Lebanon (MNN) — Beirut Baptist School (BBS), a ministry of LSESD, is prayerfully planning for next year amid hardships caused by COVID-19 and the Lebanese economic downturn.
The school was founded in the 1950s, so it has a long history and important legacy that endures today. Wissam Nasrallah of LSESD explains that BBS distinguishes itself by providing high-quality education coupled with a strong spiritual curriculum in a predominantly Muslim country.
“Spiritual education is at the heart of BBS,” he says. “Most students attend chapel and Bible classes every week, which is absolutely unique since BBS serves a religiously diverse community of students mainly coming from a non-Christian background”.
The school’s other distinctive and inclusive education isn’t often found in Lebanon.
“We serve students who have special needs. BBS is equipped with very qualified therapists, but also a team of qualified teachers that are able to handle special needs students in class with other pupils,” Nasrallah says.
“We have a dedicated center for the hardest cases, but we try to integrate special needs students with the rest of the students. This is popular in the U.S., but it hasn’t been very widespread in Lebanon.”
Schools worldwide have faced incredible challenges this year. However, Nasrallah says BBS and other schools in Lebanon encountered adversity even before the pandemic began.
“Most schools in Lebanon have been hit prior to the pandemic by the Lebanese uprising that started in October, so a lot of schools are closing their doors,” he explains. “BBS, since it’s at the heart of Beirut, was directly impacted by all the events. We opened on Saturdays to make up for lost days, and this is when the school started working a lot on its online platform.”
Because BBS invested in its online platform, the school easily connected with students online when shutdowns began.
“When the pandemic hit and the government announced the general lockdown, BBS was ready to move online. Obviously, this had many challenges for students from grades one to six who need a lot of supervision, but it worked really well for students from grades seven to 12,” Nasrallah says.
Facing the Future
The unknowns of next year, caused both by the pandemic and the economic crisis, weigh heavily on those involved with the school as they plan for the upcoming year.
“We don’t know what school will look like next year. We don’t know how many classes we will be able to open,” he says. “Beyond that, the economic crisis has hit us very, very hard. Most parents are not able to pay tuition. We’re a nonprofit school, but we were able to operate based on tuition paid by parents. Most middle-class families are not able to pay for that anymore.”
“With the instant inflation of basically everything, because we import everything in Lebanon, our operational costs have skyrocketed. [However], we cannot increase tuition. We’re barely able to collect what we need from parents. We need a lot of wisdom and a lot of patience.”
A Need for Prayer
As the school approaches next year and considers how to overcome these hardships, Nasrallah highlights the need for prayer.
“Please pray for the school team as they budget, as they plan, as they project for next year, not knowing what might come our way,” he says. “BBS is not only a school, it’s a lighthouse, a part of Beirut, and the ministry component is essential. [Pray that] no matter what may come next year, we keep the link with our students, keep ministering to them, serving them, and sharing the hope of the Gospel.”
You can visit LSESD’s website here to support them and learn more about how to pray for their ministry during these trying times.
Header image courtesy of Kimberly Farmer via Unsplash