A VERY Different VBS

Jennifer shares some poignant observations from Kid’s Camp on Mt. Lebanon

June 7

“Teach your children well . . . .” (Graham Nash)

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

All Souls Vacation Bible School starts next week. In some ways, this first day of Kids Camp on Mt. Lebanon looked a lot like VBS. Just like All Souls, we had around 50 kids. Just like All Souls, we sang songs, heard a Bible Story, played games, and worked on a craft. But so many things were different as well. Here are just a few:

  • Every participant is Syrian, many refugees, some migrant workers whose parents came to Lebanon for work, but now cannot go home.
  • Beyond the 5 helpers on our American team, every leader (both paid staff and volunteers) is Lebanese.
  • Every participant has been raised Muslim. Some of their parents have begun to attend church, but it is unlikely that many have a full understanding of Jesus, the Gospel, and the Christian faith.
  • Every leader is a Christian: many raised in Christian homes, but some came to faith as adults.
  • Some of the girls wore head-coverings like their mothers.
  • Every activity happened with girls and boys side-by-side, but separate.
  • Breakfast was served at the beginning of Kids Camp and lunch was served mid-day; the menu is chosen with intention, to provide nutrition the children may not be receiving at home.
  • Every activity happened outside, some under coverings to shade the spaces from the hot sun.
  • Every participant primarily spoke Arabic, with only a few knowing a bit of English.

I’ll leave you with a fascinating observation from today. The Kids Camp purchases catering from a local restaurant, one of many efforts to support the local economy. As we began to hand out plates of salad, rice, ground beef, and roasted tomatoes, I noticed that at many tables, a few children did not have food yet. As I served them, they kept on passing their food to the others at the table. Rather than receiving the plate placed in front of them, they passed the plate on to the other person at the table who had not been served. This happened repeatedly. I began to notice that the older children were ensuring that their younger siblings were fed first.

I surmise that the older ones were unsure if there would be enough food for all. I was deeply impressed by what must have been something their parents taught them — to look out for the little ones. The church that the Kids Camp partners with is investing in the Syrian people in the tent settlements near their building. They are building relationships with children and their parents, assisting them with food and education. In so doing, they are showing the love of Christ to children and their families, many of whom have never encountered Christians prior to fleeing Syria.

Please pray with us for the next 2 days of Kids Camp — for safety for the children and leaders, for creativity and stamina for the leaders, and for clarity as we teach the theme of this Kids Camp — FORGIVENESS.