Little Sprouts of Life Stir the Rubble
September 15, 2020
September 2020 Newsletter: Little Sprouts of Life Stir the Rubble
September 15, 2020

A Gesture of Love: An Interfaith Peacebuilding Project

It is no secret to anyone that Lebanon has been going through unprecedented difficulties as of late. The economic crisis followed by the pandemic have both knocked the wind out of our country’s sails. The people are lost and confused, and their livelihoods are threatened. The members of the steering team of our Friendship Network of Church and Mosque Goers peacebuilding initiative saw that it was necessary to stand together now regardless of religious belonging for the common good. The religious leaders came together in conversation during one of the Network’s meetings and set up a relief project from their own resources to help benefit the most vulnerable. Our partners abroad also pitched in so that the initiative could reach as many people as possible.

In July and then in August, a Christian and a Muslim faith actor who are part of the Friendship Network, accompanied by facilitators from our Institute of Middle East Studies (IMES), jointly distributed relief packages and vouchers to the less advantaged people residing in Tripoli. Even before the pandemic and economic crisis, Tripoli was one of the poorer cities in Lebanon and the past year has hit it hard. The members of the Friendship Network were able to help around 200 families through their efforts. By putting others first, the faith actors worked together for the greater good and solidified relationships between the two sides of a divided society. “In times of crisis, closely-knit communities tend to huddle together and look after the needs among their own,” shared Martin Accad, Director of IMES. “It is a tremendous testimony when people of faith are able to stand back from this natural instinct and then take action together in a way that reflects care for each other’s interests and needs. It shows strength of character and deep faith.”

Our Friendship Network of Church and Mosque Goers is an interfaith peacebuilding initiative that is carried out by our IMES team. The initiative brings local Christian and Muslim leaders and their congregations together in conversation over religious and cultural issues. The Network aims to create a nucleus of good-willed people within churches and mosques in areas where communities are diverse and religiously segregated. From this, we derive joint action by Christians and Muslims within the community for the common good. The initiative comes out of Christ’s calling for us to be peacemakers; “Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NIV).

We are encouraged by the selflessness displayed by the religious leaders. Their actions go to show that, by living sacrificially through the grace of God, people of different belongings are able to come together for the benefit of the broader community.