On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion rocked Beirut, Lebanon, killing 190 people and wounding 6,500. Damage from the blast cost the city $15 billion and left 300,000 people homeless. The city will never be the same.
Pastor Said Deeb of Life Center Church in Beirut said on the day of the explosion, a strange feeling came over him – a combination of anxiety, anger, and sadness that shook him to the core. He said he prayed with his staff but didn't get a break-through and couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen.
"I don't know why I was so rude, I told everyone, 'Go home, go home, just close the Center'," Pastor Deeb explained. "But people said, 'How come? We came a long way, we have commitments, we have meetings.' I said I don't know why but please go home and come back on Sunday and it was a Tuesday afternoon," he said.
So Pastor Deeb sent his entire staff of 34 people home and canceled all children's Bible classes after sensing something terrible was about to happen.
"It was as if the Holy Spirit is saying, Go! Go! Go! Go! So I was saying everybody go home, turn off the computers, forcing them to leave, I was forcing them and they said, 'We are cooking, cooking food for the refugees and for the poor,' and I said, 'Today cancel everything, put it in the fridge'."
"They were thinking I lost my mind but they didn't know and I didn't know it was the Holy Spirit's prompting."
Life Center Church Beirut sits only about a mile from the explosion epicenter. He says the blast blew out windows and doors to the 4,000-square-meter facility and would have surely taken lives if anyone had been there. More than 200 people lost their lives in that explosion, thousands were injured, and tens of thousands are now without homes. But Pastor Deeb says he is seeing the Church come together more now than ever before on behalf of Beirut.
"The need all around us is huge, so people were coming from all over Lebanon to help clean the area where we are and we started sending them food and giving away drinks. And I thank God for the Body of Christ, people keep calling me from all over the world asking how they can help. It's the first time in my life I feel like the International Church is united together to help Lebanon and to help Beirut," Deeb said.
This story was originally published on August 14, 2020.