Update from Hadath Baptist Church

God Continues To Use HBC To Serve The Most Vulnerable

Hadath (31)As the refugee catastrophe continues, God is giving Hadath Baptist Church amazing opportunities to witness to the love of Christ amongst those most in need. As Lebanon continues to absorb unsustainable numbers of refugees, the opportunities to serve in practical ways increase.

As well as welcoming increasing numbers of non-Christian background refugees to our Sunday worship services, including at least 30 teenagers each week, we have been able to provide physical assistance to increasing numbers of families from the Naaba area of Beirut (we are now helping 80 families!), a significant hub for the refugee community.

We continue to rely on your prayers, friendship and support, and thank you for your continued interest in our ministry.

Check out some highlights below about all the things we’ve been doing.

  • HBC’s young adults raised $1,000 towards the Syrian refugees and also hosted the Naaba teenagers for Sunday lunch – during a whole month – in an attempt to get to know them better.
  • The Lebanese Baptist Society and HBC have been working to provide eighty families with $60 food vouchers each month to families in most need (Lebanese and Syrian). Not only we are distributing food and vouchers, members of HBC have regularly visited families in the area.
  • At the Horizons Centre, located in Naaba, we are providing relief supplies, daily meetings for prayer, worship, teaching and evangelism. Numbers continue to increase as people meet the living Christ.
  • The Church Council and some of HBC’s Youth Group went to visit the Naaba families that are attending church to strengthen ties with the local and refugee community.
  • We’ve continuously received positive feedback, not only regarding the visits, but also the teaching their kids are receiving. Many families choose to send their kids, even if they are going to a [Christian] church, because they are receiving good education and biblical principles.
  • The growing HBC family spent 4 days in August escaping the business of life in Beirut, in order to enjoy a healthy retreat. We were honoured to have 200 people attending (around 20 refugees), enjoying a time of real blessing and intimacy with our Lord.
  • We continue to rely on your prayers, friendship and support, and thank you for your continued interest in our ministry.

From the Pastor: “Fitness”

exercise 01Ah, the internet – a wondrous, never-ending source of odd stories.  This past week I came across an article in the UK news site, “Daily Mail”, which proclaimed the results of a recent survey to indicate that “men lose interest in fashion trends and being ‘cool’ at around the age of 46, while women tended to focus on their appearance and general fitness until at least age 59.”  My first reaction was that this must have been a slow news day for them.  My second reaction was to think that letting go of making “fashion trends and being ‘cool’” a priority is very different than giving up on ‘general fitness.’

To care about our appearance isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It can motivate us to care for our bodies in a healthy way.  But of course, there can be an unhealthy preoccupation or worry about how others perceive us, or unrealistic standards or expectations we allow ourselves to succumb to, which draw us to compare ourselves with others instead of focusing on what is healthy for us.  Learning to let go of those things is good.  But the survey indicated that many people had reached a point where they had essentially given up on trying to make a difference in things that were affecting their general health, not just their appearance.

And that led me to wonder why people were letting go of some important things as well as the surface level stuff.  And it made me wonder about the similar ways we treat our spiritual lives. Continue reading “From the Pastor: “Fitness””

From the Pastor’s Desk: “Questions, Questions”

questionmarkIn a cartoon I read a while back, a guy was sitting at a table, having a cup of coffee with Jesus.  The gist of the comic went like this: Every time the guy would ask Jesus something, Jesus would respond with a question.  Finally the man gets exasperated and says: “Jesus, why do you keep answering my questions with questions?”

Jesus replies: “Why would I do that?”

Something to ponder: Which is more important, to have the right answer or to ask the right question?

And for those of you who immediately said “both!”  I agree…but let me ask: Does it make a difference to be given an answer without having asked the question first?

