When the port explosion ripped through Beirut on August 4, the nearby building of the Church of God should have been full. Instead, it was empty, because hours before, Pastor Saeed Deeb felt convicted to send everybody home. On SAT-7 ARABIC, he shares his story of the divine prompt that protected his congregation.
“The ceiling had collapsed. The glass windows and frames had been flung from one side of the room to the other. Everything in between was destroyed from the impact. If the children, or anyone else, had been there – they wouldn’t have survived,” says Rev. Saeed Deeb, Senior Pastor at the Church of God.
In a special interview on You Are Not Alone, the pastor explains that earlier that day, he and many others were at the church, meeting to pray, teach Bible classes for groups of children, and prepare food to serve needy and refugee families in the area. But to Pastor Deeb, something did not feel right.
“On that day, I felt a heaviness in my heart. I felt worried,” he remembers. “I felt that we were all tired, and we had to close early. This was a strange and unusual feeling. I felt that everyone had to go home and rest.” At first, Pastor Deeb explains, he was unsure whether to follow this feeling. “But I reasoned that rest is from the Lord. The Lord wants us to rest.” So, driven by what he describes as the prompt of the Holy Spirit telling him to “go, go, go,” he sent everyone home.
At that point, as many as 200 children were at the church, along with 34 staff members, and activities were scheduled all afternoon and evening. “I pushed them to leave. The more I asked them to go, the more intense that feeling inside me became. I told them to go and rest at home, and not come back until the Sunday,” he says. When staff were reluctant, Pastor Deeb closed their computers down for them.
After the explosion that evening, he returned to the church to find the road closed due to collapsed buildings, and he saw scenes of destruction and debris inside. His actions had spared the congregation from being present when the church sustained heavy damage, most likely saving lives.
Pastor Deeb also shares his belief that he was separately saved by divine providence. While he had committed that evening to finishing an errand at the port (where the explosion would take place) he was persuaded by a pastor friend to attend a dinner at his house instead, removing Pastor Deeb from harm’s way.
On You Are Not Alone, Pastor Deeb sends a supportive message to Lebanese viewers, asking survivors to have faith and turn to the Lord. “Glorify Him and ask to see His presence in your life. The Lord says, ‘I am with you.’ He won’t forget us,” he encourages them. “Even though things look bad and the wheat stocks are gone, don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope.”
After the explosion, Pastor Deeb sent a message to the Syrian refugee and other needy families the church supports, saying that food distribution would still happen as usual.
“This was my first instruction,” he says. “We used to give out 200 food packs before the explosion. The day after, we gave out 700. We are cleaning up with one hand and feeding people with the other. And we will continue.”
It’s not too late to send in financial support to help with recovery efforts in Beirut that are still ongoing, even a month after the explosion. You can give at www.sat7usa.org/give, specifying in the project designation box the “Lebanese Crisis Fund.” Thank you.