BACKGROUND: Lebanon has long suffered from war both within and beyond its borders with Syria and Israel. Its geographic, cultural and religious diversity make it unique in the Middle East. Many estimate the refugee population to be 25 to 33 percent of the overall population, and most refugees are from Syria. Many churches actively serve the refugees, who have limited resources and little to no rights in the country.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Muslims, evenly divided between Sunni and Shiite, are a slight majority, while Christians make up a large minority group. There is a small Druze minority, a secretive and monotheistic faith that sometimes persecutes Christians.
PERSECUTOR: Various extremist groups, including Hezbollah in the south and other Shiite regions, actively persecute Christians. Islamic extremist cells are active near the Syrian border. In rural communities, Christians are persecuted by their tribe and family.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN LEBANON: Lebanon has a reputation of being a free country and is highly westernized in urban areas. Those who are Christian by birth are allowed to worship in church buildings. Christians face ongoing harassment from the Muslim majority, such as denial of land acquisition and increased tax rates. More severe forms of persecution occur when believers share their faith or when Muslims convert to Christianity. Christian converts from Islam are persecuted mostly by family and the community.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: A variety of Bibles are available through Bible societies, local churches and book stores.
VOM WORK: VOM helps meet the basic needs of Christian refugees. VOM partners with local churches to provide them with Bibles as well as medical and education assistance. We also support a broad network of evangelists in frontier areas and support training for Christian leaders.