We just returned to the orphanage after a day in downtown Beirut. We began the day attending one of the founding Baptist Churches here. It was a great experience. The women sat on one side of the sanctuary while the men sat on the other. Most of the women covered their heads with scarves while they were in the church. Since the whole service was in formal Arabic we didn’t understand any of it. However, listening to the singing and prayers was awesome. I love hearing our brothers and sisters in Christ singing and praying in their mother tongue. While I don’t understand the words, I understand the feelings and faith behind them. One of the songs was about how God has not forgotten them and how they are saved, redeemed, and cleansed (thanks to Sheila for the translation while I sat and listened). After church, we went to downtown Beirut to walk around. It was remarkable to walk around the block and see a Greek Orthodox Church, the Marionite Archdiocese, a mosque and around the corner there was an Armenian Church. I was amazed by and so thankful for the freedoms that the Lebanese enjoy here.We were also able to see the Beirut Baptist School which has around 2000 kids from preschool to high school. It is in the middle of a Muslim area of town and the students are 98% Muslim. They attend bible classes and chapel and are exposed to a Christian worldview. The school is very highly regarded and provides an amazing witness to a Muslim neighborhood.
We are now back at the orphanage and the kids are slowly trickling in. They have been gone for close to 3 weeks for summer break. I am outside under a tree blogging while surrounded by the sounds of kids playing soccer and laughing and playing together. It is delightful! Tonight we are just enjoying one another and playing. We will begin tutoring and having afternoon play times tomorrow (Monday). We are all still enjoying our time here and are very excited about getting to begin our work here with the kids. We have been told that the transition can be hard for the boys when they return to the orphanage from their homes. Since this has been an extra-long break, you can pray for peace for their sweet hearts as they return here and leave their families once again.
After a supper of sandwiches, Brent took us to tour each of the units where the boys live. They had all showered and were watching videos. We each introduced ourselves and they introduced themselves. They seemed excited to meet us and wanted to know how long we would be here. Some speak English, and some have not been at the orphanage long enough to know it that well.
Also, we met a young lady, Mariah, from Christ Baptist Church, the Lebanese church with whom we will be partnering this week. Mariah said that when they were preparing for this week they only had 3 volunteers and she was concerned they would not be able to handle the 24 kids. She expressed her reservations with her pastor and he said, “We will just have to pray about it.” When we were talking with her, we told her that we were here to partner with them and wanted to help in any way we could. She responded, “you are an answer to prayer.”
The Lord has opened many doors for this trip to happen and now we find out He was also preparing us as an answer to prayers here in Lebanon. Pray that we continue to be what the Lord wants us to be.