by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – While hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are leaving their catastrophically unstable country in search of a better life, Lebanon’s Christians are largely choosing to stay, Christianity Today (CT) reports.
An estimated 380,000 people out of a population of five million have now left Lebanon, a tiny middle-eastern country that is chronically wracked by violence and division, and which is dominated by Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah. In addition to its ongoing problems, the country is currently battling the worst economic crisis it has suffered in 150 years: seventy-eight percent of the population is living in poverty as food prices have increased by 557%, CT reports.
Making up 1% of the general population, the country’s Christian community has also been weighing whether to leave or stay, CT reports. In a recent sermon, Hikmat Kashouh, pastor of Resurrection Church Beirut said: “Ask first, ‘Where can I love the Lord, obey the Lord, and serve the Lord—me and my family?’ Praying faithfully, we may come up with different decisions.”Another pastor, Walid Zailaa of Faith Baptist Church in Mansourieh, called on leaders to stay. “Your presence is important. How can we enact God’s will if you are not here?” Zailaa preached. “If you want to search for a better life for yourself and your children, it is your right. But it says to God, ‘You are not able to provide for me in Lebanon.’”
Although finances are a major area of difficulty as churches and congregations struggle to survive, the evangelical community is staying for the most part, CT reports. The Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS) still has its 35 staff members, the Presbyterian synod still has 14 pastors in the country, and the Baptist convention has 21 pastors.
“When you know your purpose, it is less easy to jump on a plane for a better life,” Tony Skaff, pastor of Badaro Baptist Church in Beirut told CT. “We believe ours is to be here as a church, serving Lebanon and the Middle East.”
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