Planting Peace and Justice, One Tree at A Time

Mar 20, 2024

Have you ever planted a tree? In a world of environmental concerns, taking action can start here. With just the right tools and some know-how, you can make a tangible impact on your surroundings.But beyond merely improving the environment, there’s a deeper call—a call to stewardship. As we disciple youth holistically, it’s vital for them to understand that they are stewards over God’s creation. So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s start digging. 

Manara Youth Center teens can show you how. They experienced it firsthand. In collaboration with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) Eco Justice Unit, 40 teens from the center left the suburban labyrinth of Burj Hammoud on March 2 and went on a quest to plant trees in the Bekaa Valley. This forestation initiative, titled “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” sprang from a desire to mobilize youth to be agents of environmental care. So, while you’re out there planting your tree, remember you’re not alone. 

But let’s face it: our world is in trouble. And guess who’s bearing the brunt? Marginalized communities. Take Burj Hammoud, for example. Hazardous waste is a real issue, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

In response to this, Garen Yosolkanian of the MECC Eco-Justice Department shared:

Five years ago, we [at MECC] initiated a project on eco-justice within the church to empower local communities, particularly marginalized individuals, including youth, children, and women. […] So, today, this initiative brought together youth from Manara Youth Center, based in Northeast Burj Hammoud. These young people, representing diverse nationalities and grappling with various challenges, were taken from their urban environment to a natural setting to plant trees.

The day began in Terbol, also known as “Terre Belle” in French, meaning beautiful land. Here, youth got their hands dirty and planted fruit and olive trees at a monastery’s garden, naming it “The Garden of the Fruits of Hope.” Then, the youth embarked on their final destination in Ablah. Led by the National Educational Scouts of Lebanon, renowned for their tree-planting endeavors, they marched onward, ready to leave their mark on the land. Overall, it was a thrilling first-time experience for many, leaving them with a sense of accomplishment.

As the sun sets on the horizon, casting long shadows over the newly planted trees, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the hope in youth to effect positive change. All the while, we look unto Jesus, for only in His hands lies the promise of justice that flows like a river, and peace that prevails like a gentle breeze rustling through the leaves. So, let us join them in their quest, planting seeds of change together.