Lebanon Mission Trip
Last May, Fourth sent a team of adults to serve at a Christian preschool in Beirut, Lebanon. Participants supported the teaching staff to gain an understanding of the vital work at this preschool for children from at-risk families and their adult mentoring program. Our volunteers were able to experience and gain a deeper understanding of the culture and current situation in Lebanon, and context for this ministry.
Four members of Fourth Church joined me in visiting the Grow Center, part of the Philemon Project directed by Fourth Missionaries Robert and Joyce Hamd. The trip was a combination of a service and a vision trip.
For the service part, we spent our mornings at the Grow Center, where highlights included getting to know the leaders and staff at the Grow Center and seeing their deep love and commitment to the children. We enjoyed working and playing with the children in the mornings, and seeing how God is at work both in the families and children at the Grow Center. We also appreciated meeting the moms in the Adult Mentoring class who heard the Gospel and found friends and a supportive group to help them be better parents and navigate a challenging life.
For the vision part, we got to visit churches and a seminary and see how God is working to train pastors, grow the church, and meet the needs of this population which has suffered so much through an economic collapse, political corruption, and the devastating chemical explosion in 2020.
This Christian preschool was started because of the great need for quality child care for children from at-risk families. Lebanon has a high population of Syrian and other refugees, migrant workers who come to work as domestic staff, and poor people. Many of them are dysfunctional or single-parent families who struggle to feed their children or find child care they can afford. The Grow Center is like an oasis in the midst of chaos in these families’ lives.
Situated in a poor area where people live in tiny run-down apartments, the Grow Center is a clean, well-ordered place where children receive healthy meals and snacks, learn through songs, stories, and play and are lavished with the love of a staff of Lebanese Christian women who really care for each child and their families. Their staff includes a psychologist, a nurse, a chef, and many teachers and helpers. They care for the whole person, so the gospel message is clearly taught at all levels, both with children and in the parent mentoring class.
We enjoyed singing songs and playing with the children, along with helping feed the little ones and meeting parents when they dropped off their children and some who were in a parenting mentoring class. Hearing the stories of God’s faithfulness to these parents was heartwarming. Some came to the school and were told there was not room for their child, but when the director heard their story she found a space because the need was so great. It is a really special place where the Love of God is apparent in all that they do.
We visited the building that will be the site of a second Grow Center and prayed over it together for God’s provision for the renovations and financing of the new center. In the afternoons we met with church leaders and others who helped us to understand the complexities of Lebanon and see what the church is doing there. We visited a historic church and a seminary and met with a former warlord who has become a peacemaker.
Resurrection Church Beirut is not only a Grow Center partner, but also has a vibrant ministry planting churches and training refugee pastors to be equipped to lead churches wherever they go. This partnership is a great visual of the way God grows his church on the mission field using local churches and believers.
Being able to see the cultural context for the ministry was tremendously helpful for understanding how and why this ministry operates. We came home with a deep appreciation of the challenges of life in Lebanon, the resiliency of people in tough places, and the amazing things God is doing there through the Grow Center and the church.