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Lebanon

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A map showing the position of Lebanon

Lebanon is the only Arab state that is not officially Muslim and has the highest proportion of Christians in its population of any country in the Middle East: around 32%. But this figure reflects a major decline from the 1970s, when Christians comprised a slight majority; emigration prompted by several wars and the small size of Christian families has caused their numbers to fall significantly.

Lebanon is one of the most complex countries in the Middle East, its population composed of a mixture of Christian communities, Sunni Muslims, Twelver Shi’a Muslims, Druze and others. The civil war of 1975-1990 has left an ongoing legacy of struggle for political power along sectarian lines.  

The constitution establishes a balance of power among the major religious groups, which is intended to prevent any one group from becoming dominant: the president, prime minister, and speaker of parliament must be Maronite Christian, Sunni Muslim, and Shia Muslim, respectively; Christians and Muslims must be represented equally in parliament, the cabinet, and high-level civil service positions. But the Christian influence is weakening as Islam gains strength.

Some religious groups, including unregistered Protestant ones, are not officially recognised and consequently do not qualify for certain government positions. But they are allowed to practise their faith freely.

Despite the tensions between the different groups, religious freedom is largely upheld. Unlike in other countries in the Middle East, there are no legal restrictions on evangelism and people are free to change their religion on their identity cards and official registry documents. It is nevertheless very costly for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.

Lebanon remains a place of refuge for those fleeing religious persecution. Christians from Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and more recently Syria have gone to the country to escape discrimination and violence in their homeland.  

The conflict in Syria has been spilling over into Lebanon, inflaming underlying sectarian tensions. Fighters from the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group Hezbollah have helped shore up Syrian President Assad’s forces, while The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, has been launching attacks in Lebanon.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Churches in Christian-majority Burundi are facing the unfamiliar situation of political restriction by their own government because of a new law passed in August that requires each church to have at least 500 members and a proper building. Congregations have a year in which to comply with the new regulations. Although intended to reduce some scandalous practices, the law is strangely reminiscent of the strict regimes of Central Asia. Pray that religious liberty will be maintained in Burundi, both for Christians and for the small minorities who follow other religions. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for eight Cameroonian missionaries who have been harshly reminded of the cost of sharing the Gospel in their country during a training seminar to equip them for ministry. Barnabas had helped to fund a series of seminars, and on the final day of the last seminar they heard that Jean-Marcel Kesvere, another Cameroonian missionary, who had been planning to attend the seminar with his wife, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram and that his body had been found earlier that day. Give thanks for the response of the missionaries, who expressed their willingness to suffer similarly for Christ, and pray that their work will bear much fruit (John 12:24). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Please pray for Christians in northern Cameroon, where Boko Haram is terrorising people, especially Christians and security forces, just as in neighbouring Nigeria. The Islamist militants openly declare themselves to be Boko Haram, and issue threats by letter, including to pastors telling them they must leave. Two pastors were killed in the village of Assigashia on the night of 25-26 August, hich has caused great distress and consternation. The Cameroonian Christians ask for prayer that God will bring peace and security, that the kidnapped will be released, that believers will stand firm despite being targeted, that God will comfort the traumatised, and that church leaders will know how to prepare their people for persecution. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Fund in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Oct 2014 00:00

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