“We want to convey to you the joy and giggles of the children,” says a Bible Society Lebanon staff member, referring to children who have little cause to laugh, as they live in refugee camps around Lebanon.
These children are visited regularly by Bible Society as they perform the creative shows for their entertainment, using hopeful and positive strategies as well as appropriate trauma healing technique. “The Bible, the book of hope, is the source of these presentations, in the camp.”
“We deliver the word of God in a light and beautiful way to tell every child about God’s great love for us,” says the Bible Society staff member.
Nic Capp from Bible Society Australia visited Lebanon in 2018 and was able to see one of the shows in person. “The kids just loved it,” he says.
Nic recalls that during the course of Bible Society’s show that day, attended by around 30 children from the camp, a little girl of around 6 years old wandered back to where Nic was standing with the other adults. “I was standing with my Bible Society chaperone, Joe,” Nic remembers. “He is a great big, tall guy, with a beard. You could argue some might find him intimidating. Yet this little girl wanders up to us and just takes his hand – she grabs hold of his hand. I thought, that’s a bit unusual.”
After the show, Nic asked Joe, “What happened there?” and Joe replied, “Well, I don’t know exactly. But what I do know is that the kids know that we love them. And they feel safe with us.”
Nic reflects, “This is a lovely illustration of the relationship that Bible Society has built with the camp, and importantly, with the kids. Joe went there regularly. Here’s this guy who could be scary to a little girl, but she felt comfortable to come up to him and hold his hand.”
It’s a reflection also of how the Bible Society in Lebanon works, says Nic. “The whole Bible Society Lebanon team are very Christlike, and I think that’s what was reflected in that instant when the little girl came up to Joe.”
There is a strong sense of comfort and trust between the leaders of the camp and Bible Society Lebanon. One of the benefits of the shows, from the camp leader’s perspective, is that they capture the attention of the children, especially the teenagers. “It keeps the boys from boredom, and from getting into trouble,” Nic remembers from his conversation with the camp leader.
Wassim, a 12-year-old boy who attended a performance, testifies to this, saying, “I did not want to go with my brothers to see the performance, as the play is for children, but when I watched the play, I was personally affected by the spiritual message that touched my heart.” Similarly, Hady, who is 11 years old, learnt from a game of ‘lightness’ the team played with the children, using handcuffs. He said, “I learned not to allow bad behaviour to constrain me, and I ask God to help me overcome it and be free from it to serve God freely.”
The performances and games brought into the camp by Bible Society are having a profound impact in the lives of these children. Imad, 8 years old, said after viewing a play inspired by a Bible story, “I learned that if I encounter a problem, God does not leave me to face it alone.” In a similar vein, 10-year-old Salwa said, “The Shepherd’s play is very beautiful. I learned that God does not leave us, and no matter how far away we are, he will search for us.”
For these children, who live displaced from their homes because of violence and war, the messages in these Bible-based performances bring the hope and truth of God’s word into their lives. Rami, who is 11 years old, said, “I learned from Elia’s play that sometimes, when we get into trouble, we think that God has abandoned us and we have become lonely, but God does not abandon us, and he will help us as he did with the Prophet Elia.”
Nic also spoke with a young boy with shrapnel scars who had arrived at the camp with his older brother. His father had died in Syria, and his mother was imprisoned in the course of their escape. Nic recalls that as they spoke with the boy, they asked him about his future. “We asked him, what’s your hope for the future?” Nic recalls the boy’s answer clearly. “He said, ‘I’d like to be a doctor so I can go back and help my countrymen back in Syria.’ He had a hope,” Nic states.
Bible Society’s work among these children is bringing the message of God’s love in the hardest of places. The Reconcile project, together with the literacy program Bible Society are also running in the camps, are introducing these children to a faith in God which can help them face their future with hope.
NOTE: All images copyrighted to Andrew Boyd.