I’m sure you have all seen the scenes of devastation in Beirut following the explosion in the port. Recent history has been disaster after disaster for the people of Lebanon with the explosion following on from the COVID-19 epidemic and the collapse of the economy.
Despite being a mile or so from the port the Life Center has been damaged but thankfully no one in the church has been seriously injured.
The following is an update from Pastor Said on the damage to the church building, but also the church’s response to the disaster.
Message from Pastor Said
Life Center is deeply hurt – yet still giving life away!
The strength of the August 4 explosion in Beirut port was massive, some are trying to compare it to Hiroshima, it is number 2 after Hiroshima. In addition to thousands of casualties between injuries, death and lost, 300 thousand around us are left without home in the area.
The “Life Center” our Church and mutual Faith NGO base was heavily affected by the blast. People of our community are left without help in every aspect of their lives, especially those who lost their apartment, their business, their source of income and who come to church seeking food relief, hot meal, baby milk, rent support and any other kind of support such as medical care (medicine or seeing a medical professional etc.). The Lebanese government seems to have abandoned people and the crisis in Lebanon has been very tough but now after the catastrophe, I can find no words to describe the need at all levels . It is all over the news since October 17, 2019.
Yes, no words can describe the situation. Economists say that Lebanon has entered the starvation era and we can’t get out of it before 2025 best case scenario. Therefore, our church members, visitors and people in our neighbourhood are in need of our daily support. They come to the Life center and church asking for emergency help, when they find no other alternative .
Lebanon is in a dark tunnel, however, there’s a bright light waiting for all of us at the end of it. Due to Life Center’s location in Bourj Hammoud, at one-minute drive from the port and explosion, the damage is severe, and our neighbourhood as well as the homes of those we are serving have been badly affected . The life Center lost it’s doors and windows, ceilings, lamps, main gate, curtains, air conditioners, computers and laptops, but praise the lord not one of us was hurt.
Since minute one, 30 of our youngsters and church leaders gathered to clean the broken glass, dust, wood, twisted aluminium, etc.
We worked together Tuesday night all night till Wednesday night and cleaned the place, locked the gates to assure the security of the place. Now the life center is clean but has no windows and doors, etc. Some of us were cleaning and others cooking and distributing hot meals, and tomorrow we will make sandwiches and feed those staying in rebels, we are planning to make 500 sandwiches a day for a whole week.
We are responding to the crisis in three different ways:
- Distributing Food parcels
- Cooking Hot meals
- Making Sandwiches.
- Providing rent assistance
This is my office after the explosion. We were meeting here a few hours before the explosion took place. I felt that I should cancel all meetings and classes, and send everyone home now, I was rude, and forced some of our leaders to leave, they were wondering why sending us home so early, why cancelling everything?? I told them I don’t know why but I know you all should leave the Life Center and go home, the minute we reached home, the explosion took place, and many lives were spared – glory to Jesus. Then I called everyone to come back and help with cleaning. For 24 hours 30 youths and church members were cleaning none stop; some of us crying, others silent. We were all in shock.
This is what we plan to do in response to the disaster:
Distributing food parcels to affected families The importance of this Food Parcel Distribution is to help families fight hunger and to support them through the crisis physically and psychologically, giving them a sense of security and hope
The food parcels provide families with groceries and other healthy items valued at about $50. With the budget needed, we have the capacity of helping up to 500 families. Not to mention administrative fees like phone calls, storage, bags, data base etc, that can easily add up to 20% of the budget.
Cooking hot meals for families in need around the church This project we can have 5 days a week, thanks to our kitchen equipment and staff. We have the capacity of cooking 200 to 400 hot meal portions per day.
At $1.20 cost per portion per day, including the cook and two assistants, package, gas, local and staff.
For example: 200 portions would cost $240 ready for take away.
Making Sandwiches with the purpose of outreach Many volunteers are helping to clean the streets and to fix what they can after the explosion. We would like to send a team of church members with tables, bread, cheese, vegetables, and water bottles, to make sandwiches and distribute them to those cleaning the streets and broken apartments.
The approximate cost for a sandwich and a water bottle is $1 and we have the capacity to send teams to make and distribute up to 500 sandwiches a day.
House Rent Support We have 30 families in urgent need for support to pay rent – we have all their information.
With one hundred USD per month we can help assist a family to stay with a roof above their heads.
30 x $100 = $3000 per month.
Life Center Repairs
Because of the massive explosion the Life Center was rocked – lots of damage, no doors, no windows, nothing left. We should secure it against theft. Praise the Lord, only the kitchen is still operating. We are working 24/7 on cleaning rubbish and installing plastic for windows and doors.
We would appreciate it if you can contribute to the Life Center repairs so we can rebuild and fix the doors, windows, glass, to secure the safety inside, and after that we do the curtains, dropped ceiling, lights, and church halls. We have an estimate of 50 thousand US dollars to do everything and bring the center back to what it was 2 days ago. Thank you for your support.