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Bishop of Lebanon: Christian refugees have been a blessing to us

He asserts that these persecuted Christians are “martyrs in life.”

Lebanon is one of the countries that welcomes the highest number of Syrian refugees, and, as a result, so do its churches. Since 2011, Msgr. Justinus Boulos Safar, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, has received hundreds of Christian refugee families in his parish.

Msgr. Justinus Boulos Safar, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Lebanon): “Christ now invites us to help these people because, as a Church, our message and our mission is not only to preach the Gospel in a non-practical way, but to preach it in a very practical way; and this means helping people in these cases.”

He quickly had to use all his creativity to alleviate the needs of refugees, who kept ringing at his door. This is why the bishop looks for resources in every area, to give back some those who have lost their sense of life. He does so by completing projects like this: a residence where up to 50 families can live.

Msgr. Justinus Boulos Safar, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Lebanon): “Our church is not rich, but we have opened the doors of our house to all the refugees. We do what we can, with the help of God.”

Lebanon, however, is in the midst of a grave situation. The bishop says the Syrian war has had a severe impact on the economy of his country. Despite this, he says that as a Christian, his duty is to help. This example of generosity has also comforted the refugees spiritually.

Msgr. Justinus Boulos Safar, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Lebanon): “A blessing is given to us by the people we help. It is not we who give them something. They are the blessing to us. That is why we thank God for this opportunity to put our faith into practice.”

Also amidst the Christian refugees themselves, are Syrian families who have fled from war or from the religious persecution from groups, like Daesh.

Msgr. Justinus Boulos Safar, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Lebanon):  “They are the martyrs in life. They are the martyrs in life. The Church calls them ‘confessors of the faith,’ those who have suffered persecution, but have not abandoned their faith. They are true martyrs.”

He says every day is living proof of how Divine Providence helps them, but he also recognizes the impact of human action: May the powerful cease to sell weapons, stop the war and, above all, help Christians not to abandon the land that sparked their faith in Jesus Christ.