Philemon Project Preschool - May 2016 Update
Dear friends and supporters of the Philemon Preschool,
The Philemon Project Preschool focuses on the (mostly Muslim) children of low-income immigrant workers and Syrians, providing quality care and an avenue along which Christ may be made known to the children and their parents. The Philemon Preschool is under the auspices of the National Evangelical Church, a sister-denomination to The Outreach Foundation’s principal partner in Lebanon, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon.
Our ministry provides Christian-led early childhood development for at-risk poor Lebanese, Syrian refugee, and migrant children. Our focus is on children ages one to four years old. Additionally, we work with parents in our adult mentoring program. Mentoring the parents helps them develop the skills they will need to create lasting, healthy, and productive relationships with their children. The following is a story of Samir and his daughter, Luna, one of many refugee families mentored by this ministry.
I recall it vividly. Samir came into my office two years ago. He wanted to enroll his two-year-old daughter, Luna, in our program. Samir was a Syrian refugee trying to make a new life in Lebanon. He turned to me and said, "I'm a poor man, so I can't pay much." I said that wouldn't be a problem. Many partners help us to help you! Then he shocked me and said, "Besides, she's a girl, and I'm not sure if I want to keep her in school..." I had to hold my tongue. I uttered a quiet prayer, smiled, and said, "She is most welcome here."
Nothing shocks me. I've experienced the stark realities of the vulnerable poor in Lebanon. I am not surprised by what I see and hear. The fact is that sin deeply mars all human beings and renders us broken. Some, however, experience the grim certainties by remaining perpetually in cycles of violence, poverty, and dysfunction.
I firmly believe that the church must do more. We must act to defy popular sentiments and care for the least fortunate in our midst. Throughout the 66 canonical biblical narratives, we glean the Imago Dei (image of God) and human dignity. From the opening in Genesis, the overriding theme is that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God; therefore, all human beings have value and worth.
The theological concept of Imago Dei is a defining theological anchor that underpins all Christian communities. Because all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, they must be protected from violence. The vision of the Philemon Project is to provide very poor Lebanese, migrant, and refugee children with the best possible preschool program, seeking to close race and income-based achievement gaps.
Two years have passed since I first met Samir and his daughter Luna, and in those two years, the Philemon Project cared for Luna through its Christian early childhood learning program and her family through our adult mentoring work. Today, Luna speaks three languages seamlessly (English, Arabic, and Amharic), and she loves to read. When you meet her, you'll see a confident little girl with a bright future, who knows Jesus loves her.
Samir was beaming with pride when I saw him last in my office this past October. He proudly shared, “Luna is going to private school!” He went on to say, “I’m a poor man. I’ll always be a poor man. But my daughter has a future. And if I have to sell my blood to educate her, I will.”
Today, Luna is enjoying her first year of regular school, and her parents report she is at the top of her class.
The Philemon Project depends on the generous provisions of God’s people to continue our mission. We are grateful for your support and prayers.
Executive Director of the Philemon Project
Amount needed in 2016
The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $8,000 for general operations and supplies for the Philemon Project Preschool. To make a donation, click the Donate Now link in the sidebar.
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