January 25 – 29, 2021 thirteen volunteers boarded a special virtual zoom Mission Express from the United States to Lebanon. They arrived in Beirut and were greeted at the airport by Rosette Mansour, Senior Partner Relations Officer from the Lebanese Society for Educational & Social Development(LSESD), who would take the team on a virtual ride through the city to the offices of LSESD. This was to be a pioneering, formative, informational and intentional unique 5-Day virtual Discovery trip for two partners, IM and LSESD. The team members came from Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Here is an excerpt of what transpired in the heart of one team member, June Bunce:
” On January 5th, my sister Daryn sent me and our other two sisters an email inviting us to participate in a virtual mission trip to Lebanon. I had never been on a mission trip, I had certainly never been to Lebanon (I’ve never had a desire to go, to be honest), and $45 seemed like a reasonable fee, so I thought, “Why not?” I figured at the very least I’d walk away with a few tidbits about Lebanon that I could show off to my friends and family, and at most I would leave the trip with a more heightened awareness about the plight of cultures outside of my bubble that I would carry with me until that spark eventually died out. I never would have guessed that a 5-day virtual mission trip would have impacted me as powerfully as it did.
Learning about Lebanon that first day – and about how its history, the governmental infrastructure, the effects of war in the surrounding countries, and the coronavirus have led to a perfect storm of need – was extremely powerful and necessary. It helped personalize a nation I had always felt was so separate from me. It was more relatable to me now. I believe that relatability played a crucial role in how I was affected by the next four days. As I watched and listened to representatives from LSESD and partnering organizations teach us about the challenges facing the people of Lebanon and what they are doing to meet the need of those around them, I could more clearly see myself in both the mission workers and those receiving care. I was especially impacted by the work of MERATH, and their passionate efforts to ensure that those after them inherit a better world.”
Over the years, STM and the Europe and Middle East desk have seen LSESD and its ministry ready to shine its beacon of light in that region of the Arab world. Hearts like June’s are transformed through relationships formed through the local churches, volunteers, staff, teachers and God’s servants who are led by the Holy Spirit to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” It only took five days for June’s heart to thirst for more. What about yours?
On behalf of the IM staff, we thank our hosts at LSESD and the nine other volunteers who were part of this January 2021 Mission Express, new way of serving cross-culturally. For more information about up-coming virtual Discovery Mission Express trips and one day virtual experiences, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org