Thank you for praying with us for Elias Ghazal from Lebanon.
The Republic of Lebanon is bordered by Syria to the north and the east, Israel to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Once settled by the Ancient Canaanites and Phoenicians, the region later flourished as a Christian center. Today, Lebanon is home to nearly 7 million people, of whom 61% follow Islam, 34% Christianity, and 5% Druze. Since 2019, Lebanon has been facing a severe economic and political crisis, after years of corruption, poor governance, and debt. Vanishing savings, skyrocketing costs, and shortages of food, fuel, medicine, and electricity have caused much suffering. Last week, sectarian violence broke out amid tensions over an official investigation into the August 2020 Beirut port explosion. Join us in praying for peace, relief, sustenance, and hope for the people of Lebanon.
Elias is pursuing a PhD in International Relations at Lancaster University in the UK. His research focuses on sustainable peacebuilding alternatives for the Middle East. While completing his studies, Elias also serves as Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Association for Theological Education (MENATE) and as Programs Manager for the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs. Previously, he taught at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, a Vital SustainAbility partner school, and also directed programs at the seminary’s Institute of Middle East Studies. Elias and his wife Joyce have four children: Lara (7), Karl (5), Sophia (2), and newborn Ruby.
Elias shares the following message:
Thank you in advance for your prayers.
I am currently at Lancaster University finishing a PhD in International Relations. My work explores how religious leaders can contribute to ending sectarianism in Lebanon. Sectarianism (i.e., manipulating religious identities for political gain) is a major problem in Lebanon that impacts all areas of life. Clergy have often been portrayed as part of the problem behind sectarianism, but I am arguing that, to move beyond sectarianism, it is important to engage clergy, albeit non-partisan ones.
Lebanon is undergoing an economic, political, and social meltdown. Since 2019, the Lebanese lira has lost 90% of its value, and people can only access very limited amounts of their money saved in banks. There are power outages, food shortages, soaring unemployment, and worrying political instability. This situation has been dragging on for nearly two years, and it is causing a lot of frustration, anxiety, and mass immigration. International observers consider Lebanon to be in one of the most severe global crises since the mid-nineteenth century.
The political and financial establishment is well-rooted and will not give up power easily. Please pray for God to have mercy on Lebanon and to relieve the suffering. Pray that these difficult circumstances would cause people to turn to God and see Him as the only source of hope. Pray for the Church in Lebanon to be a faithful witness and for God to help Christians to persevere. Pray for God to grant wisdom to church leaders to work together during these exceptional times for the sake of Gospel growth.
Pray for me to finish my PhD well and on time. It’s easy to be distracted by what’s happening in Lebanon and for studies to drag. Pray that I can be available for my family as well, so I do not neglect my role both as a husband and as a father to young children. Pray for us to trust God for the future and post-PhD life. Our heart’s desire is to serve the Arabic Church. Pray for God to open up opportunities to serve Him in the Middle East and North Africa region through my education and experience.