The trip begins in Winston-Salem. We three journeymen rendezvoused at Kalim’s home for a carpool to the airport. “You’ve been to Israel? Let me see your passport.” Kalim said. “Ah hah! See this sticker? They know this sticker. They’d never let you in.” Less than five minutes into the trip and already I had been caught with contraband. I spent my drive cleaning off that sticker, wondering just what had I walked into…
A trip to Lebanon was sudden for me. My friend and teacher, John Mark, insisted I come. He promised me my life would be changed. Our stated goal was to encourage the Christians in Lebanon, yet little was told me beyond this. Nor did I need more, for in prayer and counsel and the laying on of hands God confirmed his sending me on this trip. In faith I went, knowing we would be educated during the journey.
Upon arriving in Lebanon, I encountered a land of beauty. Mountains fill the landscape, stopping at the shores of the Mediterranean. Cities and villages millennia old dot the landscape. Fruit trees are everywhere, from olives to kumquats, bananas to almonds. But nothing was more beautiful than seeing a land so full of the hand of my God. I could not shake that this land was a holy land, a place where God himself chose to place his name. His handiwork is why I came.
The first stop was the city of Tyre, a place cloaked in darkness and filled with members of Hezbollah. The people of the city are living off the fumes of yesterday’s wealth. “See all these cars?” Kalim asked. “They can’t afford to fix these cars. Once they breakdown, they’re done.” Kalim then continued “The government subsidizes the food, but they’re out of money. The subsidies are about to end and then many people won’t have enough money for food.” In this backdrop a man by the name of Mohammed prospers. His church, “The Church of Tyre”, is in the heart of the Islamic city. While I only know a little of his story, I am witness to his fruit. In faith his church purchased farmland and livestock before the crisis, and now they have food to spare. Their “Lighthouses” offer employment, education, medicine and food to people in need. Their wood shop builds furniture, and they even just acquired a hospital. Mohammed leads his people in praise and bible study every morning before work begins. Around them the peoples of Tyre are experiencing the loss of the country they have known, but here was a place of life. We stayed three nights in the guest rooms of Tyre Church.
An outpouring of God in the Beqaa Valley determined our next stop. True Vine Church in Zahle opened their guest rooms for us, and we stayed with them two nights. Every evening young men and women who Jesus has saved assemble to worship and glorify their King in a farmer’s field outside the city. In the words of Kalim, “I have never witnessed this in all my years in Lebanon.” Fifty young men and women worshipped their hearts out to the God of Israel our first night there. Where did this life come from? I asked a few of their stories. A young man shared of putting God to the test to see if he was real. God responded by sending him a missionary who, upon praying for him, caused something like fire to permeate the bodies of himself and his wife. His atheism broken, he committed himself to study God and the Bible. Jesus himself appeared as a lion to him a month later, delivering him from a chronic nightmare. This man, Eli, was three years old in Christ as he told me this testimony. Around us were his spiritual brothers who shared similar stories. Many were months old in Christ, some were days old. Yet the Spirit of Truth dwelled in their midst. In fullness of joy I worshiped with my brothers.
What was the story of this fellowship in the farmer’s field? Pastor Jihad of True Vine saw a vision of many people worshipping God in a farmer’s field. In faith he purchased the field and made room for God to move. God supplied the people. October 2020 they filled a tent. May 2021 they filled a small building. More are coming daily. We witnessed the baptisms of four believers, and the day after we left Pastor Jihad baptized fifty more.
Our final two nights were in the city of Beirut at a Christian conference center. Our rooms overlooked Beirut from one of the many mountains. Kalim and JohnMark encouraged and exhorted several believers at the conference center, including a man of God named Nabil. Nabil shared with me my main takeaway from the trip: God is pouring out his wealth upon the righteous within Lebanon through the riches of faith and grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. We are witness to this verse. By faith Jihad bought his field and is feeding tens of thousands a year while God sends him people who are being saved. Mohammod planted his church in the heart of darkness and is witness to God’s ever-growing light in Tyre. In a land where lawlessness is increasing, God is blessing those who trust in him. His son is leading the charge on the front lines. Let all God’s people praise Yah! Amen.