Texas Baptists are working in partnership with Health Outreach to the Middle East to provide emergency relief for people in Lebanon affected by the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut.
HOME is a Christian organization that hosts medical clinics across the Middle East, including one in Lebanon. Dr. Issam Raad, president of HOME, also serves as a Texas Baptist pastor at the Arabic Church of Houston and as the chair of the department of infectious diseases at MD Anderson.
Gifts given through the Baptist General Convention of Texas will go directly to support the work HOME is providing on the ground to those impacted by the disaster.
An explosion at the port in Beirut Aug. 4 caused widespread devastation in the city, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Beirut citizens have had their homes destroyed or badly damaged by the explosion.
HOME relieves pressure on crowded hospitals
The HOME clinic, located in a suburb of Beirut, has continued to provide support to the city despite damage and injuries within its walls. Following the explosion, doctors took to the streets, bandaging the injured and suturing wounds, Raad said.
In the aftermath, HOME personnel have driven a mobile clinic around the city and distributed supplies. They are also setting up tents on the streets for those who have been displaced and giving away bags of first-aid supplies, canned goods and Bibles.
HOME is working to relieve the pressure off the hospitals and show God’s love and light in a hurting city, Raad explained.
In addition to providing financial support, Raad asked Texas Baptists churches to pray for HOME. Its clinic was badly damaged in the explosion. Dr. Riad Sarkis, founding president of HOME Lebanon, sustained multiple injuries, though he is now back at work, helping others. Raad also asked for prayers for Lebanon as the nation is dealing with food shortages and political instability.
Lebanon also is struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks. Doctors worry the disaster will hasten the spread of the virus as citizens gathered in large groups following the explosion. Hospitals, already overrun with COVID patients, have little to no space to treat those injured severely. Furthermore, one of the largest hospitals in Beirut was made uninhabitable by the explosion.
One big, diverse family
Mark Heavener, intercultural ministries strategist for Texas Baptists, has been connected with Raad many years. Heavener explained that the devastation in Beirut is comparable to an explosion going off in downtown Houston and damaging buildings in all nine counties of the greater Houston area.
The partnership with HOME “is a real picture of the breadth of the ministry of Texas Baptists intercultural churches,” Heavener said.
“The resources of our intercultural churches touch not just their communities but the world,” Heavener explained. “When there’s a crisis somewhere in the world, we can act immediately because our churches have someone already on the ground.”
Patty Lane, director of intercultural ministries for Texas Baptists, agreed. Many of the Lebanese in Texas Baptists churches have had loved ones injured or affected by the explosion, she noted.
“Texas Baptists are a big, diverse family. We have Lebanese people in our Arabic-speaking churches,” Lane said. “We need to pull together for these church members. We as Texas Baptists should come alongside them as they’re reaching out to their family and their country. We should support them.”