A fertile, mountainous state, the Republic of Lebanon is located between Israel and Syria in the East Mediterranean. The picturesque Bekaa Valley is the primary agricultural region and comprises 40 percent of its arable land. As mentioned in the Old Testament, Lebanon was covered by large forests of cedar trees in ancient times. Although only 13 percent of the land is forested today, the cedar tree remains the national emblem of the country.
Lebanon has a rich history of ethnic and religious diversity. The earliest evidence of human settlement in Lebanon dates back over 7,000 years ago. The territory was home to the ancient Phoenicians for over a thousand years before the birth of Christ and came under Roman rule in 64 B.C. Following conquest by the Ottoman Turks, the region remained under their control for centuries until the empire´s collapse in the early 1900s. The five provinces constituting modern-day Lebanon became Mandates of France after World War I. Lebanon gained independence in 1943.
The capital city of Beirut became a hub for tourism and banking and brought great prosperity to the country. In its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the “Switzerland of the East.” Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s wrecked the infrastructure and crippled its economy. The country rebuilt by borrowing heavily, thus saddling the government with a huge debt burden.
There are 18 recognized religious communities: four Muslim, one Druze, one Jewish, and 12 Christian. Muslims make up 58 percent of the population; Christians represent 31 percent. Although the majority of Lebanese are Muslims, the government is secular and its constitution grants freedom of religion. That freedom is tenuous, however, and coupled with political conflicts and economic instability, has prompted a large-scale emigration of Christians over the past 40 years.
Christian Aid works with indigenous missionaries who are reaching some of the more isolated people groups, such as the nomadic Bedouins. These local ministries are also providing spiritual and humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, whose massive influx is placing a tremendous strain on the country´s limited resources.
Recent Prayerline Posts
March 1, 2018 - Lebanon was never a welcoming place for refugees after Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, as an 11-year-old boy who lost his father to a bombing found out. Read more.
A skilled craftsman uses an array of valuable tools to create a thing of beauty. The results would be less satisfying if his toolbox contained only a file or hammer. Native missionaries have learned to extend the gospel of Christ through a host of tools that meet needs and communicate the Bible’s message meaningfully. In the Middle East, where restrictions can be a challenge, resourceful mission groups use their God-given ingenuity to fulfill the Great Commission. Read more.