If you haven’t yet heard Greg’s interview with Alan about his trip to Lebanon last month, you should go listen. Alan was there for over a week, teaching Egyptian Christian students how to share their faith in a hostile culture. It’s fascinating to hear the kinds of questions they asked Alan—urgent questions that we don’t face here.
Alan’s family is Assyrian, and he still has relatives in Iraq who haven’t been able to leave, so the persecution there hits close to home. He retold one of the stories from his trip in his monthly newsletter:
Most of my time in Lebanon I spent training upcoming Egyptian church leaders in theology and apologetics. For them, sharing their faith with Muslims is a risky endeavor. If they ask a Muslim to read the Gospels and consider Jesus as Savior, they can be reported to the police. Although they are willing to die for their faith, there’s no reason why they can’t use innovative techniques that help them share their faith without jeopardizing their safety….
While in Lebanon, I took advantage of another opportunity. My cousin Rami had recently fled Baghdad, Iraq, because of the increasing threat of three terrorist groups: The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and The Legions of the People of Truth (they have a way with names, don’t they?). Bombs just a minute’s walk from his home have turned his neighborhood into a battlefield. Rami sought refuge, coincidentally, in Lebanon to apply for asylum to the United States at the United Nations office.
Although I was in the same country as he was, I didn’t have access to a car. So, I did what any American would do who needs to get around the Middle East: ask a Facebook friend for a ride. I know, I know...it sounds crazy, but a local Lebanese man had heard on Facebook I was coming to Beirut and offered to drive me around. So I “cyberstalked” him (investigated his trustworthiness online) and eventually felt reasonably safe asking him for help to find my cousin. After looking for half a day, we finally found Rami in a small apartment room. I had never met Rami because he lived his whole life in Baghdad, but it felt like a reunion nonetheless. I was able to give him information about a local Assyrian church that had helped Iraqi refugees in the past. I can only pray and wait to see if his application will be approved and he (and then the rest of his family) can safely escape Iraq.