Lebanon Fundraiser 2021…it’s not too late to make a difference
On Sunday, April 18th, 2021, we held our annual missions fundraiser in support of our partnership with Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM), the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD), and the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS).
The Botros family, our missions partners in Lebanon, joined us from Beirut, via Zoom. Dr. Botros spoke in the morning service and he and his family answered questions afterwards during our virtual luncheon. We heard moving stories about the difficult conditions in Lebanon and the role of the LSESD in helping to meet the challenging needs.
Here are some highlights of the luncheon:
- The Botros family answered questions that had been submitted beforehand, and also some that were asked during the luncheon. Each member of the family took part in this, thus allowing us to see the situation from each of their viewpoints, and to get a feel for what their lives are like. Timmy and Nathaniel shared that, even though their schooling is online at this time, they appreciate that they are able to meet with friends about once a week to play football in the park.
- Lebanon has been without a government since their prime minister resigned in October, 2020. The absence of a government has created more challenges for the Lebanese and impacts the people’s lives in many different ways.
- We also heard about the major economic issues that the Lebanese are facing, such as soaring inflation. Despite strict lockdowns and fears of COVID-19, many must work in order to feed their families. Lebanon does not have the safety nets that Canada has.
- Another situation that is having a major impact on the Lebanese is the huge number of Syrian refugees living in their midst.
- We watched a video, “Ministry of Presence in the time of Covid,” which speaks of some of the hardships brought on by COVID-19 and what the LSESD is doing to meet the many, challenging needs, including delivering nutritional meals to vulnerable families, visiting them through phone calls, and praying for them.
- We heard an informative report from Heather Russell-MacLean. She shared:
- A brief portion of Lebanon’s history: Against the backdrop of the legacy of war and civil unrest, the challenges faced by the Lebanese have been exacerbated and multiplied by COVID-19, the financial crisis, and the massive port explosion of last August.
- Another part of Lebanon’s history is the major impact that refugees have had on the Lebanese. A small country of 4 million people, Lebanon had already welcomed hundreds of Palestinian refugees in the 1940s and on through the 20th century. With the onset of the civil war in Syria in the early part of this century, over a million Syrians fled for their lives into Lebanese cities and mountains. This massive influx of people drove wages down, the price of goods and rent up, and put pressure on schools and health systems. Added to these tensions was the reality that Syrian had invaded and occupied Lebanon for over 20 years. Churches have struggled to know what to do, many choosing to help their former enemies.
- An overview of the LSESD – their organizational structure and the various areas that they are involved in, in ministering to the people of Lebanon, including the Syrian refugees. These areas include children’s education in a Christian context, seminary education for students from the Middle East and North Africa, relief and development in partnership with local churches and organizations to support vulnerable families, and ministry to vulnerable children and youth.
- Laureen Snook showed us photos from the SENT team’s trip to Lebanon in 2019. She also shared how she was impacted by her experiences on the trip.
Supporting the work of the CBM in Lebanon makes a lot of sense! “The infrastructure is already there, so our role is to pray, to learn, and to donate. This is how each and every one of us, can make a tangible difference.” (Heather RM)
Last year, our church raised $9,633 from our Lebanon fundraiser. Our target for this year was $9,000 – and we challenged our congregation to see if we could beat it. As of May 3, our online giving had reached $3,560 for this year, while giving received through First Baptist Regina has totalled $14,085. Our grand total from this year’s fundraiser is thus $17,645 – nearly double our goal! Thank you to all of our members whose generosity has made this possible.
Ways to give:
- Online with a credit card: https://www.givetogo.org/team/FBCRegina
- Mail, or drop off, your donation to First Baptist Church, 2241 Victoria Ave, Regina SK S4P 0S4. (Please do not leave cash in the mailbox.) If you require an in-person pick up, call the church at (306) 359-1450.
