One of the most exciting things happening at St. Andrew’s these days is our partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Minyara, Lebanon.
Click HERE for the March 2017 newsletter update on the Minyara project.
Above is a picture of the church and its minister Hadi Ghantous. This church rests just a few kilometres from the Syrian Border, and Minyara is flooded with refugees. The Akkar district of Lebanon, in which Minyara rests, has 300,000 Lebanese residents and 300,000 Syrian refugees. Most of these refugees live in very difficult conditions, often in haphazardly established camps.
The Minyara church is responding to this crisis by running a school for 75 refugee children and operating a free medical clinic in its church hall. Below you’ll see some images of the kids being gathered up for school by the ‘bus,’ sitting in assembly, and being checked by a nurse. The kids are also given a meal each school day and, for some of them, this will be their only meal that day.
Early this year, St. Andrew’s approached the Minyara church to ask if it was interested in a partnership and if we could support their mission. The response was very positive and, true to the culture of hospitality in the Middle East, the elders of the church told us that step one in that partnership should not be a transfer of money but some face-to-face time building friendship. To that end three members of St. Andrews traveled to Minyara in May to spend time with the church and its elders, to visit the refugee camps, the clinic, and the school. Russ Daye, our minister, Eric Roe and John Smith were met with amazing affection and hospitality. Below is a picture of of a wonderful evening spent at the home of Tony and Mariette Sukkar, two members of the church. The food, wine, and conversation flowed into deep laughter and even deeper warmth.
Eric, John, and Russ returned home full of stories, full of heartbreak for what the refugees, especially the children, must endure, and deeply moved by the service and sacrifice of the Minyara church. In the coming months we’ll be sending money to support their medical and educational programmes and preparing to have some members of the church come to Halifax to receive our hospitality and to share their story with people here.
If you are moved to support this partnership, you can send a donation to St. Andrew’s United Church and mark on the check ‘for Lebanon Refugee Partnership.’ If you would like to learn more or get involved, swing by on a Sunday at 10:30 (all are welcome, no matter what your religious background) and introduce yourself to one of our ministers. You can also be in touch with Russ at email@example.com.