A week in Sidon
Even though I got to know our All Saints Mission partner (or our ASMP as I will now call her) while I was living here last year, it was really nice to be able to see a bit more of her work this past week while I’ve been back here in Sidon, South Lebanon.
The first night I was here we left the flat in the evening to get a service (pronounced ‘serveeess’), one of the many shared taxis that race around the place. Thankfully the car only filled up to the number of seats (it’s not unheard of to have 2 or 3 people squashed in the front passenger seat!) and we arrive at the house where a team of Egyptian Christian workers are staying for a month. Our ASMP and her husband are helping to oversee this team as they receive training, practical and theoretical, on outreach methods and relating to people from a Muslim background. Amid much laughter the team took turns in sharing their learnings from the day, whether an encounter they had with someone in the market or some observation about the differences between Egyptian Christian and Lebanese Muslim cultures.
Sitting listening, I realise that while I can follow a limited amount of Lebanese Arabic, Egyptian Arabic is another story! Our ASMP on the other hand transitions seemingly confidently between both dialects while during the rest of the week she is also spending time learning Kurdish, her husband’s mother tongue, and useful due to the growing number of Syrian Kurds coming to faith in the area.We go and visit her Kurdish teacher a few days later. Mother of a Syrian family of four children who all arrived in Lebanon 4 years ago, it is a pleasure to spend the morning with her. The family, along with 18 pigeons, a dog and 2 cats all live in a house in the middle of an orange, lemon and banana grove with views over the sea in the distance. It sounds and almost appears idyllic, but the family are poor and nothing much in their life is easy, even forgetting the fact that they live with the grief of having lost their homeland of Syria to the ravages of war.As well as visiting the family to learn Kurdish our ASMP has also been sharing stories from the Bible on her visits. I was struck again by the simple beauty and power of storytelling, as we sat under the trees and listened to the parable of the talents followed by a gentle discussion about what the talents in our lives might be.
It’s really so very simple to offer others such seeds of wisdom, seeds which nurture a new vision of how God would have us live our lives no matter who or where in the world we are. My hope and prayer is that our ASMP can be enabled and encouraged to keep on sowing and nurturing God’s seeds in this way, because if anyone, anywhere needs to know more of a God of comfort, healing and love, it is folk in this little corner of South Lebanon.
It was a privilege to catch a glimpse of what is going on here!