Proclaiming God’s love to the entire Arab region
A Baptist church in Beirut that has learnt to love its refugee neighbours is now testifying to that love to audiences across the Arab world through satellite television
Broadcasts of live Sunday services from Resurrection Church, Beirut (RCBeirut) began on SAT-7, a Christian television network serving the Middle East and North Africa with over 21 million viewers, last month.
The church, formerly Hadath Baptist Church, is situated close to parts of the city that have become home to many Syrians and Iraqis fleeing conflict. Recognising deep social needs on its doorstep, RCBeirut has become known for supporting and welcoming people from many backgrounds.
The five weekly worship services at RCBeirut combine contemporary, Arab-style worship with clear, hope-filled biblical teaching. Complementing these, a wide range of aid, friendship and education ministries offer hope and practical care to hundreds of Iraqi, Syrian and Lebanese neighbours.
The broadcasts came about after SAT-7 provided media and TV training to a group within the church.
'We are very happy to see this weekly service on air,' said SAT-7's Arabic Programming Director George Makeen. 'It is difficult to find someone who is biblically solid, yet can speak a simple language people can understand.
'RC Beirut’s Pastor Hikmat Kashouh (pictured) does this perfectly: he always builds bridges between the biblical text and its historical context and today’s challenges.
'He focuses on how Christian faith can be implemented in everyday action and how the church, the one body of Christ, can together reflect God’s image in the ways its members relate to one another and serve society.'
Pastor Hikmat found Christ during the Lebanese civil war. Today his church acts as the hands of Christ to those escaping civil war in neighbouring countries.
'The displacement of people from Syria and the presence of Iraqi refugees has created huge social challenges,' he said . These have been felt hardest by what he described as “shattered families” who are struggling with social, emotional and financial problems; in many cases, several families are living together in cramped accommodation.
'So as a church our role is to serve the family holistically,' Kashouh explained. 'We care for its spiritual, emotional and physical life. We offer a variety of activities without discrimination, aiming to serve and love as God taught us to.'
These activities include providing household essentials, home visits and a level of help with medical care, educational learning support, family and personal counselling and a welcome to church life groups and services.
'For those who are eager to learn about Jesus Christ we have faithful individuals always ready to read God’s Word and pray with them,' he said.
'In so many cases, we witness God’s direct intervention in the lives of these individuals. We have seen so many miraculous healings.'
Learning to live together
Becoming a shelter for people from many different societies and cultures has not been easy, however.
'When the church shelters people with ethnic and background diversity, it creates conflicts,' Pastor Hikmat said. Over the last five years, RCBeirut has had to “learn how to live and coexist despite the different backgrounds”.
The result has enriched the church as a local expression of Christ: 'The way we learned to genuinely love one another despite our differences and exceptional diversity equipped us with spiritual maturity,' he said. 'So when we observe during our worship and gatherings how God placed in this church people from different backgrounds, we see a beautiful, diverse picture.'
A message for the region
The church is now looking far beyond its local community to proclaim God’s love to the entire Arab region through its weekly TV broadcasts.
'Through our collaboration with SAT-7, we aim to preach the Bible to every house in the Middle East and North Africa region,' Pastor Hikmat said. 'Our objective is to impact each person to love God willingly with all his heart and soul and love his brother the way he loves himself. We hope through this genuine and honest collaboration to spread the name of Jesus Christ everywhere.'
SAT-7’s George Makeen said RCBeirut’s style works well on TV: 'Their services use props to illustrate the message. One time it was a basket of tomatoes, most of them good but with a few rotting ones to illustrate how the church should purify and heal the community, or all will turn bad.'
Prayer, marriage, parenting, handling grief and loss, and the changed lifestyle of a Christian are some of the themes being covered in the first season of broadcasts from RC Beirut. Please pray for these and ask that viewers will be inspired by the unity of this church and challenged to put God’s Word into action in their own lives and communities.
Report courtesy of SAT-7, an indigenous Christian television network serving the Middle East and North Africa with over 21 million viewers: www.sat7uk.org