Native missionaries in Lebanon put in long hours helping Muslim refugees from Syria, but recently their attention was drawn to the suffering of a Lebanese atheist raised in one of the country’s historical churches.
Michael Younis* showed up at their door saying he had suffered a spiritual encounter with the devil.
“It was shocking and hard, as I struggled with the devil himself, who was trying to hurt me,” said Younis, who had become an atheist during nine years of addiction to alcohol and drugs, which he began taking when he was 15. “I was a dead man walking, with no goal in my life or any purpose. I was a complete slave to the sinful life that I was living.”
His altercation with the adversary came on a particular night – March 29, 2021 – and was especially terrifying as he did not believe in God, Younis said.
“But I remember well how I heard another voice, which I realized was the voice of God, who whispered in my ear and helped to conquer this encounter,” he said. “He found a way out for me that night and told me, ‘Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
His childhood in the traditionalist church enabled him to remember the Lord’s Prayer, which he recited.
“I could see how the devil fell on the floor, and he was trembling out of fear, and as I soon as I finished my prayer, he ran trying to flee from the room,” Younis said.
Soon afterward he sought out the local missionaries, workers at a church that believes in the authority of Scripture. He told them the encounter had made him see the reality of the spiritual world and the greatness of Jesus. They prayed for complete deliverance from unclean spirits and vice and led him to trust in Christ as Lord and Savior.
He has since stopped drinking, taking drugs and smoking, he said.
“Getting to know Christ as my personal Savior made a great change in my life,” Younis said. “Now I have a new purpose and goal in my life, which is the kingdom of God. My Bible verse that I always remember is, ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:36)
He said he was especially grateful to the local missionary pastor and his team members, who helped him learn to draw on the Lord’s strength.
“I feel so lucky getting to know what the Lord has done for me, and how He gave me His strength to be able to overcome all this darkness around me,” Younis said. “I am sharing my testimony and the love of Christ with all my friends, and how He can free them just as He did me. I thank all those who stood by me and supported me and are still standing by my side.”
Younis came face to face with the spiritual realm 10 years to the month after mass protests in 2011 led to civil war in Syria – killing hundreds of thousands of people, displacing 6.2 million internally and driving 5.6 million others out as refugees to Lebanon and other countries.
“A generation of children and youth may never heal from their trauma,” the leader of the local ministry in Lebanon said. “Although the conflict might be drawing near to a conclusion, the crisis will burden the lives of hundreds of thousands for many years to come.”
The lives of refugees in Lebanon are marked by more destitution each day, he said. While still serving the many Lebanese pining under collapsed economic and political structures, local missionaries are continuing to help refugees with food, health care, shelter, clean water and access to quality education and vocational training, among other services, he said.
Over the course of six months, 560 refugee children enrolled in the ministry’s two education centers; 50 refugee households received medical assistance; 45 refugee women benefited from an adult literacy program; 2,500 refugee households received hygiene kits to help protect them againist COVID-19; and 8,821 refugee families received food.
Many refugees have come to saving belief in Christ in the course of these outreaches, with both adults and children strengthening their faith in the ministry’s discipleship training. At the same time, evangelistic outreaches have continued. At one event, a Syrian woman and her cousin, both of them Druze, were touched by a message about how to commit to Christ and walk in the Spirit, and they both gave their lives to the Lord.
“As soon as they went back home, they both decided to share the message with their husbands and how Christ touched their lives,” the leader said. “The husbands responded by opening their hearts to Christ and became believers. Now both families are regular attenders at our training school.”
An atheist who had been raised as a Muslim visited a discipleship training because his mother had converted and was participating.
“He attended out of curiosity,” the leader said. “The topic was from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, about how the Word was from the beginning and the Word was God, and how God from the beginning made everything. He was touched by the message and soon became a committed believer, and he attends the training groups.”
Local missionaries are reaching such people from various walks of life throughout the country. Please consider a donation today to equip and encourage them for the task.
*Name changed for security reasons