Written by Daniel Hazard
A UCC/Disciples' Global Ministries missionary intern in Beirut was able to flee war-torn Lebanon, with the help of church staff at home and partners abroad.
Ruth Edens and about 30 other evacuated young adults initially were taken to a hotel in Amman, Jordan, where members of the UCC's partner churches there have been caring for them. Ruth, daughter of the Revs. Rick and Jill Edens, pastors of United Church of Chapel Hill in North Carolina, flew on to Istanbul, Turkey, where she stayed with missionaries Ken and Betty Frank until the Edens were able to meet her there and accompany her home to the United States.
The Edens say they have been blessed with an outpouring of love and concern from across the church, including phone calls from the UCC's Collegium of Officers, assuring prayers and support.
Meanwhile, Mary Mikhael, president of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, who was in the United States attending the UCC/Disciples' National Women's Event, was able to make it safely back into Lebanon just as others were scrambling to leave.
Her against-the-grain route took her from Indianapolis to Louisville, Ky., to Detroit, to Amsterdam, then Damascus, Syria. From there, a driver took her into a bombed-out Beirut - "despite the fear of my mother and the disagreement of my sisters."
"I am still in a state of shock. What Lebanon has built in 15 years Israel destroyed in six days," Mikhael wrote by e-mail on July 18. "The suburb of Beirut has been flattened by daily fighter attacks, some children are still under the rubble. Thirty thousand people are now displaced with new Israeli promises of more destruction of villages. A systematic and relentless destruction of the entire country - the human tragedy is enlarged day by day."
Also, on July 17, the Revs. Martin and Betty Bailey alerted UCC leaders that their daughter, Sue, who works for the World Bank in Beruit, was able to evacuate safely from Lebanon into the Jordainian frontier.
"The plan is that all the Beirut United Nations/World Bank evacuees will spend the night at a resort hotel on the Dead Sea, where the U.N. and World Bank frequently hold meetings in more secure surroundings, and have a debriefing in the morning," Martin Bailey wrote.