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Incarnated Hope

A Letter from Elmarie and Scott Parker, serving in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria

Winter 2022

Write to Elmarie Parker
Write to Scott Parker

Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Elmarie and Scott Parker’s ministry

Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Elmarie and Scott Parker’s ministry

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Dear friends,

“We’ve been destroyed, completely, an explosion, and our whole life was changed; we have gone backwards very much, especially us the Lebanese; they [those with power] have destroyed us; they have brought us to the ground; even below ground. Honestly, we are not living, but we say, ‘Thank God for everything,” shares Bchara (last name withheld by request). He and his family are among the thousands whose home was destroyed in the 2020 Beirut port blast that decimated a third of Beirut. His health and the health of his wife and son have all deteriorated, with Bchara facing five heart surgeries since the explosion.

Bchara used to work as an electrician making $5,000/month. And then, the Lebanese economy collapsed, starting in 2019, exacerbated by the global pandemic. The failure of elected officials to act in a coherent way for the good of Lebanon and the near collapse of Lebanon’s banking sector has only made the situation worse. Now Bchara works as a security guard, making around $60/month. Not enough to live on with the record year-on-year high inflation rate in Lebanon of 224.39% as of December 2021 ( In addition, he collects plastic bottles to sell per kilo from some extra money.

The Compassion Protestant Society (CPS), the diaconal arm of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), accompanies families like Bchara’s. In 2021 alone, they assisted nearly 2,000 families. Mr. Fadi Riachi, executive director for CPS, reports that most measures indicate that 80% of Lebanese and 99% of Syrian families refugeed in Lebanon are unable to provide enough food for their families. “It is common that an average family goes for four months without meat or poultry.” Bchara echoes this when he says, “The least thing is that a person be able to eat…this is the least thing. It is a shame to mention it, but we are not even tasting meat.” CPS was able to give Bchara and his family an $800 debit card. This gift helped Bchara provide his family with essential medication, food and other supplies.

In addition to this kind of assistance, CPS provides supermarket vouchers. By early March, they will be distributing up to 1,000 vouchers a day through the seven schools overseen by the NESSL all across Lebanon. They are seeking to do more, however, than meet the immediate need. They are working to cultivate thriving lives for vulnerable families. Three times a year, they distribute what they call “Agro Baskets.” The winter basket contains tree seedlings like mango, avocado, almond, walnut, lemon, cherry, pear or peach. The spring basket contains vegetable seeds and seedlings for the basics of a Lebanese diet—tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, basil, mint, parsley and zucchini. The fall basket contains seeds and seedlings for cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, potatoes, garlic and onions. In this way, they are encouraging families to once again plant gardens, whether on balconies or in small yards.

CPS has discovered that elderly adults are especially vulnerable in Lebanon at this time. Many have remained in Lebanon, the land they know and love, when adult children have moved to other countries to find work. Many senior adults worked hard their entire lives and have now lost their savings to the banking crisis. To address food insecurity among retirees, CPS is developing its version of “Meals on Wheels.” Through four kitchens placed in various parts of Lebanon, they aim to provide up to 2,000 meals a day. Funding is still needed to implement this program.

But CPS has a vision even larger than these contributions to food security. They call it their Family Stabilization Support Program. It will build capacity with economically vulnerable communities to generate job creation and income generation. Riachi says, “We intend to generate lasting local economic expansion through governance reform from the ground up. We’ll do this through developing democratic committees whose members will include grass roots leaders from the various economic, social, and local authorities of each community. Our implementation teams will impart to these committees the skills to work across social, religious and political barriers to manage community economic agendas in a democratic, accountable fashion.” According to Riachi, CPS will initially work with communities to focus in the areas of agriculture, tourism, eco-tourism and education, all of which cut to the heart of youth empowerment and women’s economic independence—two key priority constituencies.

At a time when so much of life is collapsing in Lebanon, the current and envisioned work of the Compassion Protestant Society seeks to incarnate hope. False hope harms. But the hope CPS offers is tangible, practical and empowering.

We invite you to be a part of the transforming vision CPS has in mind for Lebanon. Please email me (Elmarie) for additional details. And, thank you. Your continuing partnership with us, Presbyterian World Mission, and our partners in the Middle East means more now than ever before. We remain so very grateful for your prayers, emails, virtual visits and financial support.

With joy,

Elmarie and Scott

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