Lebanon #6: Under the Tent of Jesus

by Nancy Nicholson, for the team (First Presbyterian Church, Lake Forest, Ill.)

This morning, on our last full day, we sang, “You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you. Let the weak say ‘I am strong in the strength of the Lord.’ I will trust in you.”

Never has this song inspired by Corrie TenBoom’s book been so relevant as here in Lebanon with 70 Syrian and seven or more Lebanese Christian women who have seen and heard and experienced terrorist attacks, destruction of their homes and churches, or have been personally impacted by the war in Syria. They have been put in positions of fear for themselves, their loved ones, and their possessions, but have been held tightly by the love and strength of the Lord. This is not human power but the power of God to uphold us when we are weak and to be our strong fortress.

I was privileged to share a conversation today with three women from Latakia, Syria. Their city was not sieged like Aleppo or Homs, suffering smaller more random attacks, but out of their love for Jesus and those suffering in nearby areas, they have been reaching out to help. Their spirits have been lifted here by gathering together at the conference center with their Christian sisters.

They told me their faith has been deepened as they have shared stories, cares, and prayers with each other and been fed from the Word of God. As Pastor Toby quoted this morning from Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

My new Syrian and Lebanese sisters inspire me by their courage and joy. They have been wonderfully friendly and warm and reached out to me as a stranger and American. They pull me ahead in line and carry boxes for me. They smile and serve meals and pull me into their singing and dancing. Their enthusiasm and warmth is contagious. We exchanged emails and I look forward to keeping in touch. We have taken and been in many photos. As I review them, the memories will be sweet and inspirational to me all over again.

Our fearless leader, Marilyn Borst, was honored at the closing of tonight’s teaching session. She did not expect it, and we enjoyed the surprise and celebration with the Synod and church leaders for her faithful service to and with them. They praised her for her ongoing commitment and love shared abundantly to the people and the church in this place where God has called her to minister. I was particularly moved by the truth declared by one of the women, “What a joy when east and west meet under the tent of Jesus Christ!”

It has indeed been a joy to be together as one as Christ’s body, in unity of spirit and purpose. We will forever be sisters and children of our Lord and King. We are drawn together by the love of Jesus and reinforce that love as we fellowship as one Church. We support and encourage each other, and our faith is increased by being in each other’s presence and sharing God’s work in our lives. We have all found our hiding place under the tent of our God and together we trust in Him.