Lebanon (MNN) – God is opening doors in the Middle East through the work of local Christians. One ministry that supports that work is the Lebanese Society for Educational & Social Development, or LSESD.
LSESD works through many different programs to support the local church. Wissam Nasrallah, Chief Operations Officer for the ministry describes its mission.
“LSESD’s role or mission is first of all to empower the church. We do most of our programs through the local church. This is really our focus. We don’t want to replace the church, but we want to come alongside it, empower it in different ways so that it might be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ within the local community.”
LSESD’s integrated approach to ministry is carried out through its six arms and allows it to reach a variety of people in different situations. Nasrallah provides a quick overview of their ministries.
“The goal of ABTS is to train leaders in the Arab world for ministry in different fields,” Nasrallah says.
The evangelical seminary trains students from at least ten countries around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. These students train to go back into challenging local contexts equipped with the good news of the Gospel to serve and mobilize their churches.
Dar Manhal Al Hayat (DMAG)
Dar Manhal Al Hayat is a publishing house that provides Christ-centered Arabic resources to Christian communities around the Middle East. Its goal is to equip the Church, proclaim Christ and encourage Gospel-shaped living through Christian and educational resources.
“We basically publish resources publish theological and spiritual resources in the Arabic language, either by translating English resources to Arabic and adapting them – of course – to our local context, or by encouraging local authors to write.”
DMAH currently publishes about 20-25 new titles each year.
Baptist Children & Youth Ministry (BCYM)
“The goal of BCYM is to serve vulnerable and refugee children through spiritual camps, 3-day camps, follow-up events and pastoral home visits, tent visits – if you want to call them, where we engage with these youth on a more spiritual level.”
Building relationships with kids and helping them discover their value in the eyes of God is a primary focus of the ministry.
Middle East Revive and Thrive (MERATH)
“MERATH, our relief and development arm, works through local churches to serve the most vulnerable people in the community, and the goal is to facilitate transformational change.”
Nasrallah explains that the ministry targets both immediate needs and long-term needs. They offer relief support that includes food aid, hygiene kits, milk and diapers. In addition, they offer livelihood programs, winterization, trauma support, and education for out of school children.
Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences (SKILD)
Communities and schools in Lebanon do not commonly address special needs. SKILD’s main goal is to provide individualized support to children with learning difficulties, to raise community awareness and advocate for children with special needs. SKILD is committed to establishing inclusive educational communities in Lebanon.
In addition, “we work with public and private schools in Lebanon where we train teachers to spot children with special needs,” Nasrallah says. “[SKILD] also provide[s] therapy sessions at [its] center…and training for teachers and support groups for parents who are facing this challenge by themselves.”
Beirut Baptist School (BBS)
Established in the 1950’s, BBS is a K-to-12 school in the heart of Beirut that provides excellent academic standards with Christian values. In an email, Nasrallah says over “90 percent of the student body come from families with diverse faith backgrounds” however these families also value the school’s holistic approach to education.
“We serve predominantly a non-Christian population in a very competitive educational environment while having very clear Biblical and spiritual values,” Nasrallah affirms.
Reaching Out, Offering Hope
LSESD is at a unique point in time to continue offering hope to local churches and their communities. Today marks a new journey for the Church in the Middle East.
“We’re on a transformational journey as an organization and as a church. We grew up in an environment of fear and most of our community was inward looking,” Nasrallah says.
“But God has been working despite our weaknesses and our fears to show us the potential and that God is greater than everything. And He wants us to be available, and He wants to work through us for His glory, for His namesake.”
LSESD offers people many ways to get involved. From volunteering with children or medical camps to helping fund programs and praying for the ministries, there are endless ways to support LSESD.
Nasrallah especially asks that people pray for the Church to have wisdom as they respond to every changing social and political situation. Pray they would be good reflections for Christ no matter the current situation. (Find an update on what is happening in Lebanon here.) He also asks for prayer for ongoing daily challenges that may hinder their work in different areas around Lebanon and the region.
(Image courtesy of DFID on Flickr shorturl.at/wDMNZ)