Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Samaritan's Purse Reaches Out to Needy in War-Torn Lebanon

Samaritan's Purse Reaches Out to Needy in War-Torn Lebanon:
The Samaritan's Purse ministry is helping families fleeing homes in southern Lebanon as fighting escalates between Israel and Hezbollah terrorists. More than half a million people have been displaced from the region since the fighting began two weeks ago.

Many of the families displaced by the violence have taken shelter in schools, public buildings or out in the open. Samaritan's Purse is working through its ministry partners in the area to provide food, cooking utensils, blankets, and other needed items to destitute families.

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Ken Isaacs of Samaritan's Purse says the situation in southern Lebanon is grave. "Materials, resources, food coming into the country -- that's all stopped now," he notes. "Some of the reports I have read said it's estimated that the country has enough food in the borders to last for about four to six weeks right now."

Meanwhile, Isaacs says, the costs of food and many other daily necessities have risen dramatically due to the conflict. "The prices of everything have gone up about 500 or 600 percent," he observes, "and a lot of commodities now -- I'm talking to Beirut every day -- are simply not available. So it's become a very tight market to buy anything to help people with."

Israel's Air Force and Navy have hit targets in Beirut, effectively shutting down the airport, seaport, and many highways. Christians in Lebanon and Syria expect many more refugees to pour out of southern Lebanon in the coming days, but the exodus has been delayed by clogged roads and blown-up bridges.

But in the midst of what is being called a humanitarian crisis of major proportions, Samaritan's Purse has continued to reach out through its partners to the war-devastated people of southern Lebanon. "Right now," Isaacs notes, "we're supporting a network of six pastors and over 20 volunteers who are working out through the schools."

One thing that has been interesting, the ministry spokesman says, is that "many Muslims have asked, 'Why are you Christians doing this?' -- and it has started a dialog." He says this crisis has softened the hearts of many Muslims in Lebanon to the spiritual truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Also, Isaacs observes, a number of Muslim families have asked for Bibles. "So, where people are asking us for it, we're making that available -- that's up to them," he asserts. "As I said, it's a very difficult situation, and resources are tight right now."

Samaritan's Purse is urging Christian believers in other countries to help by giving generously in support of the outreach efforts, and by praying for the Israeli and Lebanese civilians caught up in this latest conflict in the Holy Land. Also, the ministry's website urges, believers should pray for local Christians as they minister to suffering families, pray that these evangelical workers would be effective in sharing the gospel, and "pray for the peace of Jerusalem."