Schools, universities and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education – SKILD has already raised the profile of children with special needs across many institutions in Lebanon. Next up are churches.
Diversity: Scientific Knowledge and a Spiritual Mission is a new book aimed at encouraging church leaders, particularly those working with children and youth, to understand and support children in their congregations who have learning differences. It has been produced by SKILD and LSESD’s publishing house Dar Manhal Al Hayat and written by Bassem Melki, Pastor, Students’ Dean, and a lecturer at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, and Carla Najem, a clinical psychologist at SKILD, and lecturer at the American University of Beirut.
The book covers both spiritual and scientific approaches to its subject, providing readers with useful information on developmental disorders and the characteristics of special needs, Bible readings on the church and family, and advice on improving a church service to better include children with special needs. There are also views from many church leaders in Lebanon on the role of the Church in embracing families who have children with learning differences, something which SKILD Center Director, Hiba Al Jamal, says is important.
“Children with learning differences need to be approached in special ways so they can be fully embraced by their fellow church members,” says Hiba. “Their parents need all the support they can get. The advice and vision outlined in Diversity will make it easier for church leaders to deal with the whole issue and to make this part of their Christian mission.”
Over 85 leaders working with children and young people in evangelical churches across Lebanon attended the launch of Diversity on Saturday, 28 January. They received free copies of the book to share with other members of their church. Over 1000 copies have been printed to be distributed in Lebanese churches and another version is being prepared for the wider Lebanese public and other Middle Eastern countries. The church leaders welcomed the new book with many asking for training events as well to inform them of practical ways they can help children with learning differences in their churches.
Hiba hopes that the positive reception at the launch of Diversity will roll over into churches. “Children with special needs deserve to be treated as children of God the way they are,” she says. “In as much as prayer is needed for them, scientific knowledge is a must to make them develop their spiritual experience as well as their parents.”
Please pray for the success of Diversity, that it will be taken seriously by churches and will have an impact on how they approach and include children with special needs.
Chris Hall | LSESD | January 28, 2017