Carlos Biaggi, an Argentine missionary in Lebanon, was flooded with messages and prayers from around the world after a powerful explosion rocked Beirut, killing nearly 200 people.
One of the messages that Carlos received came from an Argentine pastor with whom he previously had served as a missionary in Paraguay.
“I hope you are fine,” the friend wrote. “We are praying for you. I have contacts with the media in Buenos Aires. If someone wants to interview you, would you be willing?”
Carlos, who was not injured in the Aug. 4 blast, said he was willing to be interviewed by journalists in Argentina’s capital.
A few minutes later, the friend wrote that a journalist from C5N television, a 24-hour national news channel, wished to conduct an on-air interview the next day. The friend had an idea.
“When you see an appropriate time during the interview, give your personal testimony,” he said. “Because it’s a major television channel, I believe that the interview will be short, most probably about five minutes or seven at the most. If it is ten minutes, it will be a miracle.”
The subsequent interview, broadcast live across Argentina and other parts of the Spanish-speaking world, lasted an astounding nine minutes and fifty seconds. During that time, Carlos, dean of the business administration faculty at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Middle East University, described the wave of hot air that struck his face moments after a warehouse exploded in Beirut’s port. He spoke about efforts by the Adventist Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to respond to the tragedy, which killed at least 171 people, injured another 6,000, and left 300,000 without usable housing. At the request of the television host, he also shared his personal testimony about how God called him to work in Lebanon.
Carlos, who has lived in Lebanon for five and a half years, said the remarkable opportunity to share his love for Jesus was an answer to prayer.
“I asked my friend and family to pray for God to speak through me in the interview so that someone could be encouraged and it could be for God’s glory,” he said. Afterward “many Argentine friends who watched the interview reached out to tell me that their faith was encouraged by my testimony of God’s leading in our lives. Praise God!”
On the day of the explosion, Carlos was taking a walk with his children, 13-year-old Giuliana and 11-year-old Giovanni, on the campus of Middle East University, located about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the site of the blast. At the deafening roar of the explosion, they immediately dropped to the ground. Carlos, wondering whether a nuclear bomb had gone off, cried out, “God, help us!”
“We felt a wave of heat on our faces and saw the black cloud passing above us,” Carlos said in the television interview. “When we saw that our skin did not melt, I told my children to go home. I called my wife, who had gone out, and, thank God, she was fine.”
The university, however, sustained damage, he said later in the interview.
“There are broken glass and fallen windowpanes,” he said. “Parts of the ceiling collapsed in some university classrooms and offices, and several houses were damaged. Thank God, no one was hurt.”
He also said ADRA sprang into action to assist first responders and others at the scene of the devastation.
“Later they will be doing a damage assessment, but today people needed water and beds, and ADRA was able to assist with that,” he said.
Near the end of the interview, the television host asked Carlos how he ended up in Lebanon. Carlos said he had followed God’s leading to Beirut after receiving a doctorate in business from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines.
“They invited me to work here and said, ‘The truth is that it wouldn’t be easy,’” he said. “But I said, ‘If God wants me to go to Lebanon, I will go. If He doesn’t want me to go, I won’t go.’ No matter what family or friends said, God had to show me that this was the place where He wanted me to be.
“That day I prayed and opened my Bible to Isaiah 6,” he concluded. “What I read confirmed God’s plan for me because Isaiah replied, ‘Here I am, send me.’ I knew that this was a sign, and I thanked God.”
This article was originally published on the Adventist Mission’s website