At the Syrian border in Zahleh, Lebanon, everyday 300 refugee families who have been forced to flee from Syria after islamists targeted Christian homes, are fed at the St. John the Merciful Table with the support of Aid to the Church in Need.

The St. John the Merciful Table is an initiative inspired by the life of St John the Merciful, a 6th-7th century saint, noted for his generosity to the poor and suffering. Wherever he saw a need, he strove with all his resources to help. By the time he became patriarch of Alexandria he was feeding some 7900 poor people every day. He died in the year 619 and is honoured today as a saint both by Catholic and by Orthodox Christians.

The centre has been up and running since December 2015 and is a place of welcome for all those who cannot afford a hot meal every day – including many Syrian refugees, but at the same time a growing number of Lebanese also.

Every day around 1000 people are given a hot meal here. Some 800 or so come to the centre themselves to eat, while another 200 or so, who are handicapped, frail, elderly or sick, are visited at home by volunteers from the centre, with a hot meal – and also with words of spiritual comfort and human warmth.

The idea is to provide food not only for the body but also for the soul and offer spiritual and psychological support to those who need it. The project represents an important contribution to the effort to prevent the emigration of Christians from the region, since otherwise many of these people would likely be forced to try and move abroad in order to feed themselves and their families.

ACN is supporting this excellent project once again this year, and your kind donation this lent can help provide the next hot meal for a needy family in this relief kitchen.