December 2, 2015
BEIRUT: If you’ve had the privilege of spending any time at Beirut Baptist School, you’ve witnessed the fact that each school day is a condensed expression of eager joy, clear purpose, and genuine love. Inside the high walls of the campus exists beautiful harmony in a diverse community. The school’s faculty and staff, as well as the student body of 1,300, represent every aspect of Lebanon’s diverse population, and the school is a thriving picture of unity in a region that deeply needs it. The leadership affectionately refers to it as a “lighthouse” in the city, which reflects the ongoing legacy of its founders.
An elementary English teacher leads the class in a fun learning activity at BBS. (Photo: Ashley al-Saliby)
BBS recently honored one of its founders, James Ragland, through the dedication of a new secondary building. According to Executive Director, Nabil Costa, of LSESD (parent organization of the school and MEBO’s partner in Lebanon), James Ragland left a legacy of “practical Christianity.” The school’s current generation of leadership demonstrates the same priority. Ms. Alice Azar Wazir, the Director of Academics and a BBS graduate herself, shared, “My hopes and aims for BBS in the next few years are to be faithful to the mission of the founders, to be able to keep BBS as a lighthouse, to graduate students with unique characters and to make a difference in their lives so they are able to serve Lebanon and make a difference in their community as well.” Mr. Tony Haddad, who co-leads BBS with Ms. Wazir, first served the school as chaplain. In his new role as Director of Operations and Administration, his heartbeat has not changed. “It is a great privilege and honor to be able to serve and bring the message of hope to students and the wider BBS community,” he said.
The “practical Christianity” that has been woven into the fabric of the school since its founding continues to influence its day-to-day operation in several ways. BBS’s motto is, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Administrators like Ms. Wazir and Mr. Haddad continue to lead in light of that statement. Additionally, the school makes it a priority to instill genuine compassion in its students through annual, engaging, campus-wide projects to serve the poor, cancer patients, orphans, or local prisoners. The school also continues to take unprecedented strides toward inclusiveness for students with special needs, in cooperation with the center for Smart Kids with Individual Learning Differences, which is another valued MEBO partner.
Middle school students sit with their Arabic teacher in the BBS library. (Photo: Ashley al-Saliby)
After spending time at BBS, a singlular theme has lingered and represents what is, perhaps, the most intrinsic and eternal expression of “practical Christianity.” Each of the administrators and teachers who serve wholeheartedly, giving long hours of their lives each week, genuinely love BBS students. This love is unmistakable as their motivation and is characteristic of the way they interact with students in their classrooms. When asked, secondary students who have grown up at BBS describe it as their “family” and “second home,” attributing that atmosphere to the teachers and administration. For many of these educators, the love they show in the classrooms and hallways is a reflection of an even greater love. They love because God has first loved us. As you consider the significant impact of this school in West Beirut, the ripple effect these teachers and school leaders have in the lives of countless students and families across Beirut, throughout the Levant*, and around the world, it is evident just how far these faithful investments of love can go.
*”The Levant” is a geographical reference to nations located on the Western shores of the Mediterranean Sea.