Lebanese Christian civil war foes shake hands, make up after 40 years

FILE PHOTO: Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his home in the Christian village of Maarab in the mountains overlooking the seaside town of Jounieh, October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Christian rivals from the Lebanese civil war, Samir Geagea and Suleiman Frangieh, shook hands with each other on Wednesday, marking a formal reconciliation to end more than four decades of enmity.

Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) political party, and Frangieh, head of the Marada party, have been foes since the early days of the 1975-1990 civil war.

The two parties had armed militias during the conflict that battled against each other. The war, which drew in regional powers, included fighting between the country’s main sects and rival factions within those sects.

The men, both Maronite Christians, met to reconcile at the seat of the sect’s Patriarch Bechara al-Rai in Bkerki, north of Beirut. They shook hands with Rai and then with each other after several failed reconciliation attempts over the years.

Geagea has been accused of leading a raid in 1978 on the home of Frangieh’s father, Tony Franjieh, a rival Maronite Christian chieftain, who was killed with his wife, daughter, and others. Geagea has said he was wounded before reaching Frangieh’s house and did not take part himself.

This is the second rapprochement of recent years between civil war Maronite Christian rivals.

In January 2016 Geagea endorsed then presidential candidate Michel Aoun for the Lebanese presidency, ending his own rival candidacy for the position, which must be held by a Maronite Christian under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system.

Geagea and Aoun, who fought each other in the 1975-90 civil war, have been on opposite sides of the political divide since Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2005.

President Aoun is a political ally of the Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, whereas Geagea is a staunch opponent of the group. Frangieh is a close ally of Syrian President and Hezbollah ally Bashar al-Assad.

Tony Frangieh, Suleiman’s son, said the reconciliation was a good thing for all Lebanese and was not connected to any presidential aims.

“We are looking forward to the future by achieving this reconciliation,” he told Lebanese broadcaster al-Jadeed at the ceremony.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington, Laila Bassam and Ellen Francis; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Jesus is the Bridge

The Bible says that if we say we are without sin, we are fooling ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8, Romans 3:10, James 3:2).  There have been times in my life that I needed great grace and even now, today, I am an imperfect man.  I have sinned – I am a sinner – no doubt about it.

This grace I need has a name – and his name is Jesus.  Jesus is the bridge that connects us, even though we are sinners, to our Father God.  It took two pieces of wood and three nails to build this bridge.  It’s a holy bridge – one of supreme sacrifice for our sins.

I need Jesus – and I need His Grace on a daily basis.  I remember a time when I thought I had sinned so badly that even Jesus had left me.  But in my darkest hours, He assured me that He would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).  I am His, and He is mine – and nothing will ever change that fact.

Yet, I am mystified that there are other Christians who want to blow up this bridge of forgiveness and reconciliation to our Father – a bridge that they themselves or maybe someone very close to them may need to cross over sometime in their lives.

There are people who want to condemn others who have sinned, and think themselves better off because their particular sin is not the one they are condemning.  Most often, when the perspective changes to yourself or others you love, the bridge will be in tact.

As soon as pride lifts its head, especially in the area of who and what the Blood of Jesus will or will not cover, you can be sure that Grace will much more abound (Romans 5:20).

Don’t blow up a bridge that you, yourself, or your loved one may need to cross at some point in their lives.  Others have crossed over this bridge, and it is on the road to their salvation.

If we need one thing in the End Times, it’s Grace and Love.  And we ALL need the Bridge by which we can be forgiven – Jesus.


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