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Life Goes On

September 9, 2013

I am back in Beirut with summer drawing to a close (here summer continues through much of September).  As Syria, Lebanon, and the Middle East in general awaits decision by the USA about whether or not to bomb in Syria; life goes on.  We move forward anticipating a new year.

Last week I was busy with financial aid interviews.  Quite a few of the applicants are Syrian refugees.  Later this week the Financial Aid Committee will make decisions.  I expect that we will be acting similarly to what we have done in the past and make a special effort to offer extra support to Syrian refugees.  In our case, we are seeing mostly Christian refugees; however, refugees in Lebanon from Syria clearly cross all religious and ethnic groups.  Support sent through the UCC for refugees whether it be students trying to move forward with life at a place like Haigazian or simply emergency assistance is needed—if you are so inclined, designate such gifts through Global Ministries.  Allow me to do a call out for Haigazian University.

A reminder that Lebanon is a small nation of 4-5 million people.  Estimates on the number of refugees in Lebanon from Syria range from 1-2 million.  US bombs/missiles in Syria have the potential of bringing Lebanon into the war.  Lebanon is pretty evenly divided on support of Assad and support of the rebels.  Christians tend to support Assad as his policies were accommodating and respectful of Christian communities, while the rebels are an unknown commodity.  This morning the news indicated that a historic Christian community in Syria fell to the rebels and rumors were that some of the Christians who had not fled were forced to convert.  As I have repeatedly said, Syria is not simple.  Despite this, the Christian community in Lebanon has pretty much stayed neutral in regards to Syria.  On the other hand, pro Assad/Syrian government is Hezbollah.  They have not stayed neutral but have actively supported Assad.  On the other side, a number of religious/political groups have aligned themselves with the rebels and have been behind some of the car bombs in Lebanon.  Hezbollah threatens to strike Israel if the US bombs Syria.  You can imagine the scenario that might develop, as Israel is not likely to remain passive.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for peace.

In the meantime, we who reside in a small nation often feel powerless; however, we continue to move forward with life:  orientation of new students, classes beginning, teaching.

Attached is a positive image.  Thanks to a gift of a new flute from Gail for spiritual life.  One of my Spiritual Life students, Karoon, is playing it.  Actually, Karoon just took her last class at Haigazian over the summer so she is one of our most recent graduates.  Karoon graduated with the same degree that Rev. Nayiri received—a joint degree from Haigazian University and the Near East School of Theology.  Karoon is bright, intelligent, incredibly gifted—like so many of our students.  I have dropped hints that she should consider seminary.  Thank you Gail for your gift to Spiritual Life—music for spiritual life—something our world needs in greater supply.

Thank you for your ongoing prayers and your support.

Bruce, Haigazian University Campus Minister

Bruce Schoup serves at Haigazian University, Beirut, Lebanon as Chaplain.

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