An Interview with Paul Codouni
After 25 years, the Servants of the Word again have a household in Lebanon. Depending on one’s perspective, this could not come at a better or worse time. Politically the country has been somewhat dysfunctional for years, the pandemic has of course challenged Lebanon like any other country, and the economy is in freefall: the GDP has contracted by more than a fifth, and wages have melted down due to exchange rate changes. The average salary of a teacher is now about $60 a month and falling. Residents have to queue for petrol daily, medicine is in shortage and electricity is being rationed with no clear solution in sight.
All this has impacted community life quite drastically: it has become difficult to run residential events, simply for cost reasons. Many people, in particular young men, are leaving Lebanon during or right after their studies, simply in order to make a living somewhere else.
Our plans to open a house preceded both the pandemic and the economic crisis, of course, but one cannot help but think that the timing of our move might have something providential in it.
We currently have six men in our household: John Keating, former Presiding Elder, who knows the People of God community very well. He leads the house, does some mentoring and also serves in UCO, the local student outreach. Joe Fahd looks after the house as a steward, leads our mission year program, and teaches English as a foreign language online. I serve with UCO, do some IT and administration for the Sword of the Spirit and help with youth work in one of the sectors of the community. Anthony Daoud works for a software company and Fernando Pelayo, an affiliate from Mexico, is doing his mission year with us.
Thanks to the generosity of our families in Lebanon, we were given an apartment which we were able to design to specifications. Two months ago we were finally able to move in: before the move we lived in the community center, a central but somewhat noisy place. The new location sits further up in the mountains, so it is cooler in the summer and definitively quieter. We would appreciate prayers for the men individually and for the household as a group as we get established in the new apartment. The two communities in Lebanon, the People of God and the Illuminator’s Lamp have been a great support for the Servants of the Word over the years and we are happy to be able to be serving with them here during this crucial time.