We welcomed more than 160 displaced children to our second Little Heroes programme in Lattakia, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria. Thank God for our Ambassadors for Peace who had helped me to plan and organise the event, and who gave up their time to help lead the programme with me.
Many of the children who attended our first programme came back, plus we were joined by a good number of newcomers. As this was a special follow-up event, we chose a theme that would help the children move on in their faith; for many of children, the phrase 'Allahu Akbar', which is just Arabic for 'God is the greatest', has left them fearful of God the Father; they associate the name of God with sectarian acts of violence, cruelty and destruction.
Over three days, we worked with the children through Bible study, hymns, stories, games and crafts. Each day had its own theme. The first day was God the Creator, day two was the God of love, and the final day focussed on God the Merciful. Each day, the leaders began with prayers, and we finished each day with an evaluation - both to see how the children were doing, and to support our many volunteers. The feedback we received was wonderful. One of our volunteers said that the children were smiling again, and another reported that the children had thanked him for helping them to get to know God the Father as a friend again.
At the end of the Little Heroes programme, we were joined by the Church Scouts band for a celebration (please see above, middle). On the right, you can see some our Little Heroes standing in front of their banner. The three days went really, really well, and we were very happy with the results. The children left us enlightened in every sense of the word, their faith reinvigorated, and a new sense of positivity and hope clear for all to see.
Now I have half a day off before we prepare to go to begin new Little Heroes programmes with more than 300 displaced children, aged 9 to 12, in the Tartous province of Syria. Please keep us all in your prayers.