Lebanon (MNN/KAI) — Jed Hamoud of Kids Alive International still remembers the day hope came in 1957. As a 5-year old in a Bedouin tribe, who was told to care for the flocks of his family when his father could no longer tend to them, he was found being abused by older shepherds. The chief of the tribe, in an effort to protect him, took him in. Strangers from the West came to visit one day – they were Kids Alive missionaries who ran an orphanage in Lebanon. They offered to care for Jeb, and soon he was traveling with the chief to his new home far away from familiarity.
Jed lived at the home for the next fourteen years, and for the first 12 years was part of the Kids Alive ministry program – he had a safe home, nutritious meals, and an education. “I didn’t even know what the word ‘school’ meant before Kids Alive – but I learned how to read and write and study.”
As a Bedouin, Jed was Muslim. But through the ministry of Kids Alive – through their faithful service to the children, their prayers, and Scriptural leadership — he fell in love with Jesus Christ.
At 11, his mother came to visit. Her hope was that Jed would return to the tribe. But, when she saw the care he was being provided, she knew he was where he needed to stay. He reflects, “She could have taken me if she wanted to, but she felt it better to sacrifice her own wishes for my good. She knew I had found a true home.”
After Jed graduated from high school, Kids Alive sponsors provided support to help him with college. He was offered a room at the home in Lebanon, and became a part-time member of the staff. In 1971, Jed immigrated to the United States to complete his collegiate studies in physics and mathematics. He was hired by General Electric, and worked for the next 40 years in computer programming and IT.
“God cares for them.”
But Jed’s story with Kids Alive was far from over. When he retired from GE, he was invited to once again be part of the ministry – this time as Vice President of Operations for Africa and the Middle East.
While his time in the field is filled with discussions that may look more like traditional business, Jed says, “What gives me most joy when I’m in the field is talking to the kids, to assure them that there is hope.
“I want them to see that I was hopeless at one time, but through the ministry of Kids Alive, I was given hope.”
Jed says his goal is to ensure that future generations are given the same hope he was provided through Kids Alive. “I want them to know that God cares about them, He loves them, and He has a special place for them.”
A large focus in Jed’s area of ministry is caring for the ever-growing population of Syrian refugee children. “Some of them are in our residential program, which means they really have no family to take care of them.” Others attend a school where they are provided Christ-centered education. Jed says that the families know that there is a safe place for their children and are anxious to receive the care provided, and that the need far outweighs the current ability to provide that support. He shares, “Our waiting list is huge compared to the number of kids we have in our care.”
“If it weren’t for Kids Alive…”
Jed ponders his past as he thinks about the future of Kids Alive in their 100th year of operation. ‘You know, if it wasn’t for Kids Alive, I would likely be dead – I would have been dead years ago. And, in the slim chance I would have escaped death, being from a tribe where the Syrian crisis exists, I would likely be fighting with ISIS or another extremist group.” Jed married the daughter of the missionary that founded the home in Lebanon, and his son is now a missionary at the same home Jed found hope – a living example of the benefits of the ministry for generations to come.
Jed’s prayer for the ministry of Kids Alive is the same now as it was when he first said “yes” to joining the team years ago. It is based on John 10:10 – a Scripture the Lord revealed to him as a personal mission statement. “The Lord clearly said is that you continue that mission and that purpose for which I have come – that those children will have life and have it abundantly.”