Upon receiving a gift designated for staff enrichment, Maha, our Nazareth Village Director decided, “that since God chose to bless our staff with this gift, we ought to think about how we as a team can bless others.” She reports how plans unfolded.
Our staff decided that the money should be used to help fund a weekend trip to Amman, Jordan. But rather than simply focusing on having fun sightseeing and team-building, we also wanted to use our time to help the children of Christian refugees from Iraq living in Jordan.
Most refugees from Iraq are Christians escaping murderous persecution, but there are also refugees from war-torn Syria in Jordan. Unable to find work legally, these refugees struggle to provide for their families while their children do not have the right to state education in Jordan.
One local church has been responding to this need by running a school for refugee children. We had already been supporting their families by selling artistic goods that they produce in our Nazareth Village Gift Shop. However, this was a wonderful opportunity to do more. The church leaders explained the biggest need for these children was basic school supplies for the upcoming year and food for their families.
So, we started planning fun activities for our visit to the children and fundraising for school supplies. In the end, the office supplier who we approached for “back-to-school” materials made a generous donation of 60 backpacks, drinking bottles and pencil cases. One staff member personally bought sets of coloured pencils to add to the gifts. It was amazing to see how God gave us more resources with which to bless the refugees, enabling us to better serve them.
When the time came, 29 of us (staff and spouses) set off for Jordan and on the way to Amman stopped to run a 2-hour mini-camp for the refugee children. We showed them our Nazareth Village children’s video, which explains life in the First Century and the story of Jesus. Our staff then guided them through the rest of the activities in smaller groups, including fun outdoor games and teaching a worship song in Arabic, English and French, as well as face-painting and dressing up in first-century replica costume. The children also took photos with one of our ‘villagers’ and we made sure the organisers had copies for them. There were many hugs for our staff from the children and much laughter.
At the end, we gave each child a new school backpack, drinking bottle and a filled pencil case. With the $3,000 our staff had raised, we were able to give a food hamper with supplies for two weeks to each child’s family. What a wonderful opportunity this was for us as staff in a Christian organisation to put our faith into action and see the provision of God, who supplied above and beyond what we originally hoped to bring. This combined holiday, staff-development and ministry trip was a first for the Nazareth Village staff and we are praying for more opportunities like this to show the love of Christ in action.