Today we participated in a historical event. Four female pastors, two Americans, and two Lebanese stood together and served communion. Earlier this year, these two pastors received the honor of being the first females to be ordained in the Middle East. It was emotional, lots of tears and lots of photos! The message Reverend Najla Kassab sends home to America, “Convey our love to your churches and thank them for their prayers”.
We represented seven churches from the United States, visiting different churches throughout Lebanon. What we learned is there is only one church, with the same ministry ….love and service!
God bless, Syria, Lebanon, and the United States of America. God bless you and your family!
It was a remarkable day! A cloud like fine mist came rolling in from the sky and sat right on the mountain tops where we are staying. It was like sitting in a cloud, I have never seen anything quite like it!
It was another great day of study, fellowship, and learning. We are beginning to form relationships and bonds with many of these women. It’s hard to believe next week we will be across the world from each other!
Tonight is the beginning of the close of our conference. At 2:00 am, 14 women will board the bus to return to Aleppo, Syria. They are leaving in the dark as it is a very long and dangerous return to their home. Please pray for their safety! Just a reminder how important this time of peace, calm, safety, time with friends, worship, prayer has been.
Today’s scripture teaches us that we can not do this alone, we are all without a home until we abide in him.
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
The more time we spend here at peaceful Dhour Shoueir with our Syrian and Lebanese Christian sisters, the deeper our conversations, the better we get to know each other and the more familiar these Arabic names become.
Everyone has a story. We all have a story!
We awoke this morning to fantastic news!! Her daughter, Amanda, is engaged! Praise God and blessings on the marriage of Amanda and Matt! (We found your venue today!!).
The beautiful lady in the white dress told us her story today after a delicious and plentiful lunch…and dancing:
She and her husband, who is a physician in Damascus, told us that on one day, four bombs dropped in her neighborhood. She saw her neighbors across the street hit. Her windows were blown out. She is happy that her grown sons have gotten out of Syria. She said that she prays, “God, why is this happening? I know you see and I know you have a plan. Please let us live.” She said, “We pray, we laugh, we cry…all at the same time. But today…we dance!”
This beautiful lady lives in Homs with her pastor husband and twelve-year-old son. (Feel free to click on the map to see where in Syria this city, which is larger than Dubai, is located.)
Micheline and her husband choose to stay in Homs, even though it is destroyed by bombing, to serve the poor with food distribution, etc. Tonight, on the front porch, she told us about her new idea! She found a space to rent and open a bakery for the widows in her church to earn money by baking. Many women have lost their husbands and sons in the war. She will get a group to paint the space and fix it up, find a generator, refrigerator, and whatever else it takes to open for business. The brilliant idea is to make sandwich rolls. These cannot be obtained nearby. Also, they hope to make communion bread for churches.
The Presbyterian churches of Syria and Lebanon are very close and supportive of each other. They are very organized into a group called a synod. The synod is giving them a bit of money at first to help get this up and going.
I’m amazed at the joy she has when she explains serving others. She said she has always loved working in the church.
Well, it’s the third day at our women’s conference and the world is sure getting smaller! Pam was enjoying breakfast and a beautiful Syrian woman shared that her son has just moved to Houston. He is looking for a home church and visited First Presbyterian Church Houston. Pam excitedly explained her daughter, Kathryn, also attends FPC. ( Kathryn has been attending FPC for about a year, is very involved in the activities, and made several friends.)
Pam is arranging for the two to meet and worship together!
This morning we were introduced to two beautiful women, both Muslim Syrian refugees that found a home in Tyre, Lebanon.
Suzanne told a tragic story of while she was out, her home was bombed and entire family killed. Alone and afraid, she fled to Lebanon. A Muslim family took her in and provided shelter. Although she was Muslim, she turned to the church for help. The Presbyterian church in Tyre creates a relationship with refugees. They provide education for refugee children and also teach the women skills like sewing and cosmetology so they can care for themselves.
“Don’t give them fish, but teach them to fish.”
Suzanne credits the love of Christ has changed her, and that it is also changing the family she is living with.
Our day has been both educational and fun!
We have attended excellent lectures about women’s changing roles that have sparked some very lively conversation!
We ended the day with a craft that our group hosted, Jewelry Making. We found that you don’t have to speak the same language to laugh, create, and enjoy each other!
A new commandment I give to you, that you Love one another just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.