Ghinwa Akiki

In a newly planted church within a non-Christian Lebanese community, the atmosphere filled with astonishment among the children as the Bible teacher asked, “Who do you think the crowd will choose to release, Barabbas or Jesus?”

While the children expected the answer to be Jesus, the teacher surprised them when she said it was Barabbas. 

“Why did they hate Jesus this much?” a child asked. Hearing the story of Easter for the very first time, the boy expressed sadness. The resurrection storyone so familiar to believers that its power and awe are often lost on us – surprised him.  

Throughout March and April, Thimar and partner churches in Lebanon and Syria shared this life changing story with thousands of other children. This Easter had a different feel in the Middle East. It arrived amid pain and suffering, allowing people to empathize with what Jesus endured before His crucifixion. In times when we are consumed by anger towards life’s injustices, we find ourselves standing at the cross of Jesus, asking: How did You endure all this pain while continuing to love and offer mercy and forgiveness?  

The love of Jesus, His death, and resurrection were the main messages shared in 20 churches in Lebanon, reaching 1,500 children, and 14 churches in Syria, reaching 2,795 children. Local churches took the initiative to organize Easter events for the children of their communities, extending the narrative from Jesus’ birth to His resurrection while emphasizing the true essence of Easter, and inviting children to receive Jesus into their hearts. Salt and Light, a ministry of Thimar – LSESD, seized the opportunity to engage with children following similar Christmas events last year (Blissful Little Ears). Their goal was to foster an environment where churches and ministries could reflect God’s love through meaningful activities like Bible stories, worship, games, and interactions. Thimar supported the churches with the traditional Lebanese sweets, ‘Maamoul’, chocolate eggs, and children’s booklets from Thimar’s publishing house, Dar Manhal al Hayat, which came as an encouragement for the churches and a sweet gift for the children. 

Amid current events shaking peace and security in the Middle East, a limited but escalating war has unfolded in Lebanon since October, with attacks hitting the Beqaa Valley and the capital Beirut. Stress and fear loom over the region, leaving Lebanon under constant threat and in fear that war could escalate into a larger conflict at any moment. In Syria, the ongoing civil-war has displaced and changed the course of millions of lives

Thimar Salt and Light Easter in Lebanon and Syria

Amidst the chaos, people may struggle to perceive God’s presence while grappling with trauma and death. Nonetheless, the kindness and love children and their families received from the churches this season offered solace, peace, and much-needed hope.  

Children were taught that they are never alone. God is sovereign and watches over us. He loves us so much that He wanted to reconcile us with the Father, to take us out of the darkness of the world and into His kingdom. In a part of Beirut home to underprivileged Lebanese and Syrians who fled their country, children attended one of the Easter events and listened to the Bible story for the first time. The Word of God echoed loudly in the halls and comforted the little hearts. The gesture of kindness drew smiles on the children’s faces, especially during financial crises when even traditional holiday rituals are no longer affordable. Churches were encouraged, especially since, for one church, it was their first outreach within their community. 

Thimar’s mission is to support the local church in spreading the Gospel, with children’s ministry being at the heart of our faith-based organization. It is through cultivating young minds with the seeds of faith in Jesus Christ that these children will come to know Him, experience His love and forgiveness, and undergo transformation in their lives. 

Salt and Light Easter in Lebanon and Syria
Maamoul Thimar LSESD Easter in Lebanon and Syria

As we continue with our lives, let us also find inspiration from the story of the boy mentioned at the start of this story. Let us always reflect on Jesus’ resurrection with the same sort of awe and astonishment. Indeed, who can encounter the story of Easter for the first time without being amazed at the cruelty of humans on one side and the power of Jesus’ love on the other? Let us live in that love wherever we go and whatever may come. 

Pray for peace and stability in the Middle East.

Join us in supporting Salt and Light and the local churches in their mission to spread the Gospel.

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