Pastor Talia (not her real name) was never a likely candidate for ministry.
As a young woman in Lebanon, she experienced war for most of her life. She witnessed the closing days of a brutal civil war, ongoing conflict with Israel, and the 30-year occupation of her country by the Syrian military, which controlled Lebanon’s politics, oppressed its people, and killed its elected leaders.
And then there was the war at home. As her mother was dying, the rest of the family abandoned them, leaving 12-year-old Talia to care for her mother by herself.
“I lost my mother and I blamed God for that. She didn’t do anything wrong. … But I had a problem with God. I just wanted to grow up so I could take revenge on my family for deserting my mother as she died from cancer,” shared Talia.
In time, Talia found church and found God. Miraculously, she also found forgiveness in her heart.
“I enjoyed listening to the sermons and found myself wanting to go back again and again. At a certain point, it felt like my legs were just taking me to church. … Then one day I washed my face, looked in the mirror, and saw a new person. I started to forgive my extended family, and all the hate I had turned into love,” explained Talia.
In 2011, war once again erupted in the region, but this time it was in Syria―Lebanon’s old enemy. Seeing Syrian refugees flooding across their border revived feelings of resentment and bitterness for many Lebanese.
But not for Pastor Talia. Now a mother of two girls and a missions pastor at her church, she felt called to continue on the path of reconciliation, but this time to help people she once called enemies.
Partnering with World Renew and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Pastor Talia and her church are currently assisting over 100 Syrian families by providing them with food, milk, diapers, and other basic necessities. For Haya (not her real name), a widowed mother and grandmother whose home and business were destroyed by ISIS terrorists, World Renew’s food assistance program is a precious lifeline. But most importantly, she has experienced the love of Christ through people like Pastor Talia.
“I see the love of Jesus in Pastor Talia. Through her we benefit from many things beyond just food. She came to visit us when my husband died. ... I thank God for her!” said Haya.
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