A letter from Nuhad Tomeh in Lebanon
Late Fall 2013
Dear friends in Christ,
Greetings from Beirut, Lebanon, on this Reformation Day!
In the weeks ahead, I will be visiting church partners in Syria and Lebanon, encouraging them to continue to be faithful in their witness in the midst of all that is happening in the Middle East, which is having a devastating effect upon their Christian presence and witness. During that time, I plan to share with them inspiration from Isaiah 11:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding…
…The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
In summary, I will emphasize the fact that there will be an end to all that we are going through, peace will prevail and the Lord who has already saved us will not leave us or forsake us because we are His own.
The message to the church in Smyrna in Revelation 2 also provides assurance: I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) …. Do not fear what you are about to suffer…. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Christians here, once again, are experiencing persecution, being kidnapped and killed. Their churches are being desecrated and destroyed. Immigration is on the rise as a result, draining the region of its Christian presence at an alarming rate.
But even in the face of all this difficulty come Christ’s comforting words from John 16: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
I pray that these words hold comfort for the people of Maloula, one of the oldest Christian towns in the Middle East, located not far from Damascus, and one of the rare places on earth where Aramaic---the language of our Lord---is still spoken, or for the Christians in Sadad or Hafar. In recent weeks, all three were attacked by radical Muslim rebels. Many citizens were killed or hurt, and thousands have been driven from their homes.
Sisters and brothers, your fellow Christians in the Middle East need your prayers, support, solidarity and advocacy---now more than ever! And I thank all of you who have been supporting our Presbyterian partners in Syria and Lebanon and Iraq. And I especially want to thank you for supporting me and my ministry over the past fifteen years as I retire from the PC(USA) at the end of this year. I could not have done what I have done without your prayers, encouragement and financial support---together, I hope we have brought glory and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
So this is my last newsletter. My “official assignment,” which I will do as a volunteer, is to facilitate a consultation in Beirut in January: an effort of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon to bring together its partners from around the world and update them on their relief efforts with, and through, the twenty Presbyterian congregations in Syria.
The PC(USA) has appointed the Rev. Elmarie Parker as my replacement to serve as Regional Liaison here. She and her husband, the Rev. Scott Parker, who will also be a mission coworker, will be based in Beirut and plan to arrive during the first week of this coming December.
In the weeks and months ahead, may our risen Lord bring us all His peace which “passes all understanding.”
Join the Matching Gift Challenge for World Mission from now through December 31, 2013. Individual gifts given in this time frame, up to $90,500 will double in value and impact! Consider giving your individual gift today. For more information, please contact Relationship Development Operations at 1-800-728-7228.
Dr. Tomeh: Thank you for your great service over so many years. We, at Woodhaven Presbyterian Church, in Irving, Texas, are partnered with NESSL, (since June of this year) and communicate with Mary Mikhael every month. Have a blessed retirement, and thanks for continuing to volunteer your talents.