On the western shore of the Sea of Galilee is a tranquil spot called Tabgha, widely accepted as the location for Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. Beyond the small parking lot, on the other side of a Byzantine church, Arab and Jewish teenagers attend a Christian camp. They sing, play guitars, and beat on drums, until they’re called together for a lesson on knowing God and making Him known.
It’s an idyllic scene, yet it all began from a bitter family dispute. “My father gave me land to build on,” remembered Anis Barhoum. “And my brother loved this piece of land.” When Anis began to build, he and his wife Nawal were met with a challenge from their family. After a time, Nawal felt that God wanted them to leave and give up their plans.
The Barhoums moved to an apartment, and for five years they waited. In her prayers, Nawal committed their future house to the Lord, while Anis would drink to excess, becoming more and more angry. They worked and saved for a new plot of land in Shefá-Amer. When the house was built, Nawal began hosting Bible studies for the neighborhood children. Anis stayed away, coming home only after everyone had left.
One Friday, the program went later than expected and Anis arrived home to find 70 children worshipping God. “I couldn’t go in. Something struck me and I cried.” He knew his tears were from the Lord, and he told his wife, “I am with you—do what you like.”
Their home became a place of hope, and what began 35 years ago with a children’s Bible study is now the House of Light, a ministry not just to young children, but to teens, adults—even prisoners and their children.
At the annual Tabgha camp, each teen receives the audio Bible and sermons on the In Touch Messenger. They use the devices while walking along the quiet pathways or sitting near the shore. These young people experience what it’s like to be one body, their love for one another showing the world that they belong to Christ. They grow together and are sent out together.
“When you promise the Lord something,” said Nawal, “you need to be open to what He shows you.” Her plan had been simple—maybe put up a few Scriptures in the house to let her faith be known. Never could she have imagined loving and serving so many children, with Anis by her side.
Photograph by Ben Rollins
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