An update from Phil and Sylvie Good, Church Mission Society
Some of you may remember when Phil and Sylvie Good visited St Saviour’s for our Priority 1 meeting during our World Mission Month in January. Phil and Sylvie told us about their work with the Church Mission Society (CMS) in Beirut. It was both fascinating and challenging to hear about their mission and life in the slums of East Beirut, building relationships with the people they live among, mainly refugees, but also marginalised people from other backgrounds.
This is an edited version of their latest update, including news of the aftermath of the devastating explosion in Beirut port area on 4 August, and Phil and Sylvie’s plans:
From Phil and Sylvie …
It has been quite an intense period with the drama of the explosion at the beginning of August. And we had set apart some time to pray about our future plans. The great news is that God has heard our cry and has met our needs – no buts, no maybes, God is at work. Praise the Lord.
Firstly the fundraising for our relief work was amazingly successful and thank you so much to all those who gave. We raised more than enough for our budgeted £175,000 and the UK was this time a significant portion of that too, thanks to you.
Effects of the explosion
The explosion affected everyone, even worldwide, but as of now I would say that only the thousands of people who heard the screams and saw the blood are still processing what has happened. The rest of the people are over the shock and feeling very sad and maybe angry and it seems impossible that Lebanon will ever be the same. For us, we have seen the country decline ever since we have been here – there is less laughter and less fun generally. The younger people are especially depressed and seeking to leave the country.
Aside from the explosion, the deep-seated problems remain huge and insurmountable – I mean the crises of Politics and Corona and especially the economic collapse. Talk of the need for food and support for the Lebanese people resulting from the explosion are now attempts to move the conversation away from the real cause of the problems, which is also the cause of the explosion, namely the inept and corrupt government. Though we try to understand the place we are in, we are foreigners here. We bring a simple message that Jesus comes to us and dwells amongst us and brings us Life and hope and will move us towards justice and peace.
We are also grateful for your prayers about our future and we have news. We have earlier mentioned the project in the north, near Tripoli, which has a school for the unschooled migrant children. We tried to raise funds for Emil and Reem to restart this school in an unfinished house nearby. Well, we have enough funds to do the fitting out and as we were sitting in it praying, we realised that we could live here and be involved more directly in the work. Sylvia has found the doors that were open for her to work in Beirut were now shut. My work I now do remotely since lockdowns changed the way we work. As the village of Sakhra is only one and a half hours drive from Beirut, we can return to Beirut once a week. I can have meetings at RCB and Sylvie can check up on her refugee friends in Bourj Hammoud, where there are about 10 families she cares for.
As we realised this, we got quite excited about working and living in this quiet rural community with Emil and Reem. We realise that the school needs to become more established, and if we don’t do it, then it may never really get going again. But if we stay for the next three years it is possible that the school could develop into a better and more sustainable operation.
Moving to Sakhra
The next month is very busy because the building needs water, electric and drains, and we need to fix some doors and windows too – all before the end of September, just in case the Government does allow the schools to restart.
We plan to move our stuff up in about a month. Our new life in this rural area will necessitate us having a car and Emil and Reem have a car which they bought for a reasonable cost but now want to sell. So, we intend to buy their car, but to do this we need to ask for help with the cost which will be $3500. The running costs we will fund from our normal income. Gifts for the car should be sent to CMS and marked for the ‘Car fund for Phil and Sylvie Good’.
So there is much change afoot and there is much to pray for:
- For wisdom and effectiveness in fitting the house out for a school
- For making a place for us to live
- For wisdom in how to start the new school year within Covid realities
- For good decisions about which teachers we can employ and the funds to pay them
- For good relations with our Beirut communities as we move away
- For funds to buy the car
- For good relationships with the new community
- For opportunities to share the security found in Jesus
The village is called Sakhra – this word is Arabic for rock. We find in Jesus a rock of security in the midst of great insecurity. This is our central message.
Keep up to date with the Goods
Phil’s blog: www.philipthegood.com
CMS website: www.churchmissionsociety.org/good