Make cheques out to “CBM”
Note “SENT Lebanon” in the memo line or on the envelope
- To set up monthly automatic donations, please either:
- Phone Barb Keys at CBM at 905-821-3533, who will take your information and get it set up properly.
- Go to the CMB donations page at https://www.cbmin.org/donate/. Select, monthly, where most needed, input the desired amount, and then click add to donation. When entering billing information on the next page there is a box titled “Additional Information” Please write in “Lebanon – First Baptist Regina Partnership” and it will be set up properly.
Where your gift goes:
First Baptist Church Regina has an ongoing commitment to our partnership through Canadian Baptist Ministries with the work in Lebanon in three areas:
- Botros Team Support
Support Emad and Almess Botros in their ministry in Lebanon. Emad is an Assistant Professor in the areas of Old Testament and Islamic Studies at ABTS, where he trains and equips students for ministry across the Middle East and North Africa.
- Middle East Consultation
These funds normally go to cover registration and travel cost for non-western participants at the Middle East Consultation (MEC) at ABTS. Through this support, these church leaders and pastors are able to travel to Lebanon, attend the MEC, and then return to their home country and ministry. Note: During COVID-19, MEC 2020 was held online. Funds helped with the cost of speakers, planning, etc.
- Syrian Refugee Support
These funds make it possible for Syrian refugee children to participate in camp ministry in Zahle. Increasing each child’s self-esteem and building strong relationships with them, are key aims of the ministry. Camps held all year round include music, a Bible message, games and crafts. Children also go on visits to farms and other places they would not normally go to in order to make them feel special. Note: During COVID-19, funds may be used for other forms of refugee support.
Note from CBM: The camp ministry continues to adapt to the new reality in Lebanon. Given all the factors (Explosion, Financial Crisis, Political Instability, and COVID-19), they are not holding in-person camps until it is safe to do so. Instead, they are reaching out to parents and children in their homes. They have an online ministry through WhatsApp and other means, and also are delivering “camp-in-a-box” resources to families. Our Lebanese friends are great examples of adapting ministry in light of the current context.
Here is brief snapshot from CBM of the triple crisis in Lebanon, and the church’s ministry in the midst of it all. (June, 2020)
Watch for more highlights in the newsletter and on the website in days to come!
Middle East Consultation
The 2020 Middle East Consultation was originally scheduled for June 2020. Due to the COVID pandemic, this event was replaced by Middle East Conversations – a series of monthly webinars.
- June 2020: A Dynamic Pause: Reflections on Simplicity, Purpose, and Transformation in this Time of Pandemic.
- July 2020: COVID-19 and Theological Education in the Middle Eastern Context: Between Mounting Challenges and Emerging Opportunities.
- August 2020: No Space or New Space? Navigating Exceptional Times as the New Normal for the Local Church
- September 2020: Rethinking Missions During Pandemic: Considerations from the Middle East
- October 2020: Lebanon’s Year of Meltdown: Faith Refined
- December 2020: The Religious Other: Toward a Biblical Understanding of Islam, the Qur’an and Muhammad
Read more about these webinars here: https://abtslebanon.org/mec-2020/
SENT to Lebanon Team
We traveled June 14-27, 2019 to visit our Lebanese partners and ministries. Meet our SENT team.
The trip itinerary included the Middle East Consultation in Beirut on the theme “Thinking Biblically about Muslims, Mohammad and the Qur’an.” The team also got to know our mission partners, Emad & Almess Botros, their sons, Timothy and Nathaniel, and to see firsthand some of their ministries with students at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), with churches and with refugees. The team also met CBM field staff Elie and Mireille Haddad (ABTS president), and Joe and Alexandra Bridi, and visited churches ministering to refugees in several Lebanese cities.
Here is a description of the ministry exchange CBM prepared for us: SENT teams description.
For more information on the work of ABTS seminary: Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS)
Due to the COVID pandemic, First Baptist Church Regina has not been able to plan for another SENT trip to Lebanon. We are hoping to begin planning for a future trip in 2022 or 2023.