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World News

'Thank God no one was here because they would be dead' says pastor who sent everyone home early

by Cara Bentley

Christians from Beirut have been telling Premier how the huge explosion has affected their ministry. 

One church pastor who works at the 'Life Center' in Beirut - which runs childrens' clubs, provides food to refugees and is a 20 minute drive from the explosion site - has told Premier of his relief that he sent everyone home early from work on Tuesday before the disaster happened. 

Said Deeb told Premier he doesn't know why he did it but he told everyone to go home and get some rest because he was worrried about coronavirus. There are normally 34 people and 240 children at the Life Center each day.

"I thank God no one was here because if it would be anyone here they would be dead because the windows flew from the side, from one wall to another wall, and took everything in between - the curtains, the air conditioning, the tables, the computers, the televisions."

He is now raising money to repair the damage: "The church [is] without curtains, without windows, without doors. The cameras fell down, broke the TV screens - some of them still working - four or five big screens broke. The apartment of the church is without gates, without windows. You see holes in the wall, big holes but no metal, no aluminium, nothing. All the frames were removed." 

Said has filmed and posted photos of the damage on facebook, showing windows lying in the middle of Sunday school rooms, parts of the ceiling and wires hanging down into offices and tables and plant pots turned on their side in hallways. 

 

 

Scott Keranen is a missionary for Youth for Christ and has lived in Lebanon for ten years. He told Premier he had friends staying with him when it happened: "The first thing that happened was the house shook and I thought it was an earthquake. The power went off and then there was a brief gap and then there was this huge noise and wind that rushed in, and all of a sudden it was like every crevice of every windowsill rushed out with dust. 

"Then I thought 'bomb', that was where my mind went immediately...it felt like a hurricane mixed with a bomb and went on for a few seconds and then it stopped. It was a very terrifying moment for me and my guests in the house."

The National Evangelical Church of Beirut, just half an hour's walk from the explosion, posted: "We thank the Lord that the members of our congregation have not been physically harmed by the explosion, and, as we continue our tradition of rebuilding after disaster, we pray for those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their possessions."

Many charities were straight to work, providing food. One of them was Triumphant Mercy, also a childrens' charity, whose found Nuna Matar told Premier they had suffered broken shutters but were out providing sandwiches to key workers and the homeless on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, George Makeen who works for Christian TV station Sat-7 was in Cyrprus and told Premier: "I heard the noise of the explosion. I thought there was a thunderstorm, the day before there was a thunderstorm, which is rare in that time of the year. I was looking in the sky, it was very clear. Some people thought the Turks are attacking Cyprus again, we didn't know what it was. And then we started to hear the news and at the beginning I didn't believe that we were able to hear the noise from from Cyprus. I'm based 240 kilometers away from Beirut port. So for the noise to cross the ocean to us, it tells you how big it is."

 

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