In a class of their own
Spending her gap year in Lebanon, Hannah has been teaching around 50 Syrian refugee children music and English at an education centre set up by five local churches. There she works alongside a SIM couple, Tom and Bethney. When Rob Reynolds was recently in Lebanon, he visited them and saw two people with a passion for meeting the educational needs of refugee children.
Tom and Bethney also invest in those serving with them, so short-term mission partners like Hannah benefit as much as the children. During her time in Lebanon Hannah built relationships with young adults that she got to know. Her year in Lebanon has made her want to work in mission in future – Hannah admits she had never imagined herself here, “but the more I thought about it, the more this part of the world intrigued me. I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up in the Middle East again!”
At the centre, Rob saw a 16-year-old refugee, Samira, working as a teacher aid: “It was amazing to see her potential as a teacher being encouraged.“ In fact, the first year Samira was turned away as a student, because she wasn’t young enough. But she persisted, Tom remembers, and the next year she was allowed to come as an observer.
“We were sharing the story of the passover with the children,” he says. “Because we cover the whole Bible every year, I asked the students from the previous year if they could remember the story. Samira raised her hand. I gently pointed out that she had not been with us in the first year so could not know the story. She insisted she did. She recounted the story in great detail and explained the salvation that it pointed towards.” Samira said that her little brother had come home the previous year and shared what he had learnt at the centre. Refugee children, wrenched from their schools in the home country, are hungry for knowledge.
“At the centre we work through the Bible chronologically in assembly, deliberately taking time in the Old Testament. One day one of the young girls sitting at the front interrupted me during an OT story and asked ‘When are you going to tell us the stories about Jesus?’” Tom remembers. A parent told him that the ministry of the education centre had made their families love Christians. Primary teachers are needed here, and wouldn’t need to speak Arabic.
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Elsewhere, another learning centre for refugee children provides hope for kids who have escaped civil war in Sudan, providing a safe learning environment and psychological support, where 450 children come every day to receive a quality, biblically-based education. It’s full to capacity and the directors would love to expand.
When asked if they have opportunities for more people to get involved, they just laugh. Of course they do! They’re looking for a director, a volunteer coordinator and a finance manager, as well as teachers for all subjects, especially art, music and computing. They also need short-term volunteers who will come and read with the children, helping them improve their literacy.
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A Christian school in another Middle Eastern country is looking for qualified teachers for all subjects, and even short-term volunteer teachers who don’t need any formal qualifications. Teaching here would provide a unique opportunity to reach children with the gospel – it’s the only school in this country that teaches the Bible every day.
The school provides accommodation and even a small salary for teachers. If you’ve ever thought about using your teaching skills in a new country, this would be a great place for you.
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Go – Could you come and help? Thanks to SIM’s merger with MECO, we now have experienced workers in many parts of the Middle East – and opportunities for many more to join them. There are openings for teachers everywhere in this part of the world, joining caring, committed people, making a real difference in the lives of children. To find out more, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pray – for more workers to be raised up to serve in Lebanon and the wider Middle East