On Tuesday, a large explosion ripped through Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. The devastating blast, which was centered near the port, killed more than 135 people and injured more than 5,000. While the search for survivors is ongoing, the death toll is expected to rise.
The explosion demolished the port area and sent shockwaves of destruction throughout the city center. Many have lost their homes and livelihoods.
Among those impacted are Nazarenes in the area. Windows were blown out in all three nearby Nazarene church buildings and a Nazarene school, and window frames, doors, and other parts of the buildings were damaged. Volunteers gathered the day after the explosion to assess the damage and sweep up broken glass and remove debris.
“We are grateful (though heartbroken for those who are injured) that no staff were here, especially our accountant,” the director of the school said. “His glass door exploded and the glass with big chunks were spread all over the office. Today, we gathered at the school and started cleaning up the glass. Praise God many volunteers came to help out.”
The needs in the city are enormous, and two Nazarene crisis teams have already been mobilized to help those who are most in need. They are focusing on cleaning up broken glass and debris from people’s homes, helping with urgent transportation needs, and distributing food. The church is also exploring ways to support those who cannot return to their homes and have nowhere to live. In addition, two young boys from one of the Nazarene educational programs were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. Both are in stable condition.
The city-wide catastrophe comes in the midst of a crippling economic crisis, with rising unemployment and increased food insecurity across the country. Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown restrictions, the impact on life in this city is devastating. Even before the explosion, there were shortages of essential products like bread and medicine.
“We can’t really bear much more,” said the district superintendent. “Our people have nothing to eat; how shall we then rebuild the city?”
The Church of the Nazarene has been distributing food to families in need for months and has ongoing educational support for refugees, a long-term project that has been adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both of these projects will continue alongside new responses.
How You Can Help
Pray for those who have lost loved ones. Please pray for those facing loss of homes and livelihoods and for those coping with trauma. Pray for the swift delivery of the supplies and care they need, and pray for those who are hungry and without food. Pray for those who are living in Lebanon as refugees, who already face many obstacles. Pray for others who are also vulnerable, especially senior adults, individuals with disabilities, and people living in poverty. Pray for church leaders and churches responding to the needs around them. To send a prayer or note of encouragement, go to ncm.org/pray.
Churches and individuals around the world can provide support through the Lebanon Crisis Response fund. Donations will be used to alleviate the immediate needs from both the blast and ongoing economic crises as well as long-term response.
For any other country than the USA or Canada, give through your local church or district, designating your gift to Lebanon Crisis Response.