Lectionary Selection: Exodus 3:1–15
Prayers for Lebanon:
Dear God, as so many of your people face the uncertainty of conflict and violence, may you provide inspiration and guidance to discover creative means for a just peace. As you guided Moses, may you also guide us in our journey to discover our potential for peace.
This day we especially lift up our partners in Lebanon and Syria as they work to bridge deep historic societal divisions. Divisions that are threatened to be made deeper by rhetoric of hate and exclusion. In this time of political uncertainty and crisis, grant decision makers throughout the world the calm and serenity needed to resolve intransigence, conflict, and division in a peaceable manner.
In your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Lebanon:
Words such as “conflict” and “ violence” are often associated with the Middle East. However, despite the apparent evidence affirming this connotation, there are many who work relentlessly to find creative and innovative ways to foster a culture of mutual respect, dialogue, and coexistence in their contexts of division and conflict.
The Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue is one such organization finding unique ways of achieving this end. Through the act and process of providing humanitarian assistance for IDPs in Syria, FDCD’s network of interfaith partners maintains and bolsters such a culture.
In October and November 2013, the communities FDCD works most closely with became some of the many focal points of the Syrian Crisis. As extremist groups moved from town to town through the region, they took great care to destroy any institution, property, and/or facility associated with the Syrian government; including those associated with the local Christian community (due to their perceived association with the Syrian government).
With word quickly spreading through the region of the militant’s advance, many in these communities fled to neighboring villages perceived not to be in the direct path of conflict. The abandonment of the villages left many of the region’s churches unprotected. As such, many were defaced and destroyed by the extremists.
When the militants entered the Syrian Orthodox church in the town of Deir Attieh, they were met with a surprise. Standing between a small group of Christians seeking shelter in the church and the door stood a group of 30 from Deir Attieh’s Muslim community. Though their advance slowed, the militants who entered the church continued to move towards those seeking shelter.
Standing their ground, the group of Muslim residents stated; “If you wish to harm these people, and defile this church, you will have to kill us first!”
As I asked our partners what effect, if any, FDCD had on how their region emerged from this period of conflict the answer was unanimous: “Without the relationships fostered as a result of the coordination required for organizing and implementing the distribution of humanitarian assistance amidst the complexity of the Syrian Crisis, the region likely would not have been able to maintain its historic relationships.”
Just as Moses received inspiration and directive to lead his people out from under the heavy hand of oppression, may we also seek the inspiration to develop creative means for a just peace.
(Prayer and Mission Moment by Andrew Long-Higgins)
Mission Partners in Lebanon:
- Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue (FDCD)
- Haigazian University
- Middle East Council of Churches
- National Evangelical Church of Beirut
- Near East School of Theology
More information on Lebanon:
Global Ministries Missionary in Lebanon:
Andrew Long-Higgins, a member of David's United Church of Christ, Canal Winchester, Ohio, serves as a Global Mission Intern at the Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue (FDCD), Beirut, Lebanon. His appointment is supported by Week of Compassion, Our Churches Wider Mission, Disciples Mission Fund and your special gifts.