It would be difficult to avoid the regular news footage showing thousands of people from Syria and Lebanon being forced to leave their homeland in search of safety and peace somewhere else. With this in mind, the project is highlighting the stories of young people and children who, along with their families, have suffered trauma and been displaced from their own countries. The project is focusing on those who are in Lebanon and being supported through the work of National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL) and Open Doors, both partners of PCI.
In Lebanon the project is supporting the work of NESSL as it builds a school for the children who are living in refugee camps. The money raised by the Presbyterian Church will help to finance the renovation and refurbishment of an old school building and to employ Syrian teachers from the refugee camp. Open Doors is involved in helping a local organisation in offering food packages and other essentials. The money we raise will help to finance their efforts and provide Bibles and resources for youth and children’s programmes in the camps.
In Syria we are supporting the work of Open Doors as it distributes Bibles. The Christian Church there is in the midst of all the violence and telling people about Jesus. Money raised by PCI will see that more Bibles are shipped to Syria and distributed among new Christians there.
Miriam, Achmed and Ghalib
'Journeys of Promise' tells the story of three individuals who represent the many people who live in a situation like this. Miriam is a nine-year-old refugee in Lebanon; Achmed is 13 and also lives in the Lebanese refugee camp; while Ghalib is a key Bible distributor in Syria and involved with Open Doors.
The verse from Leviticus highlighted above is the memory verse for this year’s project – the desire is for the children and young people of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to understand how they can make a difference in the world, by living out their faith as part of a community of global concern.
So how have the children and young people of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland engaged with ‘Journeys of Promise’?
Well, this is how the children of Kilbride Presbyterian’s Sunday school brought the project to life… they got creative and made origami refugee tents, and not only that, the tents were then displayed in the church, as people viewed them they were invited to leave a donation inside the tent.
The young people, along with members of the congregation, also built a life-size refugee shelter using whatever materials they could find, just like those living in refugee camps would have to do.
Melanie Bowden from Kilbride Sunday school said, “We built a shelter to give the youngsters an idea what it might be like to need one. We are also making origami tents as our fundraiser. The project this year is clear and easy for all of us to get our heads round as it's very much around us at present.”
Ruth Bromley, PCI Children’s Development Officer, launched the Project at Annalong Presbyterian Church. She said, “Each child in their Sunday school was given a box of mini chocolate eggs and once they had eaten the eggs, they were asked to use the box as a money box towards the Project.
“The congregation also keeps a money box at the front of the church all year round, with the congregation putting in coins for different projects – including this one – throughout the year.”
Ruth describes one church she knows of that holds a ‘Cupcake Sunday’. Once again the Sunday school are involved, the children decorate the buns and then they are sold at the coffee time following the morning service to raise money for the project.
These are just some examples of how the Youth and Children’s Project can be used to communicate to children, young people and the whole congregation the needs in other places.
Two Youth and Children’s Project packs are sent to every congregation in PCI, and it’s not too late to get involved. To find out more click here or contact the Congregational Life and Witness office email: firstname.lastname@example.org