Every summer, Horizons International partners with churches from around the world to put on a series of camps for refugee kids in Lebanon. The following is a report on how amazing our time was at our camp last week with the Gate International Church from San Mateo, California.
What took place at the Beqaa Kids Camp?
Day 1: Every morning the kids would come and check in with us and then we would settle them down. During the first day, it was hard to maintain discipline since those children had not been to school and were not disciplined at home. After settling them down we started with a prayer and a worship song that talks about stretching our love for God. All the kids memorized it and had the chance to repeat it throughout the camp with hand motions.
Using Drama and art for education and sharing the Word of God
The team had prepared a drama to tell Daniel’s story. The drama was divided into three parts and it included a small lesson on how to eat healthy while explaining Daniel’s fast. The drama also included a lesson on fruits and vegetables and on naming animals. Later, the children played some games and had their break. After the break, the children were taught numbers from 1 to 10 in Arabic.
Then they were given the option between staying inside and drawing what they had learned during the day or playing soccer outside. The drawings surprised us a lot, a lot of them focused on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire with Jesus by their side. And another surprise was the fact that old boys preferred drawing over soccer. We then brought all the kids together and showed them some of their peers’ drawings and allowed the child to explain what they drew. We ended our day with a prayer and as the children left we made sure that everyone attending our first day would receive a pack of vitamins.
It was brought to our attention that the children were making fun of the female servants and had a problem submitting to them. So as the team prayed after the kids left, God led us to change the story for the next day to show the children that God values the woman.
A larger group, fun worship, and learning about Queen Esther
During the second day, the 110 children became 120, we knew we had crossed our limit but we didn’t want to say no to anyone. The children by now knew who was leading the day so most of the troublemakers were quieter. We started the day with prayer, we set some ground rules to follow and most importantly we set two “counseling boots” one for boys and one for girls.
For worship, we gave them the option to choose their favorite song and they had all agreed on the one that talks about Jesus being sweeter than sugar.
The drama was about Queen Esther. All the team was involved in the drama and the kids, boys and girls were really amazed by every scene and every costume. After the drama, the kids were reminded of numbers while adding shapes like triangle, square, rectangle, and parallelogram. They learned to identify the shapes in the room and to count their sides and angles and to compare between shapes. They were very responsive to that lesson! The children then played some games, had their snacks and like day one they were divided in two teams, those who want to draw and those who want to play soccer or dodge ball. We ended our day with sharing the drawings and praying together.
When we got back to Beirut we joined hands in prayer to see how the Lord will guide us for the third day and to prepare the gifts that the kids will receive at the end of the camp. The Lord gave us great hopes for the Beqaa Valley and for our center that. We know that great days are ahead and this gave us strength to continue our third day.
Medical Examinations, Even Greater Numbers, & the Good Shepard
As the third day was beginning, Dr. Daniel had the chance to examine some of the children and to take a look at their chests and breaths. Thankfully he was able to diagnose a child with a serious heart problem so that we can seek further medical attention for him. Koutayba needs a heart surgery very urgently or else he could die. This shocked us but we were all praying for him all day asking the Lord to show us how we can best help him.
By now the final day, the children were well behaved, whenever one of the servants would stand at the front and do a cheer that they had learned, they would sit quietly to listen. We had 48 new comers on our last day but they quickly adapted to the system. Our day started with prayer and a worship song that gives praise to God and how He makes our road straight ahead of us. Then the Bible story was about the Good Shepherd. After the drama, some of the children played outside while others were doing what appeared to be their favorite hobby, drawing. All children gathered at the end to pray and give thanks and to celebrate the end of our camp.
The total number of registered kids was 131 but more kept coming and we decided to receive them all and prepare more gifts on the spot (we had to be creative). Every child received a pack that contained coloring papers and pencils, a juice and a snack. We said our goodbyes after we told them the meeting schedules and when they can find us.
We had stopped an hour earlier hoping to do some house visits but a woman passed by the center with a sick child. We discovered that he has brain hemorrhage that caused him to be paralyzed with difficulties in talking and slow reactions. The team prayed for him and anointed him with oil after getting the mother’s approval. We also talked to the mother and prayed for her. Then we left to visit Koutayba’s tent so that we can clarify his case to his mother. We discovered there that his name was on the list for an open heart surgery but he has been waiting for four months and still has gotten no response. But Koutayba was not the only sick child of the family. He had told us that he had a blind sister but when Dr. Daniel examined her, we discovered that she had complete frontal lobe damage and she had to be moved urgently to the hospital because she hadn’t eaten for a month and her blood pressure was very low. She is now in a vegetative state. We asked for the mother’s permission to pray life over her children. We prayed for protection and strength as well before promising that we will do whatever we can to help their family.
The children now know that we have an open center all week and they know how to reach us. We have created friendships and we will try to maintain them by going at least once a week so that they will have stability and normalcy in their lives.
We pray that after our summer camps we will be able to take children’s ministry to a new level. Teaching math, science, behavior and other subjects while always focusing on the Bible. But this will need a lot of preparation.
We also believe after this camp that we need to partner with NGOs who provide health care for the children. Our clinics are very efficient for normal sicknesses and medications but when it comes to hospitalization and surgeries that is a whole new level to attend to.
Lastly, this camp was a refreshing experience to all those who served there from Horizons and we thank the Lord for this opportunity and for all the love that He has planted in us for the Beqaa Center and for the people there.
If you would like to sponsor a refugee child to go to our School of Hope, or if you would like to give generally to humanitarian aid for refugee kids, you may do so here: Refugee Children Donation Form.
If you would like to talk about getting your church to partner with Horizons to run a camp for refugee children, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.