Beirut Explosion – God at Work
by Renod Bejjani
Last week, we watched in horror, helpless as the world’s third largest explosion erupted in Lebanon. Since then, Karen and I have spoken with many friends and relatives who live in and around the area. While the Beirut explosion was evil, God is at work. Be encouraged by this true story, just one of thousands like it, coming from the heart of Lebanon.
A Day Like Any Other
Just like every afternoon in Beirut’s busy seaport, my friend Adnan* finished his workday and hopped into his old, beat-up Peugeot to drive home. Three miles away, he stopped to check-in on his aging parents. Mulling over his day, Adnan maneuvered his car into a tight parking space on the crowded residential street encompassed by six-story apartment buildings. Once parked, Adnan stepped out onto the street. Reaching to close the car door – BOOM – Adnan was hurled into the air like a rag doll then slammed into the ground.
Glass and debris started falling all around him. Stunned, he quickly rolled under his Peugeot for safety. That old car served as a protective shield while glass and debris from surrounding apartment buildings pummeled it.
I can only imagine how Adnan felt as he huddled under that car while glass rained down. Sirens blared. People screamed. His eardrums felt as if they’d exploded. It seemed the world had come to an end. How was wife, Jamila, and their children? What about his parents?
“Was the country at war again?”
When the debris finally stopped falling, Adnan used his bare hands to carefully make his way out from under his car. Bloodied, dazed and confused, he stared in absolute disbelief.
It was unimaginable. Every single car on the street was buried under glass and debris. His own car was totaled. One nearby apartment building was decimated.
“What happened to my family?”
Adnan immediately thought of his wife, Jamila, and his children just five miles away. What had happened to them, to their own apartment? He frantically tried calling her, yet cell service was down. No one could get through.
Gingerly, he picked his way through the rubble and debris, up the building’s apartment stairs to find his parents. While they were physically fine, they were in shock from the explosion. His mother was wailing, terrified for him, her children and grandchildren.
Long Walk Home
Sirens never stopped blaring. Glass and debris covered all things. Some apartment buildings were
decimated. People were bloodied, crying, praying to god as they knew him while fearing more explosions.
Hundreds of people were walking, making their way somewhere, trying to connect with loved ones on their cell phones. Adnan feared the worst for his wife and children.
When you don’t walk with Jesus regularly, and a crisis comes, it can be a moment of reckoning. This was Adnan’s reckoning.
For the first time in a long time, he prayed to god as he knew him.
God at Work
God was at work in that Beirut explosion, working through the evil situation to bring good. Adnan was deeply relieved to discover his children safe and his apartment building still standing. Yet there was no sign of his wife, Jamila, who worked five miles away in an office building seven miles from the seaport. Adnan held his children tightly, fearing the worst, when Jamila miraculously appeared.
Like Adnan, Jamila had walked home. She’d been working alone inside her cubicle on the fourth floor of her office building. As she talked on the phone with a client, the explosion had ripped through her office building. Every single window in her office shattered, except one – the window behind her. The sturdy, three-sided cubical wall acted as a protective shield as glass and other debris whipped all around her.
After the explosion, Jamila walked out of her office building in shock, dazed and confused, along with all the other people spilling out onto the street. Her cell phone didn’t work, and she couldn’t find a cab ride home. So, she walked. And just like Adnan, it was the longest hour of her life.
Listen with Love
Late Tuesday evening, my time in America (Wednesday morning Lebanon-time,) I was finally able to get through to speak with many friends and family members in Lebanon. I listened as Adnan and Jamila and many others recounted their traumatic experiences.
While 19% of the population of Beirut are now homeless, Adnan and Jamila are grateful to still have a home. They’re also grateful to have survived the explosion with only minor physical injuries.
The people in Lebanon, like Adnan and Jamila, were already in a terrible situation before the explosion, suffering from the nation’s appalling political turmoil and dire financial situation made worse from the pandemic. Now, add the Beirut explosion. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Over 300,000 are homeless. 75% of the people are now at poverty level. Tens of thousands of men and women are unemployed wondering where their next meal will come from, how they’ll be able to afford home repairs, and how they’ll provide for their families going forward. While the Beirut explosion has made the situation seem hopeless, God is at work. Compelled by the love of Christ, I wired money to help.
Sharing Hope from Scripture
Like many I spoke with there, Adnan and Jamila sounded traumatized and hopeless. As they wept, I wept with them. I listened as they shared their remarkable stories, their grief and deep concerns for the future. When appropriate, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, I shared hope through Scripture like this:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans [8:35] and 37-39
Sharing the Gospel
They clung to the Word and wondered about this love of God and of Jesus. So, I shared a few more verses, like this one:
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Pray with Them
I offered to pray with them in the name of Jesus, while pointing out that He is alive and at the right hand of God, interceding for them (Romans [8:34].) They said “Yes,” and we prayed together. Then I invited them to connect with other Believers in their area of Beirut.
In the wake of the Beirut explosion, God is at work, using many ordinary everyday Believers like me as instruments of redemption in His hands.
Lessons from Lebanon
While you may not have family or friends in Beirut who’ve experienced these traumatic things, you do likely know someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus as Lord as Savior, who might be feeling isolated, overwhelmed, or struggling financially from the pandemic.
God is not far from them because you are there. Are you willing to point them to Him?
- Pray. Tell the Lord you’re willing to be used by Him as an instrument of His transforming love.
- Grieve with those who are hurting. As prompted by the Holy Spirit, share hope through Scripture.
- Learn how to share your faith with one easy-to-remember sentence.
- Give to help iHOPE inspire and empower more Believers to share the eternal hope of Jesus locally and globally.
Note: Names have been changed to protect identities.