Steven Stanier and I have just returned from a trip to Beirut to visit the first expression of The Feast outside the UK. Our relationship with folk in Lebanon started at a conference in Beirut which led to the Istanbul exchanges in 2011 and 2012 between young people from the UK and Lebanon. Since then a group of youth workers in Beirut have been looking at how they could set up The Feast in their country. Sadly Lebanon is often only remembered for the civil war, which ended in 1990, and whilst there have been a number of peace building initiatives involving young people few have included faith discussions due to the complex nature of the situation.
We’re so excited that the model The Feast has developed, of helping young people to share their own story whilst also listening to the accounts of others, enables faith discussion without it becoming politicised or sectarian.
We were only in Beirut for 3 days but in that time managed to train the team of leaders and be part of a youth event involving Evangelical Christians, Maronite Christians and Sunni Muslims. The event took place in a sports centre and looked very much like an event run by The Feast here in the UK. They played lively team building games had a simple faith discussion (that led to some really good sharing of beliefs) and a meal at Burger King!
To be in a country that only 25 years ago was at war along religious divides, and to see young people now able to sit and share what the best thing about being a Christian or a Muslim is, was humbling and inspiring.
The group in Lebanon are going to meet every two weeks and are working in conditions very different to the UK so we have lots to learn from each other, as The Feast grows here in the UK and now overseas our hope is that we will become a family of movements inspiring, challenging and encouraging one another so that we can equip more and more young people to build friendships, explore faith and change lives wherever they are.