We are on the ground in Beirut, Lebanon seeking to help those affected by the enormous explosion this week that destroyed many parts of the city.
Beirut is no stranger to difficult times. But the blast at the port, caused by a fire igniting some 2,700 tons of volatile ammonium nitrate, was an explosion of the magnitude that even those who lived through the multiple wars here say they never experienced before. If you have not seen this explosion in the news yet to understand the sheer size of it, you can see it here in 4K on amateur video shot by a local Lebanese man.
The blast killed over 150 people and injured 6,000. Dozens are still missing and likely dead. Infrastructure is laid waste. At least four major hospitals were knocked out of commission by the blast. The port is completely leveled. It used to be the lifeline for food and medicine imports to the country. The country’s grain silos, those big white structures in the pictures of the port, are collapsing. 85% of the grain reserves in Lebanon are lost, giving the country about a month of this staple item left.
The blast also destroyed major parts of a very densely populated part of the city. Thousands of buildings are gutted. Gaping, jagged holes remain where windows once stood. Rubble fills the streets from collapsed walls and shattered store fronts. Cars lay crushed on the side of the roads and covered in dust, windows shattered either from the blast or falling objects.
Some 300,000 people are now without homes. There are reports that, with nowhere else to go, some are returning to the rubble of their homes to sleep. This is a country already straining under the weight of 1.5 million Syrian refugees and about 500,000 Palestinian refugees. They now have 300,000 of their own people internally displaced, and all in just one day.
The Lebanese people are reeling from this sudden blow. It comes at a time when their economy had already been in free fall for months. Hyperinflation this year devalued their currency by 80%. This meant that $100 in the bank was now worth $20, while the cost of food items tripled or quadrupled at the same time. A person who may have been making $1,200 a month and living reasonably well, now only earns the equivalent of $240 and can barely even scrape by to live. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost from the pandemic as well, adding to an already severe situation.
Life was already becoming untenable for many before this newest calamity, with some estimates that approximately 50% of the local population had slipped below the poverty line this past month. It is a confluence of tragedies confronting the nation of Lebanon this week, and nobody yet knows the way out from it all.
What Can We Possibly Do To Help?
This problem is way bigger than one person, one relief group, and one church. Nobody by themself can possibly meet even a fraction of all the needs. Just walking the wreckage of those streets overwhelms a person with the magnitude of what needs to be done to fix it all.
But we can still do our small part to help. We have already had a team in Beirut for a couple days helping to clear a serious amount of rubble from a church that literally faces the port. The pastor and his congregation were fortunately not present during the blast, though the homes of some church members were damaged or destroyed. By clearing out the rubble to make parts of the building usable again, it enables this church to begin focusing outward to help the devastated community around them and share the compassion of Christ.
We intend to continue working in coordination with this church and other local ministries in the areas closest to the blast site. Our beginning focus is on helping people clear out the enormous amounts of rubble and debris from their homes so they can begin the process of rebuilding. We also hope to distribute food, water and other needful items to people in those areas through an aid tent. We do expect to also identify legitimate long-term needs amongst those affected to hopefully help them rebuild and reoccupy their homes once again.
Please pray for us in all of this. For the Lebanese so devastated by the blast. For the volunteers coming to help. For open doors to serve to the fullest for the Lord. For wisdom to know what needs we can meet and what needs are beyond our ability. And ultimately pray for the Lord to be glorified through His people showing compassion to those left with nothing after this blast.
If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.