Since the beginning of 2018, Baptist Children and Youth Ministry (BCYM) has been visiting on a weekly basis the families of the children that they serve at the camps, and it has quickly become one of the favorite things they do. “It’s such an honor to be invited into their simple homes with such warmth and generosity, displaying great hospitality despite their harsh circumstances,” says Robin Minshull.
One of the main goals of this aspect of BCYM’s ministry is to listen to their stories, to understand the family’s situation and to try to get a clearer picture of how BCYM can help. Many families have experienced deep trauma due to the war and appreciate a pair of willing ears that listen to their harrowing stories. “Many share their feelings of anger, confusion and abandonment,” says Robin. “We often get questions about why… ‘Why did God allow this to happen?’ ‘Why did this happen to us?’ But also ‘Why do you help us?’”
This opportunity allows the BCYM team to share a simple message of hope and love. To tell families who have experienced the worst consequences of man’s brokenness that God has not abandoned them and to encourage them to find the healing that God’s love provides.
The team is seeing a huge benefit in meeting with the families. “The children really appreciate our visits and they usually crowd around us when we enter the areas where they live, asking us to come visit their families too,” Robin reflects. “Sometimes they proudly line up and perform the songs that we sing at the camps, or show us some of the crafts that they’ve made and taken home with them. We’ve noticed that these visits also create a stronger bond between us and the children that we’ve visited, so that when we see them again at a camp or follow-up event we have a much deeper relationship with them, enabling them to trust us and letting us speak into their lives on a deeper level.”
Another goal of the visits is to see how the BCYM camps have affected the children and their families when they return home. The team has heard many stories of how children have shared the messages that they themselves have heard at the camps with their parents and siblings at home. In one family that BCYM’s Nicolas Melhem recently visited, the son had told his father about the story of Joseph from the Old Testament and how he had forgiven his brothers who had sold him into slavery. The father was deeply moved by this as forgiveness is such a stark contrast compared to his experiences in Syria. This opened up a deep conversation about how we can forgive and turn the other cheek, loving our enemies instead of retaliating with hatred.
In their conversations with the families, the BCYM team tries to understand their physical needs. They provide some food items each time they visit a family and inform MERATH, who distribute food and winter items through local partner churches, about the needs of the family.
One family the team visited arrived in Lebanon two years ago after crossing the mountains from Syria to Lebanon on foot. They now share an apartment together with another family in the Beqaa valley. The women told the BCYM team about their wish to provide their children with education, since they had never received any growing up, as well as asking BCYM to communicate their need for a heating system for the winter months to our local partners. “It’s a privilege for us that, through these visits, we can meet the social, physical and spiritual needs of these families,” says Robin.
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