decayed teeth in need of pulling, and was able to convince Mostafa to let him pull those teeth. As Mostafa sat in the dental chair, he excitedly shared with us what he was learning about Jesus. His wife also came to the clinic with their children, and the team served them as well. I’m excited for how Mostafa and his family will continue to be discipled by this church and grow deeper in relationship with Christ.
Partnership in the Great Commission
The medical team and I are thankful for True Vine Church’s ministry. Over the years we have seen multiple clinic patients come to Christ and be discipled and baptized, and go on to lead others to Christ. One family was asked why they started attending the church, and their response was “Because you truly care for us.” and “We are witnessing how your Jesus answers prayers!”
True Vine asks for prayers for the physical, emotional, and spiritual healing for the hundreds of families that they serve. If you feel led to join us in partnering with the kingdom work of True Vine Church, you can do so using the link below.