I have been heartsick over the way the tragedy in Paris has so quickly been turned into an opportunity to spew hatred against the most vulnerable – those fleeing the same evil that blew themselves up in the heart of Europe.
I thought about writing a post about what I believe a Christian response should be to the refugee situation. Put my masters of theology into good use.
I also had the naive thought that maybe if people just KNEW some of the stories of the refugees they were calling such hateful names, maybe that would change the way they thought and talked about them. I am in a unique position after all, in that I interact with refugees on a daily basis.
But I (re)learned very quickly that trying to reason and discuss with someone who is blinded by fear and hate goes nowhere. The names that I was called paled in comparison to the adjectives used to describe the men, women and children THAT I KNOW PERSONALLY who want nothing more than to live a life with their families without fear.
I was tempted to take myself off facebook completely because honestly my heart just could not take it anymore. But what changed my mind was the many messages I received from people wanting to know how they can help refugees RIGHT NOW.
I have no desire to get into a political discussion about vetting processes and the responsibility of the government. Nor will I have another conversation about who Jesus actually meant when He said to love your neighbor.
But I certainly can direct you in ways to help refugees here in Lebanon.
Even though it seems that those who hate the most seem to be talking the loudest, I know that most people really do want to love, want to serve, want to help, but just don’t know how. So I’ve compiled a list of faith based organizations and groups that are working with refugees here in Lebanon that I personally know and trust. I know what they are doing is good, and they will use your gifts well.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. There are plenty more doing great things here in Lebanon, and I’m not even touching those who are helping refugees in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey or Europe. But for those of you wanting to get involved, this is a place to start.
Sad el Boucherieh Baptist Church
This is the ministry of our church here in Beirut. We currently serve around 1400 Iraqi and Syrian families. Gifts given are used to provide refugees with food vouchers, home cooked meals, winterization items such as blankets, mattresses, heaters and gas, rent money, school tuition, medical expenses and more. Besides collecting and distributing clothing, toys and household items, I help run a music class for moms with their small children, providing a small reprieve from the stress and tragedy that follows their every step by allowing children to dance and sing and laugh with their mamas.
To give, click here.
Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development
This is the parent organization for the seminary where Caleb teaches. “LSESD’s humanitarian response to the Syria crisis served over 5000 households of vulnerable Syrians in Lebanon and Syria with food aid and medical assistance, also non-food and winterization items such as blankets, mattresses and stoves.” They have different aid packages set up, for example $70 gift will provide a family with 4 blankets and one mattress, crucial to surviving the coming winter months.
For more information and to give, click here.
Tahaddi is an education and health center in one of the poorest areas of Beirut where many refugees have settled. Their “aim is to serve socially vulnerable families and victims of conflict and discrimination, regardless of their nationality, religion and social background.” They currently have approximately 120 students attending school at the educational center, provide medical services to over 2500 patients, and provide follow up care to the most vulnerable families through in home visits by Tahaddi’s social workers.
Pioneers School Program
A friend of mine living in one of the suburbs of Beirut runs a school program for 37 refugee children in her neighborhood, where many refugees have settled. There are no formal camps set up in Lebanon, which means refugees often end up in the poorer parts of the country, living many in a small apartment, often being taken advantage of by their landlords. In addition to the school program, refugee families in need are provided with food packages and winterization items such as jackets, blankets and heaters.
To give, click here and enter account number 150106
Relief and Development in the border regions
Some dear friends of mine spend much of their time working with refugees in the Bekaa Valley and the North, both very near to the Syrian border. The do home visits to assess the needs and then provide relief through the distribution of food, clothing, blankets, hygiene kits and more. By sitting and having a cup of coffee, listening to the stories of those who have fled everything they know, and praying for their families, those who live on the margins are reaffirmed of their value and worth in the eyes of God.
To give to the general fund for refugee work in the whole region, click here.
To give specifically to the work in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, click here and enter the code B12SyrRspLeb in the comment section.
To give specifically to the work in North Lebanon, click here and enter the code B12NorthLeb in the comment section.
Heart for Lebanon
This is an organization that I haven’t worked with as closely, but is closely connected to our community and has a wonderful reputation. From their website, “Heart for Lebanon’s heart is to unconditionally serve those who have been marginalized and rejected. We are committed to reach the lost and broken, to advance peace, justice, and equality and to empower the marginalized and rejected by the power of God. We believe transformation is a process and not an event. Therefore, Heart for Lebanon is a faith- based holistic ministry that uses relief in many cases, but not exclusively, as the first step in the process of transforming an individual and their community. This also includes bringing dignity to the marginalized and rejected communities in country, including Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and Southern Lebanon, as well as the Bedouin, Gypsy, and Turkman communities residing throughout the country. Our goal is to build deep relationships with the families and people we serve. Serving them not once but over time through one of our two initiatives: Relief & Community Care or Children at Risk.”
For more information and to give, click here.
There are also plenty of international organizations doing good work among refugees here in Lebanon and across the region. Samaritan’s Purse is one. It you’d prefer not to donate through faith-based organizations, there are also some great options. I don’t work as closely with these groups, but I’m certainly willing to do a little research if anyone is interested.