?Once again, our country and people have been the victim of a terrorist attack,? says Nabil Costa, Baptist leader of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development. Last September, Costa led the group of Lebanese Baptists that welcomed delegates of the European Baptist Federation to that country for the EBF annual meeting. During that time, the general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance was among the group of European Baptist leaders that included Billy Taranger EBF President and others who met with Hariri.
?Pray that God gives the Lebanese people wisdom that they do not react negatively to this huge loss that befell us,? says Costa. In a massive outpouring of grief thousands of people, ?the largest crowd ever seen in Lebanon,? says one report, followed Hariri?s coffin from the palace to the Mohammed al Amin Mosque where he was buried.
?Christians in that area have a strategic role in the region,? says Costa. ?Please pray that the occasional apparent success of evil attempts do not succeed in dissuading us from the task that is before us.?
Both the Baptist World Alliance and the European Baptist Federation sent condolences. Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary sent the following letter to the Lebanon Baptist Convention.
?Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with great sorrow that we learned of the terrorist attack upon the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and nine others as well as hundreds of civilians.
Please accept the condolences and sympathy of the Baptist World Alliance during these difficult days for Lebanon. Men and women of good will have prayed for Lebanon for years and have been grateful that peace came to your country after a tragic civil war. We pray that the Christians and Muslims of your country will come together and recognize the need for reconciliation and peace.
A personal word of sympathy to the Hariri family: Prime Minister Hariri was a friend of religious freedom, justice and fairness for all people. On two occasions I had the opportunity to meet him and was always impressed with the spirit of fairness and concern that he had for other people. He was a friend of religious freedom. I remember on one occasion he said if a Muslim man is married to a Christian woman it is the responsibility of the husband to take the wife to church on Sunday. He insisted that Muslims and Christians could get along and that it was unfair to accuse one another of terrorism.
During meetings of the European Baptist Federation held last September, Prime Minister Hariri, in speaking to our delegation, indicated the need for Christians and Muslims to work together for peace in the Middle East.
Baptist brothers and sisters around the world continue to condemn theses senseless acts of violence and terrorism. We pray that we might all learn to live together and seek that justice for which Christ died for all humanity.
On behalf of the President of the Baptist World Alliance, Dr. Billy Kim, and myself, we send sympathy to the people of Lebanon and to our brothers and sisters there. May peace come again to the great country of Lebanon!?
Billy Taranger, president of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), wrote:
?Our thoughts go to our EBF Council meeting in Beirut in September and the very good atmosphere we had and our friendly host.
During the days in Beirut we had the privilege to meet with Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in his private home. We had an interesting conversation with him and could talk in a warm and friendly way. He explained for us the situation of different religions and leaders in Lebanon, but assured us that it was so important to respect each other and to live in peace.
We want to send our condolences to the people of Lebanon and to our sisters and brothers in the Convention of the Evangelical Baptist Churches in Lebanon, President Ghassan Khalaf and General Secretary Samuel Kharrat.
We pray that there will be peace and calm in Lebanon, and that this will only be one sad and terrible act of a small fanatic group of people.?
Meeting with heads of state. (L-R) Samuel Kharrat, Lebanese Convention Vice President; Nabil Costa, Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development; Billy Taranger, EBF president; Ghassan Khalaf, president of the Evangelical Baptist Churches of Lebanon; Prime Minister Hariri; Tony Peck, EBF general secretary; Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary; Theo Angelov, former EBF general secretary.
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