Bringing Joy to Syrian Kids at Christmas—and All Year Long
December 26, 2013
Even a brutal war could not stop this church in Syria from hosting Christmas celebrations recently for youngsters in the community. The children enjoyed a dramatic presentation of the Christmas story and received small gifts.
The Old Testament prophet Samuel was only a little boy when God first spoke to him. He faithfully served God all of his life as a leader among the Israelites. One of his greatest honors was anointing a teenage shepherd boy named David to become the future king of Israel.
Alaa learned about these Bible heroes while attending a Kids’ Club this past spring in northern Lebanon. The 12-year-old girl received encouragement knowing if God can use youth like Samuel and David, he may have special plans for her life too.
“As Samuel had a personal relationship with God, I want to have this special relationship too. I love Jesus so much,” she said.
A local ministry hosted the program as an outreach to the children of Syrian refugees. After watching a dramatic presentation about the life of Samuel, the children participated in discussion group questions. More than 60 youngsters came to the event.
During the summer the ministry team followed up with a Kids’ Club that used the story of the Good Samaritan as its theme. Some 140 boys and girls attended this special program and received small gifts.
Another 12-year-old girl named Lama can’t get enough of the ministry’s activities for children. So far she has attended six camps and nine Kid's Clubs events. Because of these outreach programs in Lebanon, Lama heard the good news of Jesus Christ and received him as her Savior.
“I always come to the activities to pray to Jesus with other kids,” she said. “I want Jesus to be with us always, even when we return to our homes.”
The ministry is one of several receiving assistance from Christian Aid Mission that shares the love of Jesus with hurting Syrian families throughout the Middle East. During the Christmas season, believers have more opportunities to freely communicate the gospel message. Children—and their parents who accompany them—participate in the holiday celebrations, which often include dramatic presentations, a meal, and distribution of simple gifts.
The festive events also offer a bit of a reprieve from the constant hardships they face as victims of war.
Added Hardships in Jordan
Boys and girls gathered in a prayer circle at a church outreach event.
Last week the Jordanian desert looked more like a winter wonderland when the region received upwards of five inches of snow. The frigid weather was not welcomed, however, by refugees who are living in tents without heat or electricity.
As part of its Christmas outreach, one ministry is supplying blankets and heaters to suffering families. Workers are also hosting weekly gatherings for children and women.
“Our goal is to give them hope for the future and to help them recover their peace and joy,” said the ministry’s leader. “Please pray that we can have the ability to help them so they can really feel warmth, joy, and peace this Christmas.”
Gospel workers with another ministry in Jordan deliver food parcels, water, and medicine to Syrians living in overcrowded refugee camps. They also provide assistance to Christian families who have chosen to remain in their homeland.
During a recent visit to a camp near Amman, the workers found an extended family of 14 living in two rooms. For several months the entire family had lived in an elementary school classroom in Syria. The brothers and uncles were car mechanics and electrical engineers in Syria, but they cannot obtain similar jobs in Jordan.
For Christmas the ministry plans to bless 150 or more refugee families with “Joy Bags.” These holiday packages are filled with food, blankets, water, and toys.
Gospel Opportunities Multiply inside Syria
Kids’ Clubs offer year-round opportunities for Syrian children to have fun and feel safe.
Within Syria, a children’s outreach is greatly impacting youngsters through a program called “Joy for Kids.” Organizers seek to introduce biblical truths in a creative, engaging way through dramatic presentations. They also plan to continue hosting camps and regular clubs with the help of the local churches to reach children and to disciple them.
“Children want to come to church meetings and hear more about Jesus, even though they are Muslim kids. God is giving us great opportunities to share what we have with others,” said the ministry leader.
Of course, children do not attend these outreaches unless their parents bring them. The parents sit quietly in the background, but they listen and often ask for prayer.
In some cases, the spiritual impact is significant, even miraculous. The ministry leader said no more than 15 people would attend their church meetings many years ago. Now he marvels to see over 850 people come, most of who are from a Muslim background.
“A Muslim lady said to us after one of the meetings: ‘Please don't stop what you are doing after the war is over. We would love to have you over in our houses, if anything is still left.”
Even long-time children’s ministry workers were taken by surprise with the popularity of programs like this year’s Kids’ Clubs. Children ages 8 to 15 are coming three or four times a week.
That one ministry team is based in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Next year they want to organize 10 to 15 teams that will offer children’s outreach programs in every region of the country.
The ministry leader said their goal is to share the gospel with 15,000 kids and provide material needs for 5,000 of them. Their immediate need is equipment for the teams, such as a portable sound system, LCD projector, and a small generator. They also need to rent a mini-van for the teams to transport props and the mobile stage. Children’s Bibles and music CD’s will need to be purchased for classroom materials. The estimated cost of equipment and supplies for each ministry team is $14,800.
This child’s family received a blanket and a lamp.
Preparations have already started for the “Joy for Kids” team and for the “Relief Team.” Christmas activities currently are in full swing and will transition into 2014 with follow-up events, camps, clubs, and visits to families.
“Our passion is to see children and their parents spiritually blessed with our activities, and for our country to love the true God, the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Of high priority is the need to train volunteers who will follow-up with the children. The ministry aims to organize training conferences in Lebanon where they can have easy access to instructors and a safe place to spend time with God worshiping, learning, and enjoying fellowship with one another.
“It is important to spread the word that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and to remind His children of this fact,” he said.