Ghinwa Akiki

How is Thimar – LSESD Supporting the Local Church in Lebanon and Syria? 

At a local church in Lebanon, a young boy from a vulnerable community sat attentively, listening to the story of a savior. During the holiday season, staff from Salt and Light, a ministry of Thimar – LSESD, a Christian organization in Lebanon, shared the Christmas story with 6,105 children across Lebanon and Syria. Thimar – LSESD supported local churches in Lebanon and Syria by helping organize Christmas events for children facing challenging circumstances. Amid the cold winter weather, war, natural disasters, and prevailing uncertainty in the Middle East, a wish came true for thousands of children—to be happy. 

Among them was the young boy, watching the speakers, his ears perked up as staff recounted the birth of Jesus and explained how Joseph and Mary needed a place to stay. 

“They could stay with me,” the child said. 

The boy’s comments moved Rosette, a member of Salt and Light who has been leading children’s events for a decade with local churches in Lebanon and Syria. “As the season approached, I was overwhelmed by everything unfolding on the Southern border of Lebanon and beyond,” she said. “In what is typically a joyful and peaceful time, an unexpected heaviness crept into my heart, burdening my mind. I questioned how we could celebrate when there were losses of precious lives and belongings occurring around us. Shouldn’t we be reflecting on these hardships rather than embracing the festivities? 

It was then that Jesus reminded me of the first Christmas. In times of occupation, and fear, Jesus was born, bringing hope to the world. Hiding in a stable, Joseph and Mary celebrated the birth of our savior. As I looked around me, I felt a desperate need to share the hope that Jesus came to offer.” 

The stories and events flowed like a river through a dry land, bringing joy and happiness to children across Lebanon and Syria who are missing a safe and peaceful childhood. 

Blissful Little Ears Listening to the Christmas Story

Warming Little Hearts with the Good News 

During one of the events in a Lebanese village with religious diversity, a leader gathered children to share the Christmas story, connecting its relevance with their daily struggles – no power, no fuel, no shelter. The kids resonated with the challenges they face, from the absence of basic needs to the lack of proper shelter. When the leader playfully suggested that Christmas might be about gifts, the children shouted back, “NO, it’s about Jesus.” In that simple declaration, they portrayed the true spirit of Christmas, transporting us back to the simplicity and depth of the first Christmas. 

“I observed the sparkle in the children’s eyes,” Rosette recalled, “thirsty to hear about unconditional love, never-ending mercy, and the hope of a better life – one that surpasses any of the challenges they face daily.” 

At another Syrian refugee center in Lebanon, Thimar – LSESD’s partner church hosted another children’s event for Christmas. This center serves Syrian refugee children living in a camp facing some of the most challenging and heartbreaking conditions in Lebanon. During the event, a boy expressed gratitude to two leaders from our ministry as Thimar-LSESD handed out gifts. ‘Thank you, sir, you made my heart very happy,’ he said. ‘Come back again.’ This common response from the children touched the team, moving their hearts as they watched the children joyfully carry their gifts to their tents. 

From shared meals to crafts, stories, and gifts, it all meant the world to the children, exceeding their expectations. In those moments, their focus shifted from earthly, devastating events and fear to a newfound hope. This hope not only brightened their day but also provided a sense of security in the love of Jesus. 

December was a month brimming with testimonies. Local Churches in Lebanon and Syria extended invitations to everyone in their surrounding areas, creating an opportunity to share God’s love and the gospel message. 

Blissful Little Ears Listening to the Christmas Story

Seeing Churches Grow with Capacity to Share the Good News 

“Every year, I can see how our partners’ local churches are improving and taking the lead on their events. It is by God’s grace that He is training and using His people to better serve children and their families,” Rosette continued as she shared about two partner churches in Lebanon that are holding new Bible study meetings in vulnerable communities: one for parents and the other for kids, with follow-up calls for parents. Not only are they planting joy through children’s events, but they are also nurturing it through teaching the Word of God. 

As a faith-based Christian organization in Lebanon, we often discover more about God’s faithfulness through the people we serve. In these Christmas events, children reminded us of the essence of childlike faith, believing in Jesus without questions or doubt. They celebrate small gestures of kindness and cherish present moments, even in the harsh reality of lacking a protective shelter for their heads. 

Our prayer as a ministry is to remain humble and live by the words of Jesus mentioned in Matthew 18: ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ 

Help us strengthen the witness of the Local Church

Salt and Light aims to see churches firmly rooted in Jesus Christ and flourishing in service.

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