This past weekend marked the 40 day observance of the port blast. It was a somber reminder that not too long ago this city was suddenly and violently traumatized by an unprecedented explosion. It was also a reminder that time is passing all too quickly as we try to help clear rubble, rebuild homes and continue to be a blessing to those in Beirut 40 days on from the blast.
The week behind us was a busy one, with new volunteers rotating in to help clear some new buildings while we also worked on closing out tasks at three homes we began helping weeks back. These homes are now inhabitable with repaired doors and windows. The residents are quite thankful for this. We have a lot more homes in process to help too. Thanks for praying for our volunteers that we could be a blessing to the Lebanese and get work done despite the many obstacles here!
Being a Blessing By Fixing Homes
One man shared with me today that over the past month numerous volunteer and government groups came to assess his friend’s home that we are helping to fix. He said he told them if they’re just coming to bring a box of food, to keep the food because they aren’t hungry. If they’re just coming to offer trauma counseling to go home, because they don’t want that. If they’re coming to write down what’s broken in the house, then they had better come back and help fix it instead of deliberating over the needs for weeks without action.
He was adamant that all they need right now is someone to make their homes livable again by fixing the doors, windows and home damage, and to do it fast. He thanked our group for being the first one’s to help fix his friend’s house out of all the groups that assessed the house but never returned. In turn, we were glad that the Lord had helped us stay focused on helping with what is needed most during this time!
We realized another way the Lord is using this blast response to bless the residents of Lebanon is through providing work for all the carpenters, metal workers and window hangers we rely on. While our teams do the initial rubble clearing and cleaning, when it comes time to install doors and windows we rely on a network of trusted local contractors who have the right tools and expertise (and big delivery trucks!) to make it happen.
One of the local contractors told me the other day: “You all are helping the people here in Beirut a lot, but really you are helping us workers even more. For 8 months I have not had almost any work, and now I have work and can take care of my family.” (For those who are unaware, prior to the port blast Lebanon was going through a historic economic meltdown with high unemployment levels)
We are thankful to see the Lord work through the blast response to be a blessing to more people than we had even expected when we began!
Fleeing From a Major Port Fire
It’s also worth noting that our team was very near the vicinity of the major port fire that happened this past Thursday (Sep. 10th). From the building we were cleaning out, we could not only see the flames but feel the heat emanating from the massive inferno that was rapidly spreading.
We quickly evacuated the building and returned to church aid tent, only to find that the raging fire was at the part of the port only a few hundred meters across the highway from the church we are working with. We quickly packed up and got out of there as well. As thick black smoke billowed overhead, people ran frantically for cover on the streets fearing a second major port explosion.
We knew that around 4 tons of ammonium nitrate had recently been discovered in the port by the government, and since we weren’t sure if it had been moved out yet we were a little concerned that might ignite and explode too. While 4 tons is a lot less than the thousands of tons that exploded last August, it could still do a lot of damage.
Thankfully, the Lord helped everyone to get out of there safely. The local authorities brought in all the firefighting apparatus they could, and did a good job quickly bringing the fire under control. By the next day, it was just a smoldering haze in the distance, and repair work could resume again downtown.
We have much to do in the weeks ahead before we have to end this blast response, pray with us for no more major emergencies or hindrances down in Beirut so we can continue the work!
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