5 August 2021
On Lebanon’s National Day of Mourning for the more than 200 victims of the 4 August 2020 explosion, SAT-7 aired a 90-minute programme of faith-filled testimonies from bereaved families, filmed at the site of the blast.
Presenter and producer Sirene Semerdjian said, “Today we return here to tell everyone who was hurt that there is hope. To say to every person who lost someone dear to their heart there is resurrection. And to say to the world, from the heart of destroyed Beirut, Beirut does not die. And to you Beirut, to Beirut, peace.”
In the opening sequence, cameras rose above the shattered grain silos and desolation of the port as viewers heard the haunting words and melody of a famous Lebanese love song for the city, “For Beirut”. This was performed by a specially assembled choir and pianist in front of a backdrop of wreckage and shipping containers.
A series of guests, including some who had lost relatives at this same spot, courageously joined Sirene Semerdjian to tell their stories. Carlene Karam lost her husband, Charbel, her sister, Najib, and her cousin, Charbel. All were firefighters who died trying to extinguish the fire.
Carlene said, “In the beginning, I asked the Lord to take this cup away from me. I did not want to lose them.” After their deaths, she “prayed that one of them be like Lazarus”. Finally, God consoled here with the assurance that “what the Lord did with them was more than what He did for Lazarus. He returned Lazarus to our temporary, earthly life, but he gave my family eternal life.”
The wife, son and daughter of Ghassan Hasrouty were one of two families who took part. Ghassan was employed at the grain silo. A year ago, shortly after the blast, his son Elie spoke to Sirene’s SAT-7 programme You Are Not Alone. At that time, he had no idea if his father was still alive. His death was confirmed only weeks later.
Elie shared that the most challenging moment was watching his sister give birth whilst his father was still under the rubble. Elie shared that the family would never have endured what they have been through if it wasn’t for Jesus.
“Of course, there is despair and surrender and doubt,” he said. “But, at the same time, there is a journey with the Lord; a journey of freedom, a journey of trust in God, who I know through Jesus Christ.”
Another guest was May Melki, a now 80-year-old woman, whose calm piano playing in her blast-damaged home, filmed on a mobile phone, went viral a year ago.
“Seeing all this damage and destruction, both in human life and in materials, I thought ‘God, you protected me,’” she explained. “What is my role? Because you have been merciful to me… let me express from now on feelings of love, hope, reconciliation and forgiveness.”
After each interview, guests were given a white balloon to write on a personal prayer or message. They then let these fly above the port as words of peace, hope and resurrection for a nation still traumatised by last year’s explosion and its effects.
From its television studios in Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, Cyprus and London, SAT-7 continues to offer Christian hope and support to a region facing challenges of many kinds.