|Date||April 1, 2005|
Before leaving England, the team met up; we discussed our motives and our hopes, and stood on the common ground of our faith. We didn't know each other or what was in store for us, but we had to work as a team, and trust God to help us. We prayed about what we could bring to these boys who had one thing in common: an extremely difficult home situation.
And then we were in Lebanon. The guys from the home who met us off the plane were full of energy and expectation: we had come for them. We were glad of a day or two to take things in: terrific driving, extraordinary views, mosquitoes, heat and odd food. Here we were, half-way up a mountainside, accommodated somewhere in the strange mixture of buildings which make up the boys' home, being fed and watered.
We also spent our first days planning the programme: chapel and morning school, Bible club and afternoon activities, with occasional extra chapel meetings in the evening. We had brought with us a 'ready-made' Bible club, which had daily programmes, worksheets, dramas and a CD of resources, but after our first day we quickly realised that we had to drastically simplify the material to meet the needs of incredibly lively boys who mostly had very limited English. We took each day as it came, and as we got into a routine, planning was easier and inspiration was easy when thinking of afternoon activities.
The daily programme We had wondered how the morning chapel would work, as we were not great singers and none of us played an instrument, but the boys didn't seem to notice: they were enthusiastic, and if the singing was not melodious, we did have a good repertoire, in both English and in Arabic (although the team's attempts at the Arabic ones proved comical). Chapel was often refreshingly original, with the boys bringing Bible texts and songs and plays. It was a pleasure to share the time with Arabic speakers and singers; the boys looked forward to these times of worship and fun, and there was never difficulty in getting them to pray.
One of the teachers at morning school had recruited help from her church for us. The experience of working with Lebanese volunteers was very welcome, and of course made a big difference. English and maths were on the agenda – much to the dislike of the boys! It was quite challenging for us all to motivate them: even Lebanese children dislike anything educational in their summer break!
At 11am we had the Bible club. We were following Peter on his way as he got to know Jesus, and all the activities tied in to a theme for the day. We began with a quiet game, where everyone would try to complete a challenge; then a drama about Peter would be performed (in English and Arabic), followed by some questions; then our memory song (each verse based on Peter's adventures that day in the drama); then an energetic game, to tire the boys a little to help them work hard on the worksheets at the end!
On some of the afternoons we could let the boys loose in an expensive water amusement park next door to the home – free to them because the park and the boys' home share a water well. Other afternoons were spent playing games, treasure hunts and races: competition was hot and temperatures ran high – participation can be acceptable, but whoever heard of losing? Water fights were ideal, plenty of action and no rules.
Spiritually refreshed, physically worn out Coming from England, we found it surprising how the boys responded to the Bible activities and chapels. The majority listened and took part in activities; the difficulty was finding the time for everyone to take part. Songs were gladly learnt and text recited. There was genuine interest.
Our time in Lebanon was very rewarding. All of us felt spiritually refreshed – even if we were physically worn out! When we arrived we all felt quite apprehensive as we faced what seemed like a huge task, but God helped us tremendously, providing local help, inspiration, energy and ground prepared for sowing.
Spending time with the boys, you are drawn very quickly into relationship. They had been expecting you to come and be there for them; others like you came last year, and the year before. You don't always feel up to the task, but because you are part of a team, you don't have to do it all on your own. You are part of making this a summer to remember for one or more of the children for perhaps years to come. It may be something you bring in the Bible club, or a game you plan and play in the afternoon, or perhaps even an unexpected quiet word together: something you have brought will stay with them. That is what makes it worth coming.
Article compiled from reports by Jonathan Badcock and Peter Kuriger.