It is hard to believe that I only have a short time left in Beirut! I have my ticket booked back to the States on August 1st. Not going to lie, I think the first things I am going to do after hugging my parents and my dog is to prepare a great big bowl of brussels sprouts and bacon. (Trust me, best food combo ever.)
My return to the States is only for 3 months or less and is twofold: First, I have two brothers getting married in September and I wouldn’t miss this for the world! Second, I must work on raising financial support so that I can return and continue the important work started here.
It is amazing to think of what has been accomplished in the short time that I have been at the Life Center, arriving full time at the beginning of the year. This month we had 240 children joining our school “Spring of Life” for our “summer learning program.” This is the first year that we are holding a two-month summer program in addition to the homework program that runs during the school year. It is also the first year that we will reach 240 students daily for an entire year with these programs! This is my largest project to date here as I worked to construct a proposal with World Vision for funding that will help cover 80% of the expenses of both the summer and school year programs for more kids than we have ever reached before. Our hard work on structuring a more organized, purposeful and cohesive program affords us an amazing opportunity to impact the lives of many children that have suffered so much due to the war and instability.
Our programs at “Spring of Life” are school support only, designed to help set the children up for success in the official schools. Most of the children enrolled with us are attending classes with a “Syrian curriculum.” It is a few hours in the afternoon and falls very short of what the Lebanese children are taught in school. You can see a tremendous difference in what the children privileged to be taught the Lebanese curriculum are learning vs. the Syrian curriculum schools. The teachers in the official schools (who must stay late to teach the Syrian children and are often not even getting any paycheck for months at a time thanks to the inept government system) seem to be encouraged to just pass the kids at any cost; so, we see children with good grades who cannot read and do not even know how to hold a pencil!! That means we have every opportunity to enrich these children’s learning experience in a powerful way. Not just with education, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well!
I oversee many projects and operational aspects of the Life Center but have become deeply involved with the Spring of Life projects as I help the team adjust to what they consider a more “western way” of doing things in every aspect of the programs. This is required to set the children up for the best possible results, comply with the funding from World Vision, and open doors for possible funding opportunities in the future. We are growing and evolving!!
“Spring of Life” programs are always the catalyst for us to reach new families starting with the children, allowing us to develop relationships in the community with those whom we can serve through our refugee relief outreach and other programs that we run here at the Life Center. As always, the more people that we are reaching means more funds needed in other areas. It is a bit scary to think of the extra work and responsibility that will come with all these new families coming into our center. But isn’t that the adventure of living by faith?
I am proud of what I have been able to do while I have been here, but the work is far from finished. Instead, it is only just beginning! I may not be here forever but I want to be here long enough to ensure the programs are well funded and new systems and processes are fully established; and that we have a fully staffed and well-trained team here. I want to pave a way for anyone that would be willing to take up the torch after me. Being a pioneer is painful, trust me! But I am grateful for the opportunity to do it. I have committed to 2 years with them and I am only 6 months down!
I have been self-supported to date, primarily using my savings to enable to me to do with work. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe in what I am doing for the Kingdom. I am looking for partners that are willing to help sow into the work being done here and enable me to continue this work.
While I am in the States, I am actively seeking opportunities to share about the important work of the Life Center with churches, small groups and prayer groups, mission’s committees – whatever opportunity that the Lord opens with anyone who has a heart to understand how the West can make an impact in the Middle East. My heart is not just with the people here, it is also to awaken the West to the important role we can play in the future and share the opportunities to sow a seed in the work being done that can change a nation for the Kingdom of God. Please pray and consider how you can be a part of this story!