Dear Members and Friends of The Vine Fellowship Church:
God, please, heal our land. These days, I am reminded of the words from II Chronicles 7:14 that says, “ 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This has been my prayer over the past several months as we continue to move through two national crises: the Covid-19 crisis and the racial crisis. Even though I was not yet a teenager, these days bring back memories of the 1960’s- the Vietnam War; the murdering of President John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the racial unrest. I ask you to join me as, together, we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways. God, please, heal our land.
On Tuesday, June 2, Eastminster Presbytery held its first, Zoom presbytery meeting. It was a long meeting (4+ hours) as we heard reports and took action on a motion for the presbytery to make a statement about the recent racial unrest and protesting. We were privileged to hear from Revs. Scott and Elmarie Parker who serve our church in Lebanon. Our church gives mission money to support Elmarie and her work with our national church in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Elmarie reported about the on ongoing political crisis that finds outside political players from the region and the global community that are trying to take advantage of Lebanon’s vulnerability. Food scarcity has multiplied over the past 6 weeks- not because food isn’t available, but because of the economic crisis. People’s purchasing power is 5 times less than it was four months ago. There is food on the shelves but people cannot afford to buy it. Over 50% of the people are under the poverty level.
Over the past several months, people have taken to the streets in protest over the corruption of the government, the economic crisis, fears of starvation, and people inability to work. More recently, different Lebanese political parties are infiltrating the protests with people who are inciting violence with religious overtones. This has not happened in Lebanon for decades and it is a deep concern for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners in Lebanon. This is putting great strain on the Lebanese police and security forces.
We learned from Elmarie that the pastors of our partner church, 3 Pastor’s Pen Continued Cont. from page 2 to the economic crisis, have given ½ of their salaries to help feed people in their areas. With over 200,000 refuge children alone, in Beirut, there is a great concern for them and their families. NESSL has initiated a two-prong program: 1) Provide hygiene materials and 2) Provide food security for Syrian and Lebanese families. It was reported that even during the worst times of Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990) people have never suffered to the extent they are today.
Elmarie also shared a written report. What follows is part of this report: Iraq has seen a rise in Covid-19 cases and citizens are demanding the government address its corruption. Iraq’s health care system has been devastated by multiple wars and sanctions over the decades and at this time does not have the capacity to respond to rapid increases of COVID19 cases. So, continuing strict stay-at-home orders is the only way they can control the spread of the virus, which then has deep economic ramifications. And, as is the case everywhere, it is those who are already the most vulnerable who are most deeply impacted by restrictions on work— especially day laborers.
Please continue to pray for our partners who are seeking to respond to the vast needs within their contexts at this incredibly challenging time. Their work is ranging from addressing food insecurity needs, to providing hygiene supplies and education, to providing funds for emergency health needs and access to medication for chronic health conditions, to supporting their congregations. Please pray for their daily energy, for daily renewal of hope in the face of overwhelming challenges and diminished resources, for perseverance, for creativity, and for enduring love to overcome those forces that seek to divide and cause hatred and strife. We remain so very grateful for your prayer partnership! In Christ’s Peace, Elmarie Please pray for the power of God to move in our country, in Lebanon, and around the world. Stay well; stay safe; stay virusfree. And have a good summer.
Yours in Christ and on the Journey together,