Adventist School Shelters Lebanese Refugees
ore than 250 Lebanese refugees from southern Lebanon have been provided shelter at the Moseitbeh Adventist Secondary School, a 700-pupil school in West Beirut.
Many local schools have opened their doors to provide sanctuary as a result of the weeklong air attacks across the country. "The government is assisting us to secure food and other basic necessities urgently, mindful that there are young children and even babies among the assembled group," says Pastor Levon Maksoudian, president of the East Mediterranean Field, which includes Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Efforts to truck in food and other necessities are hindered by the ever-present threat from fighter jets. "Warplanes are targeting trucks, fearing that they carry Hezbollah rockets. So carrying food and other necessities in such vehicles is almost suicide," says Maksoudian. "For example, in Ashrafiya, a Christian suburb of Beirut, two trucks were targeted by a missile."
"A lot of people are still leaving the country and there has been a run on the stores," says Svein Myklebust, president of Adventist-owned Middle East University in Beirut. "The central bank and the private banks are restricting the outflow of money, so we put the summer school on hold. If need be we will postpone the opening of the new academic year. We still feel safe, but as the country's infrastructure slowly crumbles and your movements become restricted, you feel a certain amount of frustration. One can only hope and pray that the people capable of cooling things down will come to their senses."
The Adventist Church has evacuated expatriate workers under advice from embassies and consulates. "Our expatriates have expressed strong reluctance to abandon the people whom they have been called to serve at such a critical period in Lebanon's history, but we are powerless to act any differently in such a crisis," says Dr. Kjell Aune, Middle East Union president.
He also noted that key Adventist institutions have additional security.
Meanwhile, the Adventist Youth Federation has initiated nightly prayer services at the Middle East University that are open to the public. "It is encouraging to sense the courage of the people, and that one of their ways of getting through this period is by meeting for daily prayer sessions," says Dr Aune.
In Jerusalem, Richard Elofer, president of the Israel Field, reported that there were no casualties among the 300 Seventh-day Adventists living in northern Israel. Some of them were evacuated, others went to Tel Aviv where they found shelter in the premises of the church or in the homes of fellow members. Still others were accommodated in private homes in Ahdod, Ashkelon, and Beer Sheva.
The conflicts are taking their toll on the work of the church. However, Elofer assured the remaining church members in the north that contact would be maintained.
"Let us continue to pray for peace, for the people of Israel, Lebanon, and the Gaza, asking God to give wisdom to the leaders of these countries in order to find a political solution to the current conflict," Elofer said.
-- Middle EastUnion and Trans-European Division
A Statement on the Middle East Crisis
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND -- “I share the alarm and sadness of our church members in Israel and Lebanon, many of whom have had to leave their homes and flee for their lives. We entrust them and all other people who mourn the loss of lives and struggle for their own survival, wherever they may be, into God’s hands and pray for their safety and for the war to cease.
We are in close contact with our church in the affected countries and are working on plans and initiatives to help where we can. For the Middle East in general, I pray that the dream of peace will not be shattered by these events. People must not lose hope. And our church has an important role to bring new hope to people. I encourage all of us to pray for our brothers and sisters in all the countries affected by war in the Middle East. Their suffering is our suffering. And may this time of crisis strengthen our hope in the soon coming of our Lord.”
President of the Trans-European Division --TED News