Georges Bitar: The Pastor as Artist
June 4, 2016
Georges Bitar is a Syrian refugee. Georges sits in my living room, sipping coffee. As we relish the baklava he brought—a gift to the senses, compliments of his wife, Mary—my wife, Laura, is delighted, for Georges has presented to her a beautiful calligraphy of the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic. Georges is both an artist and a pastor, leader of the Middle Eastern Presbyterian Fellowship (MEPF) in Tucson.
Georges’ ministry among the refugees of the MEPF is a full-service ministry of walking with people through the difficulties of legal hoops, social obstacles, and cultural assimilation (and preservation). Yet it is also a ministry of helping people walk with Jesus. The MEPF worships in Arabic and serves Christians from several countries, all of whom are refugees. Extending beyond the Christian faith, the MEPF also includes several Muslims and Yazidis drawn to the community initially because of its shared language and cultural heritage but drawn deeper into the community because of the members’ engagement with the gospel.
As we finish our coffee, I am enriched by the stories I have heard: of heart and courage, of the beloved and beautiful community of Jesus, of crosses carried and new life given from above. Leading a refugee community is a pastoral art and takes a pastor with an artist’s heart—or is it an artist with a pastor’s heart? Fortunately, Georges Bitar is both an artist and a pastor.
Jayne Raffety, Chair of Presbytery de Cristo’s Ministry for Witness and Outreach
Ruling Elder and Parish Nurse, Mountain Shadows Presbyterian Church
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
God of peace, we give you thanks for your beloved and beautiful community that extends to the four corners of the earth. We pray for pastor Georges and his people, for their safety and shalom, for their mission of reflecting the light and love of Jesus in word and in deed. May your blessings be upon them and through them in the power of Holy Spirit.