The Challenge of Living in Lebanon
A personal testimony by Ramy
My name is Ramy, I am 32 years old and live, work and serve in Lebanon together with my lovely wife, Myriam, and 3-year old son, Andrew.
It is difficult to state all the challenges Lebanon faces. The country has not yet recovered from a 17-year civil war fueled by many foreign countries and now the war in Syria is blocking our only land access out of Lebanon. We also face constant threats of war with Israel and major socio-economic problems. This is aggravated by corruption at all levels of government and exacerbated by the presence of up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and several hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. These refugees constitute around 50% of the Lebanese population. This has strained Lebanon’s economy, public finances and public support services. Poverty and unemployment levels have soared to unseen peaks. The risk of imminent war (ISIS, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc.) and economic collapse has become the daily topic of every news channel.
What did all these challenges lead to in my life and the life of my family? LIFE & HOPE!
I had no other option but to turn to the Lord. These times of difficulty have taught me to grow in humility, surrender my life and trust in the grace of God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:9). I have grown in relying on God’s providence, my eyes have seen Him “opening his hand and satisfying the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). When everyone around me was in despair, the Lord filled my heart and soul with hope, hope that He would not lead me astray, “I am with you always, to the end of the ages” (Matthew 28:20). This particular season has motivated me to seek –in a deeper way- holiness, accepting that for me there is God and God alone, and asking for a “Christian life that is a good defense before the awesome judgment seat of Christ” (The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom from the Orthodox Church). I have come to realize the greatness of the treasure I have. How can I focus on myself when everyone else (colleagues, friends, relatives, etc.) is drowning in distress? An urge for evangelism filled my heart; I started declaring the “Good News” to my colleagues, to the youths I serve, to my extended family. What else could I offer? “Silver and gold, I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).
I pray that we may continue at all times, in times of peace and in times of persecution, to lay down our life before the Lord, doing nothing but His will, knowing that “for such a time as this, we are called to give our all, to follow Christ, to spread His Light, to do not our will but His” (For Such a Time as This, by John Keating).