Posts tagged Palestine
Musalaha - August 2019 Update

Musalaha’s summer camp in Bethlehem: Is it about serving 85 children with 20 volunteers and 7 interns in 6 days? Is it having fun, playing games, making new friends, and enjoying summer? Sure. But what makes a difference in the lives of the participants that lasts more than a few days?

That’s Musalaha’s intention: Planting seeds of RECONCILIATION between the participating children – half of them Muslim, half of them Christian – and teaching them the golden rule “…do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Seeds of bearing “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22:23). These two themes were the topics we planned this year’s camp activities around – that was the well-prepared plan for the group of kids with diverse backgrounds, coming from different areas around Bethlehem.

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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.

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Palestinian Bible Society - June 2019 Update

The Palestinian Bible Society (PBS) is a national office of the UBS (United Bible Societies) with its office in Jerusalem. The work was started in the Holy Land in 1816 and is still going on to this date. The work among the Palestinians was established in 1993. It is an inter-confessional Christian society committed to making the Word of God available to the Palestinians and has a strong vision for inviting Muslims to trust in and follow Jesus. We recently received news from PBS:

Trauma Healing Workshop
The Palestinian Bible Society staff led a trauma healing workshop in Ramallah at the end of May. The sixteen participants are now in small groups to implement what they learned.

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Bethlehem Bible College - April 2019 Update

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Bethlehem Bible College (BBC). They recently shared the following stories about their ministry and involvement in the local community in God’s mission in the world.

After the resurrection, Jesus met his disciples in Galilee where he gave them the Great Commission “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ...” Matthew 28:16-20

The classic cross, pictured here, is seen throughout the Holy Land and is known as the Jerusalem cross. It is made from locally sourced olive wood and crafted by artisans in the Bethlehem area.

The shape of the cross has a deep historical and spiritual significance. The large cross represents Jesus. The four smaller ones represent the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – going out to the four corners of the world.

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Musalaha - January 2019 Update

As part of promoting reconciliation in the community, we conducted a joint Christmas training for our women's groups from Bethlehem and Aboud, emphasizing the value of giving. The weekend focused on sharing our love and message of reconciliation with children who have physical and psychological needs, many of whom would not be able to spend the holidays with their families. The women prepared gift baskets and gave them to neighbors in need as part of learning to celebrate Christmas through giving, love, and reconciliation.

University students are hard to pin down. For many, their energies are devoted to their studies. They are at the mercy of rigorous course and exam schedules and have too much to do with their limited time.

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Bethlehem Bible College - April 2018 Update

In February of this year, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was temporarily closed by Jerusalem’s Christian leaders in protest of a new taxation imposed upon the Christian institutions by the city of Jerusalem. This was an unexpected break in the status quo going back to the Ottoman era which had previously granted tax-free status to the city’s religious institutions. The shocking announcement included a century of back taxes, totaling almost $200 million; an expense that would have forced many ministries out of the land. Some leaders felt this imposition was a way to continue to weaken the presence of Christians in the city. In protest, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of Jerusalem’s most-visited sites was closed.

Because this event took place about a month before Easter, there were worries that the church would remain shut during our holiest season. Thankfully, after three days of closure the situation was at least temporarily resolved, and the doors of one of the world’s oldest churches were swung back open.

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Palestinian Bible Society - March 2018 Update

The Palestinian Bible Society held its fourth annual Bible Day in Bethlehem on October 20. Entitled “Let the Children Come to Me,” this year’s Bible Day focused on getting the message of the Bible into children’s lives and hearts. Nearly 1,000 children from all around the land took part, along with group leaders, parents, and church leaders from all denominations. Songs, videos, crafts, outdoor games, puppets, and a live drama engaged everyone with the message in fun ways throughout the day. At the end, each child received a gift bag with a children’s Bible and a USB drive containing several versions of the Bible and audio Bible stories.

The event was broadcast live on Palestine TV and on the Radio Mawwal Facebook page. The next day, Director Nashat Filmon was interviewed on national TV and radio and received calls from Gaza residents who had seen the live broadcast.

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Musalaha - February 2018 Update

Light in the Darkness

On a rainy afternoon in Jerusalem, fifty-seven women arrive at Tantur Ecumenical Institute seeking reconciliation against the odds. Despite common faith in Jesus, the group is far from ordinary – composed of Palestinian Israelis, Jewish Israelis, and Palestinian women living in the Palestinian Authority.

Recent political activity tried to exacerbate the distance between these communities; so, everyone who walks through the door is performing an act of courage, vulnerability, and gentle defiance against stereotypes. Still, each person carries a unique set of expectations or doubts.

In the first session rather than focusing explicitly on the theological rhetoric and the wounds and fears that have historically served to dichotomize these communities, the staff brought our focus to relationship building. The group is broken into smaller circles, and we engage in a game: each person is given a different colored slip of paper.