One of my favorite college stories involved an opportunity to take a very spur of the moment road trip with some friends to go camping in Wyoming.  But I had a test the next afternoon that I couldn’t miss.  I had attended all the classes and had taken notes, but hadn’t really studied.  The only thing in my favor was that the class was being taught by a very knowledgeable businessman who was, however, in his very first year of teaching.  So I went to him that same afternoon and asked if I could take the test early – as in, right then.  (For any students reading this, I’m not setting this up as an example to emulate, but I will point out that there are advantages to attending relatively small Christian colleges.  Just saying.)   He graciously allowed me to take the test.  It turned out to be entirely multiple choice, and despite my lack of real preparation, it wasn’t hard to pick out which answers the teacher wanted me to choose.  I ended up acing the test.  But looking back, I can’t remember much from that class. Continue reading “From the Pastor’s Desk: “Questions, Questions””

From the Pastor: “What Season Is It?”

garden 01Cool things are going on out behind the church garage, behind a roll of chicken wire and metal posts.   The Girl-Scout garden is flourishing – watered, weeded, and growing like crazy.  It won’t be too long before they can begin to harvest some of the vegetables that have been growing there all summer.

It’s that season of growing, my second-favorite time of year in Wisconsin (autumn is my favorite, it just never lasts long enough…), and it reminds me that just as the plants have their seasons of growing and fruition and dormancy, so too is it wise for us to pay attention to the seasons of our souls.

We can easily identify seasons of our lives: birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and so on – but there are rhythms in our spiritual lives as well, times of growth, times of rest, times to work and times to step back.   We ignore them at a price.

I have to confess it’s a hard balance to maintain in our posture as a church, for we have a calling to grow into an ever deeper faith and maturity in our lives.  We have a calling to use our gifts and our talents to care for others inside the church and outside in the community.   But just as truly, we need to remember that even as we are called to work for the kingdom, we are invited to find rest in God, to remember that we are human beings, not just human do-ings.  I was convicted by a conversation with a friend (outside the church) who spoke of the busyness of life and how a church can sometimes add to that sense of burden in a way that isn’t helpful. Continue reading “From the Pastor: “What Season Is It?””

From the Pastor: “On the Journey”

never forgive never forgetOne of the more poignant moments for me over the past few weeks was when we arrived in the Naba’a neighborhood of Beirut and saw this graffiti spray-painted on a wall.

As Naba’a is a neighborhood filled with refugees from the Syrian war, it’s not hard to imagine these words coming from the bitter experience of hardship and loss, coupled with the difficulties of day to day life where cramped conditions, unemployment and an uncertain future weigh on the mind and soul.

Yet it is also the unconscious motto of people around the world who have been wronged.  Whether from violence, abuse, or even just a perceived personal slight, “never forgive, never forget” becomes a motto for building up walls between people, or justifying revenge – an eye for an eye.  After all, that’s Biblical, isn’t it?

In fact, “an eye for an eye” was originally intended to limit retribution, to keep it proportional to the harm done.  But the reality is that “never forgive, never forget” never solves the deepest issues; it cannot heal what has been done to us, nor does it acknowledge places where we ourselves may be at fault, where we have harmed others by our action or inaction. Continue reading “From the Pastor: “On the Journey””

From the Pastor: “Commitment, Busyness, Guilt and Purpose”

pulled-all-directionsCommitment.    God loves the world.  The Gospel is for everyone.   But unless we are willing to put everything on the table to follow Jesus, we aren’t His disciples.  Crowds of people came to Jesus to hear Him speak, to have Him cure their hurts in this world, to see Him perform miracles.  But Jesus turned away many would-be disciples: the folks who wanted to keep a foot in both worlds, the folks who were willing to settle for a side-order of Jesus as long as they could have parts of their lives stay the way they wanted it.  If we want to keep our lives in this world, we will (eventually) end up empty-handed.  If we lose our lives for the sake of the Gospel, we end up with everything.

This is a hard truth to hold onto and to live out: that the love of God is real and unconditional – and at the same time, to receive it as a follower of Jesus means making a commitment to God and to God’s mission that reshapes how we look at everything else in our lives.  It means that we belong to God and to other Christians.  Whoever we are, whatever our life situation, to be a disciple is to be committed to living out our faith, growing in our faith, and building one another up with our gifts and resources.  It’s an old saying that 20% of folks in a church do 80% of the work.  A church will (and should) always have people in various stages of spiritual maturity.  Yet we can’t lose sight of the reality that spiritual maturity involves being committed to using our gifts, talents and resources for God’s mission. Continue reading “From the Pastor: “Commitment, Busyness, Guilt and Purpose””