Why is the Beirut Baptist School (BBS) a ministry of LSESD? This will strike many as a peculiar question to ask of a school, given the centuries of Christian leadership in the education sector around the world, and in Lebanon in particular. Thanks in no small part to the tireless work of the faithful, the value of education is now almost universally beyond question. Sharing the light of learning will always be at the heart of Christian service because “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV).
For LSESD, the mission today, however, is not primarily about where the light of learning shines, but also about whom we are welcoming and including in its glow. As Christians, it is important that we do not undermine the provision of education by neglecting to deeply and intentionally nurture it as education for all.
Beirut Baptist School: A Model of Christian Love
BBS has been a model for this ethos, firstly, through its ‘open arms’ policy towards families of all faiths, for as Augustine wrote, “love of God is the first to be commanded, but love of neighbor is the first to be put into practice.” Over the past half-century, BBS has gained a positive and warm reputation among its community by communicating the Gospel-rootedness of its spirit of love for neighbor clearly and transparently to all who walk through its doors. This includes opening its doors to hundreds of internally displaced people during the 2006 war on Lebanon. This humble openness about its identity and eagerness to serve the entire community has earned the school the respect and trust of Muslim families, who make up around 90% of its student body.
Secondly, through its holistic approach to students – as mind, body and soul – the school strives to be a space where there is no contradiction to be perceived between Scriptures shared in the chapel and algorithms programmed in the computer lab. Students receive a 360-degree perspective on subject matters selected by the teachers and the administrators each year, in an innovative approach that treats the learning experience as a seamless whole.
Thirdly, the school demonstrates its character by being mindful of the economic pressures that many in Lebanon are facing today. BBS always strives to keep costs on parents low, subsidizing the tuition of families facing financial hardships so that no child is left behind.
These three pillars of ethos, quality and care are the bedrock for the whole ministry, for “whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). Over the past few years, and after a decade of experience with individualized care for students with special needs, BBS has been furthering its mission by investing heavily in its Special Education department. This work is complemented by the dynamism of the Counseling and Guidance department, who strive to keep both students and parents informed and supported on issues of social, physical and emotional wellness through innovative partnerships and events. The school is currently in the process of establishing a dedicated Special Needs Center, to better serve its community, and more effectively intervene in the academic, social and emotional development of a greater diversity of learners. Children with autism or severe physical difficulties will be able to receive the kind of care they deserve, like multi-sensory and psychomotor therapy, in a whole floor equipped with play and learning spaces that stimulate all senses. If you would like to know more about how to get involved, please contact us!
A Call for Contribution
With all these projects and policies, it is easy to forget the mundane glue that keeps a school together: logistics. High quality transportation services form a “hidden curriculum” in all schools, and are vital for ensuring the health and safety of students, the peace of mind of parents, and the timeliness of school activities. BBS is in need of upgrading its fleet of school buses (5 buses and 3 vans), which have not been replaced since 1992. With 1,300 students taking part in the school’s many activities and trips throughout the year, and with around 100 families dependent on the bus to take their children to school and back home throughout the week, BBS’ urban mission is very much tied to its transportation fleet.
For this reason, BBS is seeking the support of our partner churches to help lift the burden of this costly upgrade. Your support is vital for keeping our school running smoothly so that we may continue spreading the Good News of Christ’s love in Lebanon through both word and deed (James 2: 14-25).
For other giving options, please contact us
Jad Baaklini | July 2017