In early August the Lebanese capital of Beirut was in crisis after two devastating explosions at the port left over 150 dead, 6000 injuries and billions in property damage. James O’Callaghan speaks with South Moreton Presbytery Multicultural Project Officer Levon Kardashian about his connection to Beirut and what the church can do to assist.
By now you’ve probably seen the pictures and video footage from the tragedy that rocked Beirut on 4 August: two massive explosions (now believed to be linked to over 2500 tonnes of stored ammonium nitrate) and then destroyed buildings, destroyed streets and destroyed lives.
For Levon Kardashian the news was deeply personal—as a child he would roam the streets of Beirut and was born in a hospital less than one kilometre away from the explosion site.
“I lived in the area for 40 years, I went to school there and I went to church there,” says Levon. “I haven’t been there for 11 or 12 years, but I can still picture the streets and the houses there.”
Levon says he is thankful that he had been able to connect with all family and friends still living in Beirut.
“By the grace of God, no one within my networks has suffered life-threatening injuries. Some of the stories I have heard and photos I have seen are incredibly graphic and it will take a considerable period of time to rebuild the city.”
Many in the Uniting Church will be reaching out and supporting those impacted in Australia and Lebanon, and Levon suggests prayers and a simple message of solidarity will go a long way.
“Reach out to members of the Lebanese community within your congregation,” says Levon. “Tell them that you are thinking of them and that you are praying for them.”
Both UnitingWorld and the Middle East National Conference have appeals with all proceeds going towards supporting those in Beirut.
“Prior to the explosions and COVID-19, Lebanon was in a difficult economic position,” says Levon.
To donate to the UnitingWorld appeal, click here.
To donate to the Middle East National Conference Appeal, funds can be transferred to the below bank account with your name as a reference.
Bank: Commonwealth Bank
Account name: UCA Middle East National Conference (MENC)
BSB Number: 062295
Account number: 10438825
Levon will prepare a prayer for congregations across the Uniting Church to use in services this Sunday. This prayer will be available later this week and promoted through Synod social media channels.