This is Lebanon’s 9/11—a blast that destroyed city blocks, killed hundreds, injured thousands, and left behind inches of toxic dust and devastation of the soul.
The August 4 warehouse explosion in Lebanon’s capital city, once called the Paris of the Middle East, was reputedly sourced in tons of stored ammonium nitrate. The estimated 3.5 magnitude detonation, one of the ten largest blasts ever, was heard in Cyprus, 150 miles out into the Mediterranean Sea.
At the latest count, more than 150 are dead, some 5,000 wounded, and upwards of 300,000 newly homeless.
Unlike 9/11, Beirut’s searing catastrophe was, as far as we know, the outcome of error, not terror.
But the feeling of apocalypse and the emotional impact are the same.
Lebanon is hurting worse than the USA. Yes, America has endured a few difficult months in 2020, but Lebanon is reeling from layered crises:
- Unemployment, raging inflation and currency devaluation, national economic collapse
- Rampant hunger
- 4 million citizens plus 2 million Iraqi, Syrian, and other refugees in a country the size of Connecticut creating their own set of housing and humanitarian extremities
- Recent, violent social unrest
The explosion is on video, so the image will live forever online, perpetuating nightmares. With growing concern for PTSD and other trauma impacts among children as well as adults, people are afraid, anxious. Even Christians, the Church, are asking, “Where is God? Why is he allowing this? Has he forgotten us? What is happening to my country?”
“Why?” this great existential question will now haunt a new generation of Lebanese who cannot remember the Lebanon Civil War of 1975-1990, and it will bring horrors back to those who can.
Status, wealth, education, race, ethnicity, gender, all are affected; every level, sector, and faction in society. The rescue will take days; recovery years.
While SAT-7 is grateful no SAT-7 staff were hurt, and all are accounted for, all of them have family and friends directly affected. SAT-7 studios suffered minimal and minor damage, e.g., taking out a few doors, and nearly all staff members’ homes or apartments were damaged.
SAT-7’s recently retired, long-time International Council chair, Rev. Dr. Habib Badr’s church, apartment, and office—less than one mile from the port—suffered considerable damage. He and his wife are shaken but safe.
In the midst of all this, Dr. Badr, senior pastor of the National Evangelical Church of Beirut, conducted two funerals, neither demise due to the blast, in area hospitals because the church and local homes were unsafe.
The day after the explosion, SAT-7 programmed Lebanon: Pain and Hope from the Beirut studios with two area pastors who discussed the crises and offering Christian counsel and perspective.
SAT-7 will continue to air “crisis response” programming, as it has done since March 2020, developing and airing some 42 programs providing information and encouragement re COVID-19.
Lebanon is a small but very important country in the Middle East and North Africa. While certain groups function there that many in the West do not appreciate, as might be said of any country, still, Lebanon is a country whose residents enjoy religious liberty. This is incredibly significant and precious in this region of the world. If somehow, God forbid, the Lebanese would lose their religious liberty it would be a blow the Church throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Perhaps it is important to remember? Satan is alive and well. He is the Destroyer, the Prince of the Air, a Lion who devours. He is attacking families and nations.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:7-11
Our Lebanese friends are saying, “Lebanon needs a miracle.”
God willing, SAT-7 will be able to help direct people to the Lord, the source of every good and perfect gift.
Pray for Lebanon.
Pray God will preserve Lebanon as a bastion of freedom of religion in the Middle East and North Africa.
Pray God will turn evil to good and fulfill His purposes in this beautiful country.
Pray SAT-7 will be used mightily, along with the Christian Church in Lebanon, in this Esther moment “for such a time as this.”
If you desire to give toward SAT-7’s evangelism, discipleship, and ministry of hope, consider the Lebanese Crisis Fund.
Dr. Rex Rogers
President, SAT-7 USA