ANDERSON — Churchgoers will have the opportunity to make a difference in Anderson by learning about conflicts in the Middle East this weekend.
Camille Melki, founder and executive director of Heart for Lebanon, will visit East Side Church of God on Saturday as part of the church’s “Mission Accepted Experience.” He’ll talk about the devastation and refugee community in Lebanon after a war between Israel and Hezbollah broke out.
Pastor Mark Shaner said the event is an opportunity to hear about conflicts on the other side of the world from someone who has experienced it.
“As North Americans, we often feel like we’re the center of the universe and the world revolves around us,” Shaner said. “Until it impacts us, like 9/11, it smacks us; not everyone, but the vast majority don’t understand what’s going on and just draw conclusions.”
It’s different to get soundbites from CNN or Fox News than to hear directly from someone who’s seen what’s going on, Shaner said.
Melki was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but he already has Anderson ties. He’s an alumnus of Anderson University and has worked with East Side Church of God for years.
He was president of Mediterranean Bible College from 1997 to 2006, until he decided to start Heart for Lebanon. The ministry focuses on helping refugees with physical, emotional and spiritual care, as well as empowering them to become leaders in the area.
It’s a message Shaner thinks will help educate the people of Anderson, but also help the local community.
While spiritual leaders want to attract members to the church, Shaner also wants people to understand that missionary work is important, too. While working on a global scale is important, there are things residents can do around Madison County.
East Side Church of God holds various events throughout the year to help the community. From a block party that also helps with supplies before school starts each year to passing out cookies to first responders, bettering the community is important to the ministry.