Lebanon (MNN) – Horizons International’s School of Hope is educating and positively influencing refugee children in Lebanon. It started as a class of 20 Christian refugee kids from Muslim backgrounds who were in dire need of an education.
Horizons International’s Pierre Houssney says God worked through the ministry center where the program is based to start drawing Muslims to Himself. In 2014, the center saw more than 400 Muslims embrace faith in Jesus.
“One of the byproducts of that was you have a lot of brand new Christian homes that are in a community together,” Houssney says. “In those homes, you have a lot of kids that don’t really know who they are because they come from Muslim backgrounds, but their parents are now believers in Christ.”
A School is Born
Through the curriculum, Horizons International had the opportunity to disciple kids and introduce them to Jesus. As Horizons International discipled these children, they saw a need for education.
“We were at a position where we had a lot of kids who had accepted the Gospel already or were in families that had members that had accepted the Gospel, but they had no school to go to,” Houssney says.
“So we just came in at that level of their need, and we brought together some believing Syrian people who had educational experience. We started a school with our first class of 20 kids in March 2015.”
Since the inception of the school, the student body has grown to 120 students and more grade levels have been added to accommodate children as they grow older. Now, Horizons International hopes to add fifth-grade to continue educating students.
Houssney explains School of Hope is not a licensed school, but it is aimed to teach children so they can enter educational programs when they return to Syria or travel abroad. They cover everything — from basic skills like cutting a piece of paper with scissors to more advanced skills such as reading, writing, and solving math problems.
A Positive Influence
Horizons International sees the importance of this education and the positive influences they are making on children as they are susceptible to dangerous ideologies.
“If they don’t have education, if they don’t have critical thinking, if they don’t have information [and] historical context to put into their life experience, then anybody who comes along and has a powerful narrative for them,… they will follow those people — especially if they’re able to give them a little bit of money in their pocket, put a gun in their hand, make them feel powerful, [and] make them feel they’re accomplishing something,” Houssney says.
To fill that gap, Horizons International is providing the narrative of Jesus overcoming sin, His sacrifice for them, and His example of love, gentleness, and kindness they should follow.
With this positive spiritual narrative changing kids’ lives, Houssney says it’s easier for them to reject messages of violence and hatred.
As the school begins offering fifth-grade and continues accepting more students, one of the biggest needs is sponsorship.
Horizons International’s sponsorship program partners with people around the world, like you, to help support Syrian refugee students.
“For $55 a month, [donors are] giving them the opportunity to have an education, a Christian education, here in Lebanon as a refugee. This is something that’s really transforming people’s lives.”
Currently, only about 50 of the 120 students are sponsored.
“We definitely need more sponsors in order to add the grade five level next year without having to stop one of the kindergarten classes that we have,” Houssney says.
Header photo courtesy of Horizons International.