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Evangelicals in Lebanon

September 2006 | by Antoine Haddad

There are an estimated 20,000 Protestants in Lebanon. These comprise Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Church of God, Nazarene, Brethren and Charismatics.

The Presbyterian and Congregational churches are similar, and form 75% of the Protestant community. The Presbyterian Synod covers Lebanon and Syria (there are several thousand Presbyterians in Syria also).

The evangelical missions that established Congregational and Presbyterian churches started work early in the nineteenth century. They founded the Syrian Protestant College (now the American University of Beirut) and the Beirut College for Women (now the Lebanese American University). Both today are secular institutions.

Sadly, most of these churches no longer preach salvation. They are heavily impacted by theological liberalism, and this has affected the training of their church leaders.

However, they do continue to subscribe credally to Reformed doctrine and there are true believers among them. There are also a few Baptist churches in Lebanon that are Reformed in doctrine.

Lebanon still retains a Christian ethos and a democratic political system. Freedom of worship and evangelism are guaranteed in the constitution. However, evangelism in Muslim communities is difficult and sometimes violently opposed by them. The country has a number of universities accommodating a large student body, with many students from other Arab countries. Lebanon is also a summer resort for Arabs including visitors from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

The political situation in the country is precarious. No matter how hard we try to dissociate ourselves from regional conflicts, we fail. There are over 500,000 Palestinian refugees who yearn to return to their ­country.

There exists a mosaic of various religious sects with loyalties beyond Lebanon’s borders — to Iran, Syria or Islamic religio-political movements elsewhere. This makes for great instability. Certainly, a just solution to the Palestinian problem would ensure greater stability in Lebanon and the whole region. However, this needs international pressure, particularly from America.

In spite of the many problems, Evangelical ministry in Lebanon continues unabated and the country continues to be the best base for outreach to the Arab world.

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