This leisurely evening was spent sitting in a breeze on the big marble porch and enjoyed visiting and eating baklava with Joseph Kassab, the General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, and his beautiful and brilliant wife, Najla. Najla is an ordained Presbyterian pastor and head of this women’s conference in the mountains of Lebanon. Joseph shared the following with us regarding the future of the church here:
Presbyterian churches of Syria and Lebanon are very close, like a family. The Lebanon churches take loving care of the Syrian churches especially since the war began. This war has turned families and individuals upside down. They laugh and joke here to be rid of pain. The church has to take care of their sheep. The young people have gone to other countries to be safe. The young ones who are left couldn’t obtain visas. There are some very brave pastors who choose to stay with their people. One pastor in northeast Syria (see map from yesterday) was left alone for four years alone, serving four churches encouraging people to stay.
The entire country is devastated. He does not believe Syria will come back to be the advanced and thriving country it once was. To build a strong country, one must start with schools. Education is very important and 70% of children go to private schools. The church has schools to educate children. ISIS knows this, too, and one of the first things they did was to start ISIS schools to indoctrinate children in their violent ways.
Churches need churches to help them because nobody else will. It has been so exciting to visit some of these wonderful evangelical schools who are educating all children, both Christian and Muslim to learn, love and envision the kind of future they want.
Blessings from Lebanon~