Beirut Noir

Posted By Scott Campbell
May 2, 2016
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Several years ago I was working for an organization that was doing development work in Swaziland, Africa. Within the first two weeks of starting in that role, I was on a plane to visit the work first hand. As I write this I’m sitting in the lobby of an airport hotel in Frankfurt Germany, hours away from getting on a flight to Lebanon to experience firsthand MCC in action. Our group of 11 will witness both the front lines of the Syrian refugee crisis and the development and peace making work that has been taking place for years in this country before the current refugee crisis hit the headlines.

On my initial trip to Swaziland, I brought along a book to read titled, “28: Stories of AIDS in Africa” by Stephanie Nolen. At the time, Swaziland had the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. This crisis was the impetus for the development work being advanced in a small town called Bulembu. I found that reading the stories and first person experiences of those most affected by this crisis amplified the experience for me. Not only was my own story unfolding but it was being informed by a narrative that was the undercurrent of my interactions with the people I met and worked with in the country.

“I hope to bring back with me stories and messages of impact for you as an encouragement and as a “thank you.”  Those of you who choose to live generously through MCC are not merely a partner or a donor… You are living out the MCC vision to share God’s love and compassion to all in the name of Christ…”

So in planning for this trip to Lebanon, I sought out a companion book. When it’s time to call it a night this evening, I’ll start in on “Beirut Noir,” edited by Iman Humaydan Younes. This book is an anthology of 21 Lebanese writers from different neighbourhoods in Beirut. I’m hopeful this book will do for my experience of Lebanon what Stephanie Nolen’s book did for Swaziland.

In the days leading up to my departure, my wife Margaret pointed out that “not everyone gets to visit Lebanon.” True. Though the country and the surrounding regions have been very much top of mind for those who follow the news, I don’t think it’s been a prime vacation destination for most since the most recent round of conflicts. So I feel a little like a proxy for all of you who have given so generously of your resources to support those in great need in Lebanon, Syria and the Middle East generally. I also feel like an ambassador for those who have been such faithful givers for the years and decades previous. I hope to bring back with me stories and messages of impact for you as an encouragement and as a “thank you.”  Those of you who choose to live generously through MCC are not merely a partner or a donor, though these titles are appropriate. You are living out the MCC vision to share God’s love and compassion to all in the name of Christ, and therefore, really are so much of the heart of this organization.

The time change is starting to affect the weight of my eyelids. Tomorrow will come more quickly than I expect I’m sure. Time to try to get a good sleep so I can be ready to take in whatever is in store.

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The Beginning

Posted By Scott Campbell
April 6, 2016
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It was Monday the 1st, just this past February when I arrived at the MCC Centre in Abbotsford eager to start my first day as the organization’s new Advancement Director. I had some idea of what to expect. I was hired to oversee MCC BC’s fundraising, marketing, communications, and community engagement initiatives. It is work I am passionate about, and after four plus years as a VP at Trinity Western University, I was ready for a new challenge.

As I write this, I am just days away from my first MCC Learning Tour. I’m joining a group that will be spending ten days in Lebanon, engaging with our partners in the region, gaining some greater understanding of the Syrian refugee crisis, and contextualizing it all by learning about the country’s long, rich and storied history.

“I know that there is a lot for me to learn. I’m sure at times I’ll be overwhelmed, tired, and wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. I’m equally confident, however, that there will also be times when I am in awe, full of joy, and grateful for the work God is doing through MCC.”

Over the coming months, I hope to have the opportunity to meet all of our MCC BC donors, volunteers and friends (accomplishing this in months might be very optimistic, but I’m going to try). It seems to me that a good place to start is by introducing myself, and I’ve chosen to do this through a series of blog posts. I hope that you’ll get to know me a little while I get to know the work of MCC more intimately on this trip. I hope you will check in with this new blog, “At The Centre” where our MCC BC Advancement Team and I, based at the MCC Centre here in Abbotsford, will be sharing stories, insights and challenges we will find ourselves in the middle of as we work to advance the mission of MCC.

The first installments of this new blog will be daily reports from my trip to Lebanon. I know that there is a lot for me to learn. I’m sure at times I’ll be overwhelmed, tired and wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. I’m equally confident, however, that there will also be times when I am in awe, full of joy, and grateful for the work God is doing through MCC. My commitment is to give you an insight into the work taking place in Lebanon through these blog posts, and at the same time give you some insight into who I am. These posts can be the first steps we take towards getting to know each other.

To MCC donors, let me take a moment in this initial blog to say “thank you.” Thank you for your commitment to this organization and to the work it is accomplishing with your help. You have stewarded the resources God has blessed you with to grow an organization that is doing remarkable work. Congratulations and thank you for the privilege of being part of what you are doing.

To everyone else, volunteers, friends of MCC, personal friends, and family, I hope you will enjoy these posts and that they give you a glimpse into this remarkable organization. Welcome to “At The Centre.”