God had so much more planned for this trip than we could have ever organized. From the time we stepped off the plane in Beirut, God began to use Mary and I to do His work. So much happened in 10 short days that we are amazed at God’s sovereignty and his goodness. We are so thankful for your prayers.
There were times we saw God work in ways we expected through counseling, teaching, etc. But there were also times when individuals surprised us by saying things like, “I thank God you came. You did ____ in my life.” Mary and I were left wondering, “Really? What did we do that would help in that way?” We could only say, “Praise God. He did this in your life, not us.” It just reminded us that God’s sovereignty is so far beyond us and he can use us even when we are not aware of what he is doing.
Because we spend a lot of time counseling individuals, we do not always share specifics. But here are some of the highlights of the trip:
- Lebanon has suffered about 800% inflation. Yes, that is correct: 1,500 LBP was worth $1.00 a year ago. Today it is worth about 12 cents. The government has frozen most personal bank accounts, attempting to artificially prop up the currency. Despite this, the Lebanese believers were incredibly welcoming and generous. It was humbling to be served and receive so much generosity from a people in such deep financial crisis.
- We met with believers, missionaries, and ministers from Lebanon, Egypt, Germany, and Romania. We also met with native Syrians and Iraqis ministering and living in Lebanon. We saw God use these times together to minister and encourage our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. In the past year, these believers have started 2 schools for refugees, food distribution to needy families, and so many other ministries.
- The conference was held Monday – Thursday, from 2pm to about 8pm each day. Coronavirus, infrastructure, and cultural differences brought us many opportunities to be flexible. At first it was quite stressful, but we decided to trust God through the hour-by-hour adjustments. God did not disappoint. As we look back on the week, we can see how He used many of these inconveniences to shape the week just as he wanted it.
For example, on Thursday we planned to do one-on-one sessions with each attendee but did not have enough private meeting spaces. We had no power in the facility the entire day but continued with laptops, cellular data, and cellphone flashlights. The darkness created a sense of separation for each private counseling session even though most shared the same room. We hoped for working electricity, but God used this power outage to enable His work!
- Mary had such a great ministry. God used her in powerful ways, and the Lebanese people were drawn to her. She had many opportunities to listen, counsel, and encourage.
- We asked you to pray for unity. We experienced unity with a team from 3 countries. God is good. Thanks to Burgi Ohler (Germany) and Jennifer Nagy (Poland), who both worked selflessly with our team, even though they were unable to travel and attend in-person.
- We asked you to pray for healing for the conference attendees. The attendees came with great needs but open hearts. We saw many take great strides toward healing from past trauma. Attendees learned about the power of forgiveness to bring healing. They also received tools and individual counseling to help them process fear and anxiety in a healthier way. It typically takes a few weeks to hear back from individuals how God is bringing change.
One young man received help for a nearly debilitating anxiety. He knew the anxiety was irrational but still felt powerless in certain situations. Two days after the conference, he shared how he stepped into this same situation and experienced very little stress. Praise God!
- We asked you to pray for God to raise up ministers in Lebanon to continue to use these tools to bring healing to the Lebanese church and people even after we left. The final chapter has not yet been written, but we left confident that the leaders understood the tools. Most had an opportunity to practice the tools in sessions with conference attendees. We will offer to continue to support this effort remotely via online tools like Zoom.
We are so thankful for what we saw God do. We have learned we are only one part of the team: As we see God’s hand at work, He is answering the prayers of our partners around the world. We have the privilege of being on the ground doing the work, but those of you who are faithfully praying for us will—for sure—share in the reward. I look forward to a time in glory when I imagine Jesus will open the books, explain how each person impacted a life through prayer or financial gifts or ministry, and honor all who faithfully played their part as lead by the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for being our partners in this Kingdom work. Please continue to remember our brothers and sisters in Lebanon in your prayers. Ask God to keep them pure and holy, using them to reach the hurting and lost people of Lebanon!
Mike and Mary