On a humid summer morning, 34 teenagers from all over Lebanon descended on the campus of the Middle East University for the second annual, three-day science camp held from July 18-20. Before the camp, a health expo was organized by the Middle East University (MEU) an Adventist university in Lebanon, at the Bouchrieh Adventist Secondary School just down the hill from MEU. The 6-station health expo was run by a group of energetic 11th and 12th graders.
The camp was officially opened by Rick McEdward, president of the Adventist Church in the Middle East and North Africa and chairman of the MEU board.
“After graduating from high school, I washed dishes and cleaned toilets, among other jobs, to pay for university,” McEdward told the teenagers, “and if you ask me to scrub a toilet again today, I won’t mind.”
He emphasized the importance of those experiences to keep you humble and to be willing to serve others in any role in life, even if it means doing something you don’t like. McEdward shared how this experience motivated him to complete university and follow his calling which has led him around the world in ministry.
In preparation for the community health expo, everyone learned how to take blood pressure, test blood sugar, illustrate the food pyramid at a nutrition booth, and talk about the importance of Adventist health principles such as sunlight and exercise.
More than 50 people went through the expo, most of them brought in by the enthusiastic teenagers standing by the road handing flyers through open car windows and to curious passersby.
From an 18-year old Bangladeshi woman to an 86-year old Lebanese man, from mothers with young children and bags of groceries in tow, to a well-dressed Nigerian charismatic evangelist, people from all different walks of life came to the health expo.
One woman stood in front of the registration station at a health expo, curious as to why teens were there. The two Lebanese teens, Myriam and Perla, sat behind a white plastic table next to an inviting welcome banner.
“We want to help the community and we want to help you,” was Myriam’s easy reply as she took the woman’s information and Perla directed her to the nutrition booth.
Visitors were able to address specific health issues with the Middle East and North Africa Union nurses Lorelle Boutros and Marcia McEdward and a volunteer community physician, Dr. Khodor Hassan.
At the final booth, which focused on trust, a pastor and MEU theology students counseled and prayed with attendees.
The science camp participants were fascinated by the experience and the teenagers left expressing a wish for the camp to be longer so they can help more people.
“What is the difference between Middle East University and any other university?” asked George Jackson, Dean of Arts & Sciences at MEU. “We believe in service. We believe in reaching out to the community and meeting their physical and spiritual needs. You can go anywhere and get a degree but at MEU, you’re serving others and that is changing not only their lives but your own.”