Ghinwa Akiki

In a newly planted church within a non-Christian Lebanese community, the atmosphere filled with astonishment among the children as the Bible teacher asked, “Who do you think the crowd will choose to release, Barabbas or Jesus?”

While the children expected the answer to be Jesus, the teacher surprised them when she said it was Barabbas. 

“Why did they hate Jesus this much?” a child asked. Hearing the story of Easter for the very first time, the boy expressed sadness. The resurrection story – one so familiar to believers that its power and awe are often lost on us – surprised him.  

Throughout March and April, Thimar and partner churches in Lebanon and Syria shared this life changing story with thousands of other children. This Easter had a different feel in the Middle East. It arrived amid pain and suffering, allowing people to empathize with what Jesus endured before His crucifixion. In times when we are consumed by anger towards life’s injustices, we find ourselves standing at the cross of Jesus, asking: How did You endure all this pain while continuing to love and offer mercy and forgiveness?  

The love of Jesus, His death, and resurrection were the main messages shared in 20 churches in Lebanon, reaching 1,500 children, and 14 churches in Syria, reaching 2,795 children. Local churches took the initiative to organize Easter events for the children of their communities, extending the narrative from Jesus’ birth to His resurrection while emphasizing the true essence of Easter, and inviting children to receive Jesus into their hearts. Salt and Light, a ministry of Thimar – LSESD, seized the opportunity to engage with children following similar Christmas events last year (Blissful Little Ears). Their goal was to foster an environment where churches and ministries could reflect God’s love through meaningful activities like Bible stories, worship, games, and interactions. Thimar supported the churches with the traditional Lebanese sweets, ‘Maamoul’, chocolate eggs, and children’s booklets from Thimar’s publishing house, Dar Manhal al Hayat, which came as an encouragement for the churches and a sweet gift for the children.