Like the Cedars of Lebanon: Baptists Honored for Lifelong Service

Recognized for the promotion of women’s rights and inclusive education, two leading figures relate civil war struggles and the challenge of special needs.

Lebanese Baptists have reason to be proud. This month, two senior members of their community, Mona Khauli and Nabil Costa, were recognized for their faith-based work on behalf of their nation.

Mona Khauli, the 85-year-old executive director of the national Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), was honored by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) for her human rights work.

“Honor comes from God,” she said. “Having been in his service all these years, I do not need any from people.” She did, however, note her acceptance may be useful to inspire others.

Costa, general secretary of the Association of Evangelical Schools in Lebanon (AESL), was locally recognized with the inaugural Créel Award as one of the top luminaries hailing from his nation’s southern region for pioneering leadership in special needs education.

“As a son of Maghdoucheh, I am pleased to be honored here,” he said of his Greek Catholic agricultural village, located five miles southeast of Sidon, which hosted the ceremony. “But our victory comes only from the Lord.”

Khauli experienced such triumph firsthand amid constant loss due to the civil war.

Assuming her role in 1977 following many years of volunteering, Khauli was immediately plunged into the reality of ongoing bombardment in Muslim-dominated West Beirut. So she turned the YWCA headquarters into a women’s hostel, receiving displaced Lebanese of all religious confessions.

The Syrian general occupying their neighborhood assigned his men to mount a missile launcher on YWCA’s strategically-placed rooftop. Khauli rushed to confront him. We have women here, she told him. Would you accept men running through the quarters of your mother and …

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