“JESUS TURNS ASHES TO BEAUTY”: COMFORTING BEIRUT’S CHILDREN
As the shock of the Beirut explosion sinks in, SAT-7 KIDS provides a safe place for children to express their emotions. On Allo Marianne, children in Lebanon call in live while a children’s mental health coach guides them on how to cope and their peers from across the Middle East and North Africa lift them up in prayer.
“My legs trembled after the explosion, and I couldn’t sleep until the next morning,” says a 12-year-old boy named Rayyan on Allo Marianne. Claritta, another young viewer, shares that she experienced stomach pains and sleep loss after she felt the impact of the explosion. “We heard the sound. It was very loud, and our car shook. I was worried about my brother who wasn’t with us, but we called him and found that he was safe,” she remembers.
As part of SAT-7 KIDS’ expert-informed strategy to help young viewers through this difficult time, the special live episode of the Lebanon-based program sees Presenter Marianne Awaraji Daou encourage children not to push their feelings down. “When we go through difficulties, it is normal to be sad,” she says. “We need to take time to express our feelings and not suppress them. We also need to pray and take all our feelings to Jesus, because He says, ‘Fear not, for I am with you,’ and He turns ashes to beauty.”
The episode also hosts child and youth mental health coach Sirine Daou, who guides viewers to work through their feelings by expressing themselves creatively.
“I went through difficult times of sadness, loneliness, and boredom as a child. So, I started expressing my emotions by drawing, putting all my negative feelings on canvas. This reminds me of the verse in the Bible that says God gives us ‘beauty instead of ashes’ [Isaiah 61:3]. He uses our talents, and the difficult times we go through, to create beauty,” she explains.
Children call in to pray for Lebanon
As well as from Lebanon, Allo Marianne and Bible Heroes, another SAT-7 KIDS live show, received many calls and messages from children across the region, including Algeria, Egypt, and the Holy Land, who showed their heart for their peers this week.
“I pray for Lebanon. Lord be with them and comfort them,” prays one young caller named Myriam. “Send peace to the world and lift the virus and every terrible thing. Protect us, comfort those who lost their loved ones, heal the injured, and give joy to the sad, for You know everything. Thank you, Lord.”
Meanwhile, on SAT-7 ACADEMY’s My School, teacher Grace Najjar also helped children express their feelings and comforted them during a Facebook Live language lesson that saw a larger than usual audience from Lebanon.
SAT-7 KIDS Channel Manager Andrea El-Mounayer explains that open communication is part of the channel’s strategy to support and guide children in the Middle East and North Africa following the event. “When the explosion happened, I consulted child psychologists on how to best support our young viewers,” she says. “They all advised that the explosion is not something that should be ‘swept under the carpet’ to protect children. Children all know what happened. They see it on the news, and they hear their parents talking about it. So, we should talk about it openly with the children and help them through it.”
Urgent prayer need
Will you join young SAT-7 KIDS viewers in praying for children in Beirut?
Around 1,000 children were injured by the blast. An estimated 100,000 have been made homeless, while many more are struggling with the mental health implications of witnessing the devastation. (Sources: UNICEF, Save the Children)
- Pray that God’s peace, which passes all understanding, will fill the hearts of children affected by the explosion. Pray that SAT-7 KIDS viewers will find hope and solace through these programs.
- Pray also for parents, as they deal with material need and the impact on their own mental health while also supporting their children.
- Pray for provision of housing, food, and medical care, and for a return to a sense of normalcy as soon as possible.