LEBANON Yesterday, a massive explosion took place at the Port in Beirut that resulted in a mushroom cloud of toxic gas and shockwaves that were felt even in Cyprus. Sadly, it reminded me of 9/11 here in NYC. As of now more than 100 people have been confirmed killed, and more than 4,000 have been wounded. It currently seems that the blast was from 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer). Compare this with the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and had only 2 tons of ammonium nitrate.
Here’s some shocking video, in case you haven’t seen some of these images by now:
The injured were rushed to overrun hospitals, many of which were damaged as well. Several reports are saying 300,000 people are homeless due to the widespread damage to houses across the city. This reminds me of what happened in Haiti’s earthquake 10 years ago on a smaller scale.
This tragedy comes on top of a major economic crisis in Lebanon, as the country’s debt crisis had already reached its breaking point. Inflation has shot through the roof as the currency’s value has plummeted, and the poverty level has now reached 60%. The destroyed port also contained tons of wheat and other food items. Lebanon imports virtually all of its food, so this is a devastating blow to its food supply chain.
Thankfully, Jamie and Sandra’s family happened to be Stateside for the summer, so they are safe; and they’ve offered their apartment to be used by some of the newly homeless in the church. Our partner church, RCB, has been checking; and none of their members have been seriously hurt. However, one of the main refugee neighborhoods was badly damaged. The front façade of the Syrian church’s building caved in, and the Iraqi church building’s glass doors were destroyed. Thankfully, our Medical Life Center was somehow undamaged.
We are currently assessing the situation to see what help we can provide, either through the church or through our Medical Life Center.
Please pray for the people of Beirut: comfort for those who lost loved ones and provision for those who lost homes or supplies.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle’s International Workers have been providing COVID-19 pandemic relief in countries such as Haiti, Belize, Dominican Republic and Philippines. In addition, our partner, World Compassion Fellowship (WCF), with whom we collaborated to launch the Haiti ESL/Computer Training Life Center and Lebanon Medical Life Center, has also completed a COVID-19 Relief Project in 6 countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, India and Pakistan. More than 13,800 families and 78,800 people were blessed by a month’s supply of Food and Hygiene Care Packages during the summer.
# of Families
# of People
Here’s just a small sample of the impact in each country.
In Lebanon, Salwa is a Syrian widow who said this gift of food support has been a lifesaver. Rasha is from Egypt and has 3 children, but her husband is in prison. She expressed her gratitude for the Food and Hygiene Care Packages given their desperate situation.
In Jordan, a Syrian refugee family told us “when everybody abandoned us, you came to our home to bring us this blessing.” Another Syrian refugee family of 9 members said, “We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your help and for standing with us in our difficult situation. Our financial situation is very bad, especially with my dad being unemployed and sick (diabetic) and my mother beset with thyroid problems. Your gift came just in time. Thank you for your love and assistance.”
In Iraq, we made distributions to families with disabilities in Syrian Refugee and Yazidi IDP camps. These families have been hard hit with job losses and the burden of having disabled family members. When we distributed these care packages, the families were “so overjoyed and touched that people from NYC (which they knew to be the epicenter of COVID-19 deaths at that time) would be willing to help them from across the world.”
In Turkey, a refugee family was in a desperate situation because the father had lost his sight and couldn’t work. They were eating barely one meal a day, so the food packages were a “very great help for them.” The wife/mom said that “she was greatly touched by our help.”
In India, we distributed care packages to 300 leper families. They were “more than happy to receive the relief packages, since they had scarcely had anything to eat for the last few days. The people who live in the leprosy colonies hardly expected this act of generosity…they expressed both joy and thankfulness.” These families are truly some of the most unreached and outcast of that society.
In Pakistan, Christians represent a very small percentage (2%) of the population. The society allocates the worst jobs—such as cleaning the sewers or brick kiln work—to minorities, such as Christians. Unfortunately, government aid was routinely not made available to minority religious groups throughout the pandemic. The hundreds of families that received the care packages “were very thankful for the love that you showed through your donations.”
Please pray for God’s mercy and provision for the most desperate families.