by Tom Atema
First off, here’s a surprising statistic:
65% of the Arab population is under 25 years old!
This one statistic alone should prompt us to help reach as many youth as possible in the Arab world with the love of Jesus Christ – our future and theirs depends on it!
Now, I travel to Lebanon a few times each year and I am always asked the same question upon returning: “How was your trip?” My reply used to vary as I struggled to answer this question. BUT NOT ANY MORE! Even though it’s not great to witness firsthand the despair and hopelessness on the faces of refugees in Lebanon, especially the children, with every trip there I become more encouraged by the transformation and the potential I see within the refugee community in Lebanon.
To see 1,300 adults in Bible studies each month and 200+ Muslim-born Believers (MBB) on Sundays, worshiping together and reading the Bible is uplifting! To see their daily behaviors becoming more Christ-like encourages me. Watching children come to our Hope on Wheels Program laughing, playing, and learning fills me with compassion. Visiting with the children in our H.O.P.E. Educational Program and watching them play a flute for the first time or quote scripture for the first time inspires me. Seeing their lives change is proof that God is at work in their lives. What excites me each time I visit is the transformation I see in many of the refugees we serve; quite literally from despair to hope.
I am excited about what God is doing through Heart for Lebanon; the growth that is occurring and the story God is writing. When Heart for Lebanon was started in 2006, we had no idea what God had in mind. Now, there are still thousands of refugees that need to hear the gospel and we will keep on sharing it as long as God provides for us to reach each child and adult with hope in Jesus Christ.
The Character Traits and leadership principles that are taught in our educational program are now being taught to MBB who will go back to Syria one day and rebuild communities on a Christian foundation. Who would have ever thought that would happen? God is leading us, our mission is being accomplished, our vision is being fulfilled, and our passion has never had more resolve than today.
So, back to the question: how was my latest trip? Inspiring, motivating, thrilling, and encouraging because of the transformation I witnessed, mostly in the children but in the adults as well, and the hope I see in children and adults, and the passion, dreams and drive in this generation of children.
My desire is for you is to be part of something amazing, something God is orchestrating, and something that will impact generations to come. How you can be part of this amazing opportunity? Pray, financially invest (we say “invest” because you will receive a return on your funds), and come and see. Join one of our Vision Teams and see what motivates and encourages us about the future of the Middle East.