For The Kingdom of God Belongs to Such as These
The busiest man in the world stops everything he’s doing, just to talk to a little kid. Who would put down his smart phone, simply to hold a small child? Who would drop everything to take the time to talk to a little one? Very few of us! But the Creator of the universe did that: “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
“The Lord opened my eyes to the ministry of children and the importance of it, through the strong story in Luke 18. I never felt that my heart was with young children; I always felt that I wanted to serve among youth. But He is the Lord of surprises, and He changed everything by a word from His mouth.”
Meet Tony Samaan and his wife Mary; a couple who followed the Lord’s voice and started a children’s theatre called “Mr. Okay.” Why is it called Mr. Okay? Who is Mr. Okay? What does this ministry do among children? What is the vision of this ministry? I was greatly encouraged by the answers to these questions in the following interview:
Who is Mr Okay?
Tony: It’s me! I’m a clown named Mr. Okay; beloved of the children. The main reason I chose this name was Jesus Christ, because as the Apostle Paul says: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ’Yes’ in Christ! Yes and Okay in Christ alone!”
Our group is comprised of seven people. I am the main character, with a supporting cast of six other members. It depends on what play we are enacting, as to how many are involved in each performance. The group includes my wife Mary, who organizes the show’s times and dates with the schools and churches.
What is Mr. Okay’s vision?
Our vision is to remind ourselves of the value of children, just like Jesus Christ did. He loved and accepted them. All the things we do are aimed at achieving this vision and seeing it become a reality.
Basically, we focus on the marginalized groups of children, such as the SOS Children’s Village (for orphans and other children without proper care) and the Bedouins. These are the most marginalized groups we work with. We visit the Bedouins once a month and we do shows for the children there, and it breaks our heart every time. They are very poor people with no electricity, no homes … nothing! They are living in very basic tents. Every time we are there, the Lord reminds me of this. He says, “Tony, I will make something from the marginalized people who are nothing. These are the people I chose to know the message of salvation and take it to the nations!”
What kind of messages do you share?
Not all of the shows have an explicitly Christian message, but all of them are inspiring. We enter the schools, especially the public schools, with a series of shows about different topics the kids need to know about; such as cleanliness, giving thanks and speaking out what’s in their hearts. And these series are like a bridge for us so we can give the most important message, which is Jesus Christ. Whenever we tell the school that we have a Christian message to share, they already know us and our work so they accept us with an open heart!
Our next performance is going to proclaim the strongest message that the world needs: a message to accept one another, despite our differences, and to love and respect each other. If we plant those values in a child’s heart, he or she will never grow up to be an extremist.
Where do you present your shows?
All over Palestine; we even perform in the smallest and poorest Palestinian villages.
Tell us about the magical touch of Bethlehem Bible College
We are both graduates from BBC; it’s the place we met, prayed and grew in our faith together. The College gave us a strong start. It charged us with faith and the Word of God, and taught us that we were sent to serve the world.
We have a dream of having a special place for a theater; one that will be known in the community as the center of Mr. Okay’s theater. We envision having a full-time group working in this ministry. Basically, we want to be able to train other people to be in the field of children’s ministry.
What is your message to the world?
It is the same message that started everything. Remember in the story, when the children showed up, Jesus stopped everything and spent time with them. He demonstrated how He wants the little children to be treated. This message should reach the churches and ministry organizations; they need to understand that children are not a secondary thing, but that they must be our priority. They are the future generation and whatever you plant in their hearts now, you will harvest later on. Teach them the Word of God. Teach them to love Him and you will harvest a generation of faithful servants!
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.