Lebanon (MNN) — Sky News describes a “mini-caliphate” forming among ISIS wives and children in northern Syria. Authorities reportedly intended to use Syria’s al-Hol refugee camp as a temporary holding place for women and children. However, there are no plans in place for their relocation.
Not all Syrian refugees are terrorists, but the danger of radicalization hangs over many refugee camps. Years of displacement and shattered dreams make many refugees vulnerable to terrorist recruitment.
Wissam Nasrallah is the Chief Operations Officer of the Lebanese Society for Educational & Social Development (LSESD). He says one branch of their ministry, Baptist Children and Youth Ministry (BCYM), works alongside Lebanese churches to introduce Syrian refugee kids to a different message. Read a short history of BCYM here.
“When they come to our camps, they listen to a new narrative – a narrative where God loves them so much that He came on earth so that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
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Hope: a forgotten concept
Lebanon holds between 1- and 1.5-million Syrian refugees. According to UNHCR statistics, nearly half of them are between 3- and 18-years old. “Most of these children have never seen anything other than a [refugee] camp and they have no hope for the future,” Nasrallah says.
“They’ve left their home country, they think God is mad at them… and that they’re being punished for that.”
For three days, refugee children get a glimpse of hope at BCYM’s year-round camps. They trade squalid living conditions and canvas tent walls for games, crafts, music, and more; in short, they get to be a kid again. It’s dramatically different than the desperation surrounding refugee settlements.
“[It] is an opportunity for them to leave the tent settlement for a few days [and] to be cared for, loved, have fun, and listen to a Bible story,” Nasrallah describes.
“We started out with youth [from] Lebanese churches, but with the influx of Syrian refugees, the focus has shifted in the past two years.”
How to help Syrian refugee kids
“A lot of these kids are traumatized. A lot of them have a hard time talking about what happened. We really want to provide a safe environment for them, listen to their stories, [and] love them in this very short time that we have with them,” Nasrallah says.
“It’s about giving back hope to children.”
You can even serve at one of the camps by contacting BCYM staff here. Most importantly, pray. “Please pray that we don’t lose this aspect from our ministry and that we continue on providing [refugee kids with] the hope of Christ,” Nasrallah requests.
Header image courtesy of LSESD.