Lebanon – One Year Later

It’s coming up on one year since I went to Beirut, Lebanon and I realized I haven’t done a proper wrap-up post. It’s actually kind of nice to have some time and perspective on the trip. So much has happened since last summer and so much had happened leading up to it. It is really amazing.

I had just left the church in Peoria after a dizzying chain of events that I still can’t quite explain. We saw God do amazing things most notably by selling our two-month-old house in four days for more than we paid for it. He really wanted us out of there! But we didn’t know where to go. No job, no house, no prospects, really. So Olivia’s Dad, Keith Curlee, felt like the Lord wanted him to take me to Beirut on his next trip. He has a ministry there (Triumphant Mercy Lebanon) that partners with local believers. In 2007 they opened a prayer and worship center in a mall called the Tent of Praise, or TOP. We went for a month and stayed with the family that leads the TOP and ministered with the precious people there.

It was great to just be a part of what God is doing in the Middle East. I played bass in the worship times (I had never done that before — they were short a bass player), I spoke at the youth meetings, and conducted some music clinics on songwriting, playing, etc. I was even honored to lead worship one night at the TOP (in English, of course :). I got to experience a lot of the Lebanese culture (you can look back at the older posts for stories).

What struck me the most was the power of the Holy Spirit to make vast cultural differences so insignificant. When it came down to it, we were brothers and sisters in the Lord and that made us fast friends. We still keep up with each other on Facebook and I hope I get the opportunity to go back. When I think about Lebanon, I get a strange feeling that I’ve struggled to define. Like any “mission trip,” there is great spiritual fire that happens and you long to be back in that place of seeing God use you and seeing people’s live changed in amazing ways. But this is deeper – the Cedars have a strong effect on you.

New Songs, Nations, Young People

I wrote these down before I left. I felt that these words summed up what God had shown me in Lebanon. In fact, I’ve already seen the fruit of them here in NYC.

Nations – There is no other city in the world that has so many nations represented and living together. The nations are truly represented here. I believe that’s one of the things God has placed on my heart – to reach out to the nations; to minister His power in different cultures. To not only help bring change to the nations, but to be changed by the nations.

New Songs – Since I’ve come to New York I’ve written more songs in a short time than at any other time since I started writing songs. I’ve probably written twenty or thirty this year. Not all of them are keepers, of course, but I have been overwhelmed by the inspiration. Many are spiritual/worship in nature, but many are just about life and relationships. In Lebanon, I feel the Lord cemented the fact that I am a writer of songs by allowing me to teach others how to do it.

Young People – I remember a prophecy I received at IHOP back in 2007. The guy said that the Lord was fascinated at how I loved young people. This struck a chord with me because I do. I feel God has given me a heart for the young. To see them go further in their gifts and further in their relationship with Him. I haven’t seen as much fruition of that yet, but my awareness is surely up. I’m waiting for God to bring opportunities to work with and encourage young people.

So, that’s just a few of the impressions and insights the Lord gave me in Lebanon and since. I’m even more thankful than last year that Triumphant Mercy paid for me to go (not an inexpensive endeavor) and that I got to be a part of something much larger than me: God moving in the Middle East.

Lebanon Day 25-30

My last few days in Lebanon were a whirlwind.  I finished teaching the music classes.  They were awesome and the students did so much.  Great fellowship, too.  The culmination was Sunday when Michel was ordained.  I’ve uploaded several pics on Flickr.  There were about 100 people there.  So many testimonies of Michel and Nouna’s ministry and impact.  They actually had to be cut off for time.  I pray the Lord allows me to have that kind of influence and favor.


I’m back in Nashville now.  The trip back ended up being about 30 hours.  They didn’t have enough fuel to fill up the plane in Beirut, so we had to fly to Cypress and fuel up for the flight to Frankfurt.  That made us late for the flight to Chicago, etc., etc.  They did bump me up to business class for the nine hour Chicago flight so I could be with Keith.  It was amazing!  The seats were like beds and the food was great and never ending :).  It is great to be back with Olivia.  We’re headed to New York City tomorrow to see if the Lord wants us there.  I’ll try to post a wrap up of the Lebanon trip in the next few days.  Thanks for reading!!!

Lebanon Day 24

Wednesday we went to the album release/press conference for top Arabic recording artist Grace Deeb.  She is a part of the Tent of Praise and a precious believer.  We were in downtown Beirut and there were many photographers and music video people.  I don’t know his name, but it looked the Ryan Seacrest of the Middle East was there hosting :).  I texted Olivia that I was going to be famous in Lebanon because of all the pictures and videos taken of our table.  They even asked my name!  It was great fun.

Thanks, Grace, for inviting!


Lebanon Day 23

Tuesday Michel took me to Byblos.  I love historical places like this.  Some consider this to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.  The people are even mentioned in the Old Testament as bringing the Cedars from Lebanon to help construct Solomon’s Temple.  As you can see from the pics, it’s mostly ruins now, but what ruins they are.  The size of the stones…unbelievable.  We noticed a Star of David carved into one of the stones, and the Temple refrence makes sense.  Anyone else know the story?  You don’t see many Stars of David in Lebanon.


Lebanon Day 21-22

Sunday night and again Tuesday night I went with Keith to Abundant Life Church in Beirut.  He spoke and I sang two songs.  The people received me and the songs so graciously.  Wonderful young people who wanted to talk about music and worship.  Afterwards the pastor took us to another great Lebanese feast that lasted until two in the morning.  The Lebanese love to eat!

The Lord is so amazing and so wonderful.  He gives us good gifts.  He wants to give us good gifts.  So often I feel like it’s a stretch to think that the Lord would want me to have the desires of my heart, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  He desires Himself to give me the longings of my heart — he put them there in the first place!

More tomorrow…

Lebanon Day 20

Saturday we travelled to the South to visit some families that Michel and Nouna worked with during the war in 2006.  They were amazing and it was so moving to sit with them and hear their view and stories.  Lots of Arabic coffee and good, in season, watermelon.  On the way down it was fascinating to see all the sights from thousands of banana and citrus trees to the UN peacekeeping troops and vehicles, to the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon.