SOUTHERN LEBANON (BP)–Ruined buildings, their walls peppered by bullets and shrapnel, still mark Lebanon’s landscape a year after the 34-day conflict with Israel ended. Where homes and schools once stood, empty lots remain.
On the surface, it doesn’t appear much different from last summer when Baptist relief workers came to provide medical care for the injured, distribute blankets and heaters, water and food — and Bibles — to those who had been caught in the crossfire.
Rami,* a local believer, remembers that time. He was one of the Lebanese Christians who worked alongside the American volunteers. He was afraid of identifying himself as a Christian in this predominantly Muslim area.
He remembers sitting in a van, afraid to get out, afraid he would jeopardize the safety of his family if he did. He also remembers that the hardest step to take was the first one.
When Baptist workers “asked me to go with them to pass out things, I hesitated a little bit,” he recalled. He feared for the safety of his family. “I didn’t want to be seen going into houses or clinics.
“[But then] I saw these doctors coming from America,” he said. “They left their houses and everything they had to come here, and I’m this close and I didn’t even want to get out of the van.”
Rami prayed that God would give him the courage and faith to help the people who were in need of so much, including — most importantly — the Savior.
Rami accompanied the Baptist physicians into villages where they were the first ones who had come to help. This was the first time he had seen people with that much love. He saw people kiss the hands of the doctors.
“It was a beautiful thing they were doing,” he said of the doctors.
He also found it wasn’t just the villages they helped.
“Not only were they a huge help to the people, but for us [Christians],” he recalled.
An Islamic leader in one of the villages noticed this love, too. He was curious why these strangers from another country would help people they didn’t know. He asked Rami why they were doing this.
Rami simply replied, “Because the Messiah taught us this. I learned it in the Bible.”
An uncommon bond formed between the two men. Over the time Rami and the volunteers worked in the Muslim village, the men became friends.
Months later, a horn caught Rami’s attention as he walked down a road near his home. The car stopped and a man emerged — it was his friend, the Islamic leader.
“He came to me and said, ‘Even if you aren’t working in our village anymore, you need to come back and visit us,'” Rami recounted.
“This may have been the only chance we would get to hand out Bibles,” Rami later said.
“[Offering] tuna is one thing, a heater is one thing” said Rami. “But a Bible is the most important thing.
“If there hadn’t been a war, there wouldn’t have been a chance to take these things along with the Word of God to them,” Rami continued.
“This is the beginning of the real work.”
*Name changed for security reasons.