By Camille Melki

Two things in Lebanon, and the surrounding region, are on a sharp increase; radicalism and immigration. 

The political conflicts and wars in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq are fueling radial movements in the entire Middle East region. Those wars, and the serious economic deterioration and socio-political struggles of Lebanon, are encouraging the younger generations to seek refuge in other parts of the world. 

Immigration is causing irreversible demographic shifts in ethnic and religious groups. It is also causing a serious brain-drain on the society and mostly in the church communities. The educated, talented, and capable young people of Lebanon are losing hope for their country and desiring to live elsewhere. A generational loss is starting to emerge.

Heart for Lebanon believes the only solution to radicalism and immigration is a purposeful investment in the next generation; raising young men and women after God’s own heart. For that reason, we continue to increase our investments in non-formal education and in scholarship support to students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment nor would they have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and grow in Christ’s likeness.

Change in Lebanon and the Middle East starts with changed minds and hearts. This change, for it to be effective, needs to start at a young age. Winning the heart of a child leads to winning the heart of his/her family. Every parent dreams of a better future for their children. Heart for Lebanon is offering that opportunity to local and refugee kids not only through formal and non-formal education but also through our Hope on Wheels fun activities, sports, and clubs. Those activities are meant to bring a smile to poverty-stricken children and to also introduce biblically-based character traits in fun learning models. If we want to see change, we need to think children first!

Young and old are drawn to our relational engagement activities where they feel loved, cared for, and respected. Children play and learn and adults observe and cherish the change happening in the lives of their loved ones. Recently, a mother of one of our Hope on Wheels students sent us her daughters grade report. Alaa came first in her class and her mother wrote, “Because of your scholarship support and your Hope on Wheels programs, my daughter has a brighter future and I personally am regaining hope in humanity.” This young girl’s future was shattered by the war in Syria. Her family’s miseries continued in Lebanon due to the difficult living conditions as a refugee in such a major economic downfall. Today, both Alaa and her family’s hope is being restored; hope in a good education, hope in a better future, but also hope in Christ as they are regular participants in our Bible classes.   

Remember, Jesus said in Mathew 19:14 “let the children come to me…” This is an honest and clear invitation for us to invite children into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for joining us in educating, loving, and caring for the precious young people in Lebanon; both locals and refugees. For through them, we can hope for a better future. And through your gifts, we can see a change in their lives. Children first!

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