NESSL Update: The educational ministry for refugee children in Lebanon
Written by Dr. Mary Mikhael*
Greetings in the precious Name of Jesus our Lord.
We praise God who is loving compassionate and merciful.
Before I convey two experiences about the children who are being educated by the Church, please allow me to appeal for prayers by all of you to our God who is able, to have mercy on the people in Aleppo.
People are being killed by shells where families are buried under the rubble of their homes and persons are burned on the streets being rocketed from many sides.
Aleppo is a great ancient city, a city suffering destruction as never before. Its Churches, Mosques, schools and homes are hit blindly. News people report of the numbers killed in the last hours, or the last two days, or this week, as if killing has become all that is possible or is the daily norm. We have lost hope that the world cares or is able to cry against violence any more.
But our hope in God is our refuge. Please pray with us.
Signs of Hope:
1. On Thursday of last week, I visited together with the Rev. Saoud the educational project in our Church in Tyre-South of Lebanon. This project started in April. Children are between 6-11 years of age, divided into three levels. In the first, I asked children if they were happy and what do they feel in this program. Obviously all said they were very happy. One sweet girl was introduced as the one who can recite 30 biblical verses non stop. In my mind I doubted, but the pastor asked her to start. She began by the verse, “You shall love the Lord your God..” and went on to other verses. Soon I hugged her and said this is enough and wonderful, and said all of us love you very much.
Some thing amazed me in the third level when the pastor asked who knows a verse about love?
Every child raised hand and began telling the verses from 1st Cor. 13. Most of those verses were recited. I felt I want to cry…. It is surely love that brought those children to this program and surely love will keep them there.
After visiting with the classes and witnessed the joy on their faces and their enthusiasm about learning biblical verses, the pastor and his wife, who is in charge of the program, told us stories of other types of ministries the Church was doing with refugee women in the city.
The pastor said, “I tell the teachers to think of this program as a healing hospital more than a school”.
Praise be to God who has enabled the Church to reach out to the hopeless and nurture hope in their hearts. Indeed it is a healing ministry.
Please continue to pray for the Church in Tyre to be able to reach out to the many refugees and show them the love of God.
2. Two days later on Saturday I attended the Presbyterian women’s Annual meeting that took place in the Bekaa valley. I am sure you will be told about by the preacher Najla Kassab. women from all the Presbyterian Churches in Lebanon came accompanied by their pastors.
However my second story is also about children in the Church programs.
I asked the Rev. Hadi Ghantous about the program run by his wife Anna (75 children). His immediate response was, “I want to buy them shoes and clothes”, I asked what is it? literary his eyes got wet, and continued to say, “You will not believe the misery of those children, the clothes they wear and their shoes… he said I can not think about one of those girls without crying….
“The girl wears sandals that only the parts under the heals are there, the parts under the toes are not there. so half of her feet on the ground…. I want to buy them shoes and cloths so to be able to live with myself…. my eyes were filled with tears and said please go ahead we will find ways to cover the cost….
Indeed how can we live with ourselves when we know of children in such a miserable situation?
Rev. Hadi is not going to postpone meeting such need and the Church is moving to do whatever it can .
Dear friends and partners, we depend on God first and on you to be able to be a healing hospital in all the projects we carry both in Syria with the displaced and with the refugees in Lebanon.
To God be the Glory In Christ.
*Dr. Mikhael is a staffperson for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the immediate past president of the Near East School of Theology, and a former member of the Common Global Ministries Board of Directors.
The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries’ partners’ relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), the Week of Compassion (Disciples), or through Global Ministries directly.