BEIRUT EXPLOSION

Thanks to Barnabas supporters, urgent aid arrived immediately for affected Christians in Lebanon

On 4 August an immense explosion rocked Beirut when about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertiliser exploded in a warehouse in the port area of the city killing at least 160 people and injuring about 5,000. Lebanon is no stranger to conflict and explosions are almost routine. But this blast, the equivalent of a small nuclear weapon, exceeded anything seen previously in the country. Hundreds of thousands were made homeless.

When the disaster struck, Lebanon was struggling with economic and political problems as well as the Covid crisis. The government had defaulted on its debt. The currency and economy were sliding, as banks struggled to cover people’s deposits. With a poverty rate estimated to exceed 50%, the country’s population was already desperate.

Four Christian neighbourhoods among the worst affected

For poor Christians in the capital and nearby, the explosion was catastrophic. The blast wave flattened the port area and apartments in the nearby crowded neighbourhoods crumbled. Four of the five neighbourhoods worst affected are predominantly Christian. Damage was caused to buildings as much as 26 km away. Businesses and homes were damaged or destroyed and the infrastructure of a large part of the city was demolished.

Immediate help reached shocked and desperate Christians

Barnabas Fund partners in Lebanon responded immediately to help with critical needs including food, medical support and basic home security repairs. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Barnabas has sent just over £203,000 ($260,500; €222,600) in emergency relief aid support (at the time of writing), starting in first few days after the explosion. Help was targeted especially to help vulnerable people and on repair work to make homes safe and secure.

Man carrying a girl after explosion

Christians in Lebanon were already desperate due to economic crisis and Covid-19, even before the explosion on 4 August devastated Beirut, destroying vital stores of grain and damaging houses in a wide radius

Christians in Lebanon were already desperate due to economic crisis and Covid-19, even before the explosion on 4 August devastated Beirut, destroying vital stores of grain and damaging houses in a wide radius

Barnabas has sent just over £203,000 ($260,500; €222,600) in emergency relief aid

Support for vulnerable secret believers

Converts from Islam to Christianity live in great insecurity in a country torn by political and sectarian strife and were particularly at risk. Some of the Muslim-background believers from nearby countries who Barnabas helped, cannot receive other aid because coming forward would reveal the fact that they were converts from Islam, thus endangering themselves. We praise the Lord that, because Barnabas partners are already working with these converts, aid could rapidly reach these most needy brothers and sisters.

Beirut is home to many Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria and helping them was also a high priority.

£23,300 ($30,000; €25,700) from Barnabas supporters is helping to repair 60 Christian homes, at an average cost of around £390 ($500; €430) each.

A typical food aid programme costs £27 ($35; €30) per month per family. Many homes were wrecked by the explosion. Support was sent to help repair doors and windows, making homes safe and secure for many vulnerable Christian families.

Many Christians were among the estimated 5,000 people injured in the terrible blast. Flying debris scattered for miles across the densely populated city. “Your prayers … give us a lot of strength so we can absorb the shock and do our best to pass on this spirit to others around us,” wrote another Lebanese Christian leader soon after the massive explosion in Beirut in August. “People here are so sad and angry and it is difficult for them to just add on a big catastrophe of this size on top of all the previous ones accumulating over the years!!! Worst of all were the events in 2019 and 2020 starting with the revolution, the economic crisis and bank collapse, Covid-19 and now the explosion.”

Many Christians were among the estimated 5,000 people injured in the terrible blast. Flying debris scattered for miles across the densely populated city. “Your prayers … give us a lot of strength so we can absorb the shock and do our best to pass on this spirit to others around us,” wrote another Lebanese Christian leader soon after the massive explosion in Beirut in August. “People here are so sad and angry and it is difficult for them to just add on a big catastrophe of this size on top of all the previous ones accumulating over the years!!! Worst of all were the events in 2019 and 2020 starting with the revolution, the economic crisis and bank collapse, Covid-19 and now the explosion.”

Left: Many hands make light work of preparing urgent food aid parcels for hungry victims. Food parcels contained a well-balanced range of nutritious and familiar foods, plus two hygiene items. Middle: Many damaged homes were left without windows or secure doors. Barnabas supported urgent basic repairs to make houses safe and secure for families Right Top: A traumatised Beirut resident is comforted after the terrible explosion that shook her city. Right Bottom: A church distribution team in prayer before taking water and food to Christians affected by the terrible event in Beirut

Left: Many hands make light work of preparing urgent food aid parcels for hungry victims. Food parcels contained a well-balanced range of nutritious and familiar foods, plus two hygiene items. Middle: Many damaged homes were left without windows or secure doors. Barnabas supported urgent basic repairs to make houses safe and secure for families Right Top: A traumatised Beirut resident is comforted after the terrible explosion that shook her city. Right Bottom: A church distribution team in prayer before taking water and food to Christians affected by the terrible event in Beirut

An update from one of our project partners:
overwhelming need growing in troubled Lebanon

“Where we come from it is disasters on all levels! The sanctions hit the economy in such a way that made it collapse! No fuel … means no electricity, no bread, no cars to move and no transport of goods,” came the words of Lebanese Christian leader to Barnabas in late September. At the time of writing, coronavirus was also hitting Lebanon very hard, affecting the lives of all people and Christians in particular. He explained that bread was being strictly rationed as well as rice, sugar, vegetable oil, and other staples. Medicine was also scarce, and very expensive if it can be found at all.

In midst of multiple crises, many Lebanese, including Christians, are considering leaving the country. Since the August explosion, many who have a second non-Lebanese passport started leaving or plan to leave because they can see no hope for their children in Lebanon.

The Christian area of Bourj Hammoud, near the epicentre of the blast, is one of four of Eastern Beirut’s Christian neighbourhoods among the five worst affected in the city. Church buildings and Christian ministries were also damaged

The Christian area of Bourj Hammoud, near the epicentre of the blast, is one of four of Eastern Beirut’s Christian neighbourhoods among the five worst affected in the city. Church buildings and Christian ministries were also damaged

The Christian area of Bourj Hammoud, near the epicentre of the blast, is one of four of Eastern Beirut’s Christian neighbourhoods among the five worst affected in the city. Church buildings and Christian ministries were also damaged

Please help Christians affected by this disaster