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Bethlehem Bible College - November 2017 Update

Dear friends,

Greetings from Bethlehem Bible College! I hope you are well and prospering in all that our Lord has called you to do.  

As we approach the end of 2017, we look back over the year to evaluate how we have managed what the Lord has given into our hands and to look forward to planning how we can best follow in his footsteps in the future. We are happy to share the success of our college programs. We have students studying for their BA degree in Biblical Studies and Christian Education, for their MA degree in Christian Leadership and Ministry, and for their diploma in Tour Guiding and Mass Media. 

God has opened yet another door for us at Bethlehem Bible College – our Online Diploma Program in Biblical Studies has attracted students from around the world! Refugees from Syria and Iraq, Palestinians living abroad, and others from the very heart of the Muslim world study together in this interactive program.

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Musalaha - October/November 2017 Update

Musalaha has been increasingly active in bridge-building between Christians and Muslims in Palestinian communities, applying the same principles used in reconciliation work between Israeli and Palestinian believers. Through these initiatives, we have introduced Musalaha's curriculum to Muslim communities and have been learning how we can use our knowledge and experience to ease some of the tensions between Christians and Muslims. This pressure is mainly caused by historical prejudice, stereotypes, and politics, and has increased dramatically in recent years.

When one of our Palestinian staff members was asked to put a committee of young leaders together to discuss activities and reconciliation work between the communities, she quickly found fellow Christians ready to join the cause. Reaching out to Muslim leaders, however, turned out to be much more difficult. This wasn't because they were not interested; she just didn’t know any on a personal level, even though she lives in a mixed neighborhood.

This skepticism towards the other community has many reasons, most of which go back to religious stereotypes, fear of the unknown and even racism. As humans, our opinion of the other tends to be based on what we think we know about their culture or religion before we have our own experience with individuals of that group. We also tend to judge other people based on the extreme manifestations of their culture and religion, rather than considering nuance and individual faith and experience.

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Bethlehem Bible College - May 2017 Update

An invitation to the Bethlehem Bible College Conference
Christ and the Checkpoint: Jesus at the Center
May 28 – June 1, 2018

We believe that theology and religion are important and continue to shape how people around the world view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is a lot of fear and rejection of the "other" and the commandments of Jesus are cast aside. Our goal is to return to the basics of our faith and bring Jesus back to the center when it comes to kingdom and end-time theology, Christian advocacy for peace that is rooted in justice, and our mission to our neighbor. 

Bethlehem Bible College invites you to the fifth "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference in Bethlehem from May 28-June 1, 2018. The conference hopes to follow the success of the first four conferences. The theme of this conference will be "Christ at the Checkpoint 5: Jesus at the Center." 

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Bethlehem Bible College - March 2017 Update

I was a stranger and you did not take me in, I was naked and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit me.   Matthew 25: 43

Dear friends of Bethlehem Bible College, 

What we do for one, we do as if we are serving Jesus. This was the mentality of a group of BBC staff who visited the governmental hospital in Bethlehem to spend time with patients in need of dialysis. The staff spent time sitting, talking and laughing alongside those that were undergoing treatment.

This BBC group was the first to visit the dialysis section in the hospital. It was a big room with around twenty-two patients that undergo the process three times a week for five hours each time. In the Bethlehem area alone, there are one hundred patients including children.

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Bethlehem Bible College - November 2016 Update

Dear friends of Bethlehem Bible College, 

We trust that the end of the year is wrapping up well for you! As the year 2016 comes to an end, we reflect on where we have come from but also plan for where we are headed. The past year has been full of amazing opportunities for BBC to reach out to our community through our students and staff, our faculty and those that partner with us from abroad or by coming and volunteering locally. Our hope and focus is that what is taught and modeled here at BBC will extend beyond the classroom, and that our students will be ambassadors to whatever workplace or ministry they work in on behalf of the kingdom of God.  

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Palestinian Bible Society - November 2016 Update

This is the third year that the Palestinian Bible Society carried out one of its biggest programs known as the Bible Day Event. The emphasis this year was on Palestinian youth and the role of the Bible in their lives. The event took place at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah with over 1,000 people attending! “So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” was the title of this special and long anticipated conference, with a focus on three main issues: love God and his word, love your neighbor, and love your country and citizenship. The conference attracted more than 1,000 youth from Palestinian cities ranging from Jenin in the north all the way to Bethlehem in the south. 

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Musalaha - A Ministry of Reconciliation - May 2016 Update

Do you like having fun with kids? I do. I love seeing the wonder on children's faces when they encounter something for the first time. One of my favorite recollections of wonder as a child was when I first saw oil poