EBF Assistant General Secretary
It was the last morning of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD). It’s name, LSESD, was changed just a few days ago to become THIMAR that is to say the fruits of labor or of a tree.
We had spent nearly 72 hours with sisters and brothers, from 40 countries, learning about how God worked through the LSESD/THIMAR team as they embarked on a journey of empowering the Church in Middle East and North Africa.
Our friend Nabil Costa, chief executive officer of the organization and member of the European Baptist Federation (EBF) executive committee, invited some members of our EBF group to visit the campus. We started our visit at the bottom of the building in the premises of the Center for Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences (SKILD). After finishing there, we went up the stairs on which we can read the following sentences:
- I will not do it
- I can not do it
- I want to do it
- How do we do it?
- I will try to do it
- I can do it
- I will do it
These were small steps, but each step brought me closer to a sight I had never seen before. Moments later, I stood on the roof of the THIMAR offices and enjoyed the view: the beautiful city of Beirut, blending into the blue sea and the vast sky. A huge change in perspective from a narrow corridor to a wide horizon over the entire city and beyond. And I was absolutely amazed.
Likewise, I am absolutely amazed at how THIMAR has grown from its humble beginnings to become an organization that, over its 25 years of existence, has broadened its horizons from a “narrow corridor to the entire city and beyond”, like the view that unfolded before my eyes from the roof of THIMAR.
But it is not just about the development of small operations into a well-structured and efficient organization. Far from there! I believe that it is not possible to count all the people whose horizons have expanded from a very limited everyday reality to many new opportunities.
I think of the BBS students who had the opportunity to study even when their parents did not have money to pay their tuition fees. I think of the Syrian refugee children who have no place in public schools and who, thanks to the commitment of MERATH, one of the organizations under THIMAR, receive a good education and support for their families.
I think of the children and young people who, without the services of the SKILD centre, founded by Nabil Costa 10 years ago to help children who have learning difficulties, would never have the confidence or skills to study, work and live an independent life.
I think of the students of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), an establishment whose specialization is the teaching of religion according to the Baptist community in Lebanon. These are young men and women who have found their calling through inspiring teachers and will serve churches and people in many difficult situations.
I think of the people who reached out after a book published in DMAH and found new hope in Christ and new strength in their lives.
And I think of the young people whose lives have been rooted in Christ through Salt and Light.
Countless people have encountered Jesus in the eyes of those who serve them, and because of it, their lives have been changed forever.
None of these services reached their current form without struggles. Like the SKILD staircase that so aptly describes the struggle of a child trying to find a way forward and upward. However, it is hardly possible to fight alone against the difficulties of one’s personal life or of Lebanese society.
I think of the children and young people who, without the services of the SKILD centre, would never have the confidence or skills to study, work and live an independent life.
When I asked the THIMAR staff members how they were doing, how they had managed all these unimaginable difficulties, the answer was the same: we are a family, we do it together. From these conversations I realized that the logo of the 25th anniversary celebrations “TOGETHER” is not simply a nice slogan but a daily reality for THIMAR team as well as for their collaborators and partners. Once again, the call of the Apostle Paul to the Church of Galatia acquired for me a deeper meaning and showed the fruits it bears.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2