John Maxwell once said that leadership is influence. Whether good or bad, leaders are defined by the power to influence change in the lives of their followers and the communities they lead. Unfortunately, leadership in the Middle East is often skewed towards one of dictatorship and oppressive measures. Seldom is one able to point to a political leader and define them as inviting, empowering, and supportive. Instead, leaders in the Middle East tend to exert every effort to abuse their powers in order to control their people, tending to keep them poor and ignorant in order to insure no one questions their leadership nor threatens their power.
But at Heart for Lebanon, a ministry that serves in Lebanon, we make every effort to raise a different type of leader amongst the refugee children we serve. Our desire is to see a whole new generation of servant leaders after God’s own heart. In order to achieve this goal we have included seven leadership characteristics in our curriculum taught at our non-formal educational centers.
Refugee children studying at our H.O.P.E. (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) Schools in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and in Southern Lebanon go through a three-year-long Leader in Me training to help them sharpen their skills and develop a Biblical model of leadership. Our students are learning to be proactive and to always begin with the end in mind. They are encouraged to understand others first and only then to be understood.
In addition, Bible-based character traits are regularly taught and practiced at these schools. Forgiveness, integrity and generosity are some of the characteristics emphasized on a daily basis. Bible stories and parables are also used to highlight servant leadership models in Scripture. The unconditional love of Christ and His compassionate heart towards the marginalized and oppressed is the ultimate leadership model Heart for Lebanon uses to help our students understand servant leadership.
At our H.O.P.E program, we are investing in the lives of 300 Syrian refugee kids and providing a safe place where they can learn and grow in knowledge and maturity. Unfortunately, these refugee children have once been forced to flee their homes and villages due to life-threatening violence. They come to Lebanon with deep-rooted hurt and a false understanding of leadership.
The war between the various factions in Syria destroyed dreams and scarred the lives of countless children caught in the middle. Children may know no better than to walk down the same path of destruction, unless they are taught otherwise.
For this reason, Heart for Lebanon passionately invests in the lives of these young boys and girls so that they may develop a new perspective on leadership and eventually grow to be a light brightly shining in the midst of darkness.