Lebanon, Middle East

LEB01 - Boucheriyeh Refugee Support and Intervention: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: February 28, 2023

Report from BHW Middle East Partnership Facilitator Following Visit

I spent two days with Bassam in December 2022. 

Recent Events


There have been many issues they have had to deal with, all at the same time:
1) The ongoing impact on people’s lives following the explosion;
2) The financial situation in Lebanon, though not new, has worsened significantly;
3) A big donor (Murad) that had been assisting their work with refugees (providing food vouchers of US$60 per month to 200 people) suddenly stopped for 3 months. "This was a disaster, and the people were left empty-handed." 

A lot of the people that had been serving stopped going to services at Boucheriyeh and went to other churches. A leading couple at Boucheriyeh were going to leave but in the end, thankfully, stayed on and are serving well. 

With increasing devaluation of the Lebanese pound, the situation of the people they are serving has become worse and worse. They have necessarily become more restricted in what they are able to do for refugee families.


Personal Stories


Myram and her husband Ephraim continue to be a real encouragement. Myram is benefitting from BHW support to assist with her pastoral work with refugees from the Boucheriyeh church fellowship. Approximately two thirds of the BHW budget is to financially support her. She has had an impact on many lives, working very relationally with refugee families, especially women. She is very good in the way she relates to Muslim women, who are disillusioned with Islam and are searching to understand who Jesus really is.


Zelal is a young woman, probably not yet 20, who has become a believer and recently told Bassam she wants to get involved with the DTS at Ain Dara. She attended the session when I was there and shared for a few minutes. I see this as part of Bassam’s discipling of people in order that they become disciple-makers themselves. 


I listened to very moving stories from a number of Syrian refugees. One I found particularly moving. A is a 27 year-old Syrian woman with 5 children. 

"I suffered a lot in Syria and much more when the war started. I am from a conservative Muslim background and I was a good Muslim. But before I met Jesus Christ, I left Islam because I didn’t like it. I started to refuse its ways. I saw bad things in Islam – the killing of men, women and children in the name of Islam. In the past, I loved Syria but when I saw this, I wanted to leave. I came to Lebanon. I had a deep depression in 2015 and took medicine for depression. In 2020, I was introduced to a new woman, a follower of Jesus. I told her, ‘I will not change. This is my situation.’ She told me about Jesus Christ. I didn’t hear what she was saying. I didn’t think about what she was saying. I told her to go away and not come back. 

Later, Myram called me on the phone. I said, ‘I don’t want to speak to you.’ Myram said, ‘I want to share three principles with you: one, you are a sinner; two, Jesus is the only Saviour; three, you have to repent and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.’  I thought about it. Her words entered my heart. These words were very resting to my soul. I had a spiritual change. The first meeting had been on Zoom during Covid. Later we met up. We prayed with three or four people, I accepted Jesus. This was 4 months ago. I have now stopped the medication for depression. I’m very happy inside this good family. I am very happy in Jesus Christ. I know I am going to Jesus; I will have eternal life in Jesus Christ. My life is very nice. Everything changed. I left everything else. I threw away Islam. I am very happy. My husband didn’t say anything, but he saw a change. My brothers know everything about me. They ask me if I am happy that you converted: Yes! They are accepting. The difference between Islam and Christianity is love. Love for one another in the church. If I don’t go to church, they contact me. At home, I read the Bible on the sofa. When I return home, I see my husband reading the Bible."

When asked what her husband sees as different, she replied, "He sees my love. He sees that I have changed spiritually and physically. I used to be nervous. That is gone. I help others. I am humble." 


Plans for the Future

The main additional focus would be the development of the ministry at Ain Dara in the hills above Beirut. The managing of the family property there has been entrusted to Bassam. It is already being used as a base for DTS gatherings. I was present for one of these sessions, led by Bassam. It was very lively, interactive, and lasted for well over an hour. There were very few believers among the dozen or so attending. There was a local Druze person, most others were people of nominal Christian allegiance. Bassam sees this situation as an opportunity for believers from the Boucheriyeh fellowship to get involved, eventually to be trained to lead such a meeting.

Part of what happens when the DTS group meets is the provision of some financial help for the needy people amongst them, especially with supplies of apples, vegetables, and food vouchers. 

Bassam wants to develop the property, getting local people involved in developing the vegetable gardens, planting fruit trees, etc in order to provide for poor people in the area.  Some of this produce is also helping some of the refugees who meet at Boucheriyeh. 


Current Issues and Challenges

Adequately describing life conditions in Lebanon now is impossible. People in their homes at best have stretches of 6 hours a day with no electricity, at worst times they may only have power for an hour a day. Water supply to homes is often very limited. It is normal for people to receive two power bills and two water bills and servicing these and other bills is very difficult, especially for those who have lost jobs. Estimates of unemployment in the country now run at 35%. There are restrictions on how much money people are allowed to withdraw from their bank accounts each month and it is not uncommon that people queue for hours on end, or even days. 

There are 5,000 families that they know about and who they are seeking to help in some way, but their main focus is on a smaller number of people. The seriousness of the financial situation in the country, bad enough for Lebanese, is even greater for Syrian refugees. My sense is that they are focusing on rebuilding the team, and although Bassam seemed a little discouraged by some opposition experienced in recent times, he is still passionate about the work.

Some time ago, Charlie Costa had brought sister Layal to help out at Boucheriyeh and part of the BHW funding was used to support her in that role. However, Layal moved on, actually joining the agency Murad, mentioned above, and then married and recently moved to the States.   


Prayer and Praise Points


1) For the building of the team of people who can be disciple-makers, taking up roles in leading DTS groups and being able to relate the Gospel to Syrian refugees and more nominal Lebanese attending
2) For wisdom regarding which needy people to help within the resources available


1) For those who are exercising leadership and pastoral care, such as Myram and Ephraim, also younger people like Zelal who are willing to learn and stepping up to new tasks
2) Praise for stories like A’s, and many others whose lives have been changed.



A number of times during my short visit, Bassam expressed gratitude for BHW’s ongoing support. When I had listened to a number of people share the story of the change in their lives, physically and spiritually through the ministry, he would say to me, "This is what is happening with the support BHW sends.  Thank you for your prayers. We need more."

The country is in financial chaos. People needs are much greater than before, even for Lebanese, for whom unemployment is in the vicinity of 30-40%. For Syrian refugees, the needs are much more dire.

One thing that I admire about Bassam’s approach to support for the needy is that he does not want only to give them help for their day to day needs. He looks at families, sees that because of their financial challenges they are getting their children of school age to go and get jobs to bring home some money. Bassam is counselling them and seeking to find ways to help them pay for school fees so children can go to school. He realizes that access to education is going to help them develop, be changed in some way. Funds for this are limited so some targeted funding in this area would be great.