In This City is a challenge to journey with us in prayer for 12 key cities in 2020. We ask you to commit to praying for fruit that will ripen and bear the seeds for mature, vibrant, and multiplying churches across the Arab world.
Once known as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon, a small country on the Mediterranean coast, west of Syria. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, having been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. The first historical mention of Beirut is in the Amarna letters of Egypt, which date back to the mid-1300s BC.
From 1975 to 1990, Beirut, along with the rest of Lebanon, was devastated by civil war. In 2006, Lebanese civil infrastructure was severely damaged, about 1,200 to 1,300 people were killed, and approximately a million Lebanese were displaced as a result of the conflict with Israel. In recent years, the country has faced more crises, from economic devastation and hunger to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also taken in a considerable number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, adding to the financial strain on the country.
Then, on the 4th August 2020, Beirut suffered a horrific explosion which decimated the downtown area of the city. A warehouse containing ammonium nitrate caught fire and subsequently exploded, killing over 200 people and injuring thousands more.
Beirut is unique in that it is a city divided. It has Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims and Christians, all living in different areas and not mixing. There are only a handful of cities like this worldwide.
Population: 2.2 million
Religions: Muslim (Shia, Sunni, Alawi, Druze) and Christian (including Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Protestant Evangelical, Armenian Orthodox)
Ethnic groups:Arab (95%), Armenian (4%), other (1%)
Geographical size: 26 m² / 67 km²
Location: On a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast
Key historical events: Destroyed by Diodotus Tryphon, 140 BC. Conquered by Romans, 64 BC. Ravaged by earthquake, AD 551. Conquered by Muslims, AD 635. Syrian Protestant College, now American University of Beirut, established 1866. Became capital of (now independent) Lebanon, 1943. Lebanese Civil War, 1975-1990. Prime Minister Rafic Hariri assassinated in 2005, followed by the Cedar Revolution, which led to withdrawal of 14,000 Syrian soldiers.
Many people are thinking or dreaming of leaving Lebanon because of the bad economic and political situation. With one refugee for every four nationals, Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. Up to 300,000 people are now displaced in Beirut after the blast in August.
Most seekers are not in churches because most churches are not welcoming to believers from a Muslim background. Beirut is very segregated, and Muslims and Christians do not really mix. Seekers and believers need established groups and churches that they can join.
Teams are seeking ways to support their community at this time as many people lost homes in the recent blast. Please pray for them as they help with practical needs, seeking to be God’s hands and feet, including at the local hospital. May he show them more ways to bring Christ’s light and hope in these difficult times.
- Pray that God would bring peace and stability to Beirut and the country of Lebanon. Pray against war and conflict.
- Pray for all those affected by the blast in August. Pray for repairs to happen quickly so that people can move back into their homes.
- Pray for all those who are experiencing trauma as a result of the explosion.
- Pray against emotional fatigue. Listening to people’s harrowing stories and trying to bring comfort to those who have been traumatised is draining.
- Pray that church leaders would have the vision to preach the gospel to all Lebanese people.
- Pray that workers would make the most of every opportunity to share Jesus’ love with refugees.
One more thing…
Re-entering Beirut one month from the blast, one team member said:
‘We see the reality of the situation and the tragedy of so many people. We walked around downtown at the weekend and saw how whole neighbourhoods have been destroyed, and how streets that used to buzz with people, restaurants, and cafes are all shut down because of the damage.’
Thank you for praying with us.
Next month we pray for Aden in Yemen.