Lebanon could lose an entire generation, just like Syria. Heart for Lebanon’s Elio Constantine explains, “Extremist and radical organizations target marginalized and vulnerable communities; these children start getting fed the most extreme ideas.”
Extremists target kids because they’re easy prey. “They (children) still have a fresh mind like a sponge that would absorb almost anything, especially given that they are in a desperate situation,” Constantine says.
Introducing kids to Jesus through games, crafts, songs, and Bible lessons provides an alternative to hate. “Heart for Lebanon disrupts the cycle; it puts a stop to it,” Constantine says.
“We create this ripple effect of hope among these marginalized communities.”
That’s the goal of the ministry’s “Summer of Hope” program. “‘Summer of Hope’ is an initiative that we’re doing [in] June, July, and August,” Heart for Lebanon co-founder Tom Atema says.
“The ultimate goal is to reach 2,500 children. During the month of June, [we reached] 1,269 [kids] in 187 different environments.”
“Right now, three-quarters of the country is living at [or below] the poverty line. Families living in poverty don’t take vacations, they don’t become tourists. They just live in everyday reality that leads to more and more despair,” Atema says.
“We as Christians show up with a fun truck [and] games and crafts, and Bible lessons. We just let the kids have fun as kids for a couple of hours but with a purpose [of] sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Header and story images courtesy of Heart for Lebanon.