Bethlehem Bible College - June 2019 Update
Greetings on behalf of Bethlehem Bible College, dear friends!
Summer is upon us, and another academic year is nearly finished at Bethlehem Bible College (BBC). We give thanks for BBC’s 40 years of service to Bethlehem, Palestine and around the world.
Ongoing Journey of Faithfulness: Overcoming the Challenges!
Was it easy to start a Bible college from scratch, and build it to be one of the most important Christian educational institutions in the region? What kind of challenges have we faced? How did we manage to overcome them? We endured two Intifadas, several wars on Gaza, lack of money, increasing emigration, and much more. How did we survive? “He was faithful,” answered Dr. Bishara Awad, founder of Bethlehem Bible College.
Challenges at the Beginning
With his calm face, wrinkles of wisdom and deep eyes, Dr. Bishara recalled our beginning, and the challenges we faced back then:
“Before we started the college, I spoke with church leaders in the area. I shared with them my idea of starting a seminary, and we created a board of trustees with representatives from all the churches in Bethlehem. However, we still faced a big challenge in convincing the community. It took us a while to prove that we teach the right Christian beliefs.”
He added: “When we started BBC in 1979, our biggest challenge was to find good, qualified teachers, especially Arab teachers who have theology degrees. We couldn’t find any, so we asked for help from the missionaries in town to teach our students, and they happily agreed, asking nothing in return.”
“Another one of the challenges the college faced in its beginning was deciding whether we are a theological school or a biblical one. It was decided that we are a Bible school and the reason was that we didn’t want to teach a specific theology, but we wanted to be a non-denominational college for all churches and believers.”
Dr. Bishara mentioned another challenge the college faced, which was the emigration of the Palestinian Christians. “There was a time when students used to go to the United States to study and they never came back. Our biggest accomplishment is that 90% of our graduates are still living and serving in Palestine.”
Due to BBC’s location in Palestine, the unstable political situation was a huge challenge. The question for us as Christian believers was what could we do in such a situation in addition to praying?
The college faced two uprisings (intifadas) – the First Intifada, 1987-1993, and the Second, 2000-2005. Dr. Bishara remembered this time: “In the First Intifada, The Israeli military arrested some of our students and faculty. There was a curfew and we didn’t know what to do regarding holding classes, so we used the facilities of a monastery in Jerusalem called Tantur for six months. When the Israeli military found out, they asked the administration of the monastery to stop accepting our students. The administration refused and said, “We accept students from all over the world! Why should we stop accepting Palestinians?”
Everyone at the college remembers the Second Intifada in detail. During that time, we lost a lot of our international faculty. It was very dangerous, and the leadership asked them to leave for their own safety. Dr. Bishara said that the college was in danger of closing during that time because the situation was really bad, but we carried on even in the midst of hardship.
Financial challenges were never a big concern for Dr. Bishara: “God provided in miraculous ways every time. In the beginning, we moved a lot from one place to another. We needed money for that, but we always believed that the college was for the Lord, and he would provide for all our needs.”
Dr. Bishara finished with pride in his eyes: “I thank God for Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, the current president of BBC, for accepting the position of leadership and for working so hard for the college. My message for him is to keep going; keep doing what we always did by trusting the Lord to provide the college’s needs, and keep being salt and light for the whole community.”
The college faced many challenges, but we stood together hand in hand with the same heart and spirit, trusting the Lord and our leadership. Here we are. We are strong. We are impacting the community, and we are sending Christian leaders to the world!
Political, financial and social challenges are still here. The circumstances haven’t changed much. We’re still facing difficulties, but we have faced them for 40 years and have overcome them. With God by our side, we can do it again.
Rev. Dr. Jack Sara
President of Bethlehem Bible College
The Outreach Foundation is very grateful for your gifts that make it possible for us to support Bethlehem Bible College. Your generosity combined with others from all around the world has made an incredible difference in helping Bethlehem Bible College overcome challenges. You are a vital friend on this journey, so let’s keep moving!
Read more about Bethlehem Bible College HERE.
The Outreach Foundation is seeking $2,000 per month to support the mission and ministry of Bethlehem Bible College. Make a gift HERE or by mailing a check to our office.