Thought for the Month (June 2017)

As I write this, Duncan and I are only just back from a trip to The Lebanon with Embrace the Middle East. A relatively small country, its population is less than 4.5 million. Yet it is also one that has held strategic importance as a significant commercial hub for the Middle East and thus some measure of relative wealth.

Many years ago Duncan's Uncle Joe who had served as a sailor said it was the most beautiful country he had ever visited. Since it was in the thrust of a bitter civil war (1975-90) a visit then seemed impossible. For unfortunately The Lebanon has also seen its fair share of conflict in more recent times, bordering as it does both Syria and Israel, and comprising of a complex communal mix. It has been a centre for the Middle East's refugees for centuries. Christians, Druze, Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims live alongside each other, sometimes more harmoniously and sometimes in conflict.

Presently The Lebanon has seen a huge influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the terror that is plaguing their country. They arrive carrying next to nothing, except the hope of keeping their families alive and that somewhere, somehow life must get better.

Embrace the Middle East work with local communities to help. They provide logistical support and encouragement. The work is hard and local Christians can feel isolated. Our visit was to encourage them, but we arrive home so much more encouraged ourselves. To see the people of God serving and making such a difference in the lives of others.

Duncan and I look forward to sharing some of their stories with you over the coming months. Our trip was hard but inspirational, and reminded us how much we all need to be encouraged.

"So encourage each other and build each other up" 1 Thess. 5:11

Rev. Helen Warmington


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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church