‘The future is very bleak’

By August 30, 2013

Lebanon (MNN) — Nearly every Middle Eastern nation is feeling repercussions from Syria's crisis. The three-year civil war is effectively deepening the Shi'ite/Sunni Muslim divide in Iraq, causing many to fear another fall into sectarian war.

Similar fears are growing in Lebanon.

A tit-for-tat conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims has most Lebanese on-edge. Last week's mosque bombing–the first time mosques were targeted in a series of civilian attacks–underscores the deepening divide.

Though no group has claimed responsibility for the mosque bombings, the preacher at one mosque is a widely-known opponent of Hezbollah and the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

At the same time, Syrians worried about an attack from the West are pouring across the border. Already playing host to a significant number of Syrian refugees, the country has seen an influx since threats of Western military intervention began earlier this week.

Kids Alive International has been working in Lebanon for 65 years.

"Yes, once again, Lebanon faces many challenges. But we're trusting God, once again, for His protection," says the VP of Operations for Kids Alive, Matt Parker.

"We're teaching the children that we have a God who will never leave them, who is trustworthy."

The message comes at a crucial time for what Lebanon calls "illegitimate children."

"Sometimes, that [term refers to] children that are born out of wedlock," he explains. "Sometimes, it's a case of refugees coming over and they're not registered. Therefore, their children are not registered."

Already marginalized, Parker says the conflict is putting an extra burden on these kids.

"It makes it very, very difficult for these children and for their families," he says. "The future is very bleak."

According to Parker, difficulties are the greatest for "illegitimate children" living in areas of abject poverty.

"These kids face enormous challenges, real stigma," Parker says. "There's a lack of educational and job opportunities for them; they're very much marginalized."

In a recent blog, a Kids Alive worker in Lebanon adds another layer of detail. He says citizenship and nationality are all based on who your father is.

"For the children of foreign nationals here in Lebanon–those that have been registered or legally resident, at least there is peace and stability in the knowledge of who they are," the worker wrote.

"For the children that are born 'illegitimately' or undocumented, they will have a difficult future and likely always be on the fringe of society."

Kids Alive is stepping in with practical help and an important message.

"We work with a number of situations like this in our Children's Home, in our school program," says Parker. "One of our goals is to show these kids that they really are valued: by us and by God."

Kids Alive workers are helping "illegitimate" children and their families get the documentation they need to enter school and access other resources. However, it's not an easy endeavor.

"If a child isn't registered when they're born, it's very difficult later on to get the paperwork that's needed," Parker explains. "It's a very long legal process, [and] it's very expensive."

Nonetheless, they have been able to get some children through the process and on their way to a brighter future. See more of what Kids Alive does in Lebanon.

"These kids do need a lot of prayer," says Parker. "Pray for our program, for our children, staff, that they would know God's peace at such a difficult time."

"Pray also for Kids Alive as we explore opportunities to expand our work, that…we can reach out in practical ways, and with the love of Christ in this needy land."

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