By Marian Choueifati
As Beirut Baptist School (BBS) steps into a new academic year, dichotomous feelings of excitement and anxiety encompass our staff. On one hand, we are thrilled to see that BBS has been receiving an all-time-high number of registrations for the upcoming year. Nonetheless, we are anxious about the parents and teachers who are struggling to make ends meet, due to the relentless devaluation of the Lebanese Lira.
Many of our BBS families are newly poor, struggling to survive on lira-based-salaries. (Three years ago, $1 used to be equal to 1,500 LBP. Now, $1 is equivalent to 38,000 LBP, resulting in the second highest global inflation rate 178%.) To make matters worse, public schools in Lebanon are not an alternative option, as the government has not yet announced the starting date for the new academic year. They are also not sufficiently equipped with educational resources to accommodate their increasing number of students. As a result, 3 in 10 young people in Lebanon have stopped their education. Sadly, 13% of children under the age of 18 are being prompted to find jobs to help their parents financially. This is why it is so crucial that we continue to help as many students at BBS as we can.
In a time of economic and political collapse, we find great hope in spiritual, holistic education. At the start of the year, we can’t help but express our gratitude for the teachers who have stayed, regardless of the consistent devaluation of their basic salaries that are paid in Lebanese pound. We also thank God for the partners who have given above and beyond to help us increase salaries and subsidize student tuition. The needs increase, but our God has been faithful until now. As we face another storm, we have complete trust in a God who calls out “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39).
We asked teachers… How can we be praying for your classroom this school year?
“Teenager mental health is very critical, as we have a big number of students with high anxiety levels, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Corona had its damage and their intense engagement on social media is not helping in this regard, in addition to the difficult situation in Lebanon and the financial peer pressure they are facing. I pray we as Christian counselors, teachers and administrators can share and show students through our actions and decisions the message of eternal peace that transcends all understanding.”
— Celia Khater
“I pray for strength, wisdom and sound-mind for our teachers to help and support our learners with their academic gaps and emotional needs.”
— Linda Gedeon
“[I pray] for wisdom so the team and I can take the right decisions in the right time. [Also, I hope] to be able to say at the end of the year: With the circumstances given, I, as a daughter of God, did the best I can to ensure that this academic year was fruitful and meaningful to C1 students.”
— Lea Sakr
“May God give us his heart and mind to renew us with his Spirit every single second to be able to love everyone at BBS the way Jesus loved us, no matter how challenging their characters might be. May we also empathize with them and understand them because everyone in one way or another is passing through tough situations, including emotional, psychological, spiritualas well as financial. May the light and the image of Jesus reflect through each one of us. May we give hope with a smile or a word to the ones we meet throughout the day whether in classes, hallways, stairs, offices, playgrounds and anywhere else.”
— Sylva Bardakjian
“This year I look forward to transmitting the peace that Jesus has put in us and to be the light between the students, so they know there is always a solution and hope. I pray for protection for students on what they see and hear because they are exposed daily to toxic contents that are affecting their mental health and their self-image.”
— Carole Hennaoui
“I am looking forward to building new relationships with teachers, parents, and kids. I pray that the Lord may use us to support one another and that others may see him in everything we do or say.”
— Ruth Al Salibi
“Pray for strength, wisdom, and courage to teach the Word of God faithfully to my students. Pray for my students to acknowledge the importance of intimate relationship with Jesus Christ thus leading them to accept Him as Savior and Lord. Pray for the Bible classes to be a place of spiritual healing and growth where kids learn to build healthy relationships with each other and with God.”
— Mona BouChahine
“[I pray] for God to give me eyes to see these students as he does them and look beyond difficult behavior and rough exteriors. Also [I look forward to] going deeper with students who have begun studying the Bible on their own or have expressed interest in Christianity.”
— Drew Caldwell