Today I was invited by Rev. Dr. Habib Badr to preach in the National Evangelical Church in Beirut (NEC) and to meet members of the congregation as far as they have been present. Since the Corona-Pandemic they are broadcasting every service and many members still follow from their homes.
The congregation of the NEC in Beirut is facing a lot of challenges. Due to the economic and political crisis, which worsened after the explosion in the port of Beirut and the Corona crisis, people are leaving the country. Those who are staying back are struggling with the daily cost of life. One member of the congregation told me that his monthly salary in Lebanese Pounds (LBP) once was worth $900. Today is only $90. When we came on Thursday the exchange rate was 22.000 LBP for one US$; today – only 3 days later – it is 22.4000 LBP. The income of the congregation through the Sunday Offerings is going down. Salaries have to be paid and still damages on the church building after the explosion in the harbor have to be done.
In this situation my sermon was about Psalm 46. „God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.“
(the first time when I got an arabic translataion of my sermon)
A view parts of my sermon:
„… The words of the 46th Psalm are words of people who know how much life is threatened. There the sea rages and surges and mountains collapse. Powerful and destructive forces of nature threaten life. And people themselves also destroy life with their violence and their wars. These are primal experiences of mankind. And they are not experiences of distant times, although the words of the ancient prayer are about 2,500 years old. … And unfortunately, what people do to each other – in the wars of this world and in our midst – has not passed away. We are struggling for social cohesion – in a very tense situation. And the challenges this entails are something you experience particularly here in your own country Lebanon. … . In the midst of everything that threatens life, people look for a foothold in God. They look for a safe place. … We need God so that we do not give room to the forces of chaos. God points us to the path of peaceful coexistence between peoples and religions, between people in all their diversity, and between people and nature. … This is also what sustains and holds us together in the International Community of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) when we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our community in the upcoming year: to stand up for one another, to share with one another, to strengthen ourselves in the struggle against the chaotic powers of the world, to bear witness for peaceful coexistence and to stand up for a holistic understanding of witness and service.“
The full service you will find on the YouTube channel of NEC:
For our long relationship and partnership between NEC and EKHN, for our common journey with and in EMS and of course for our personal relationship and friendship I was honored by Habi Badr with a medal which was published on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the congregation in 1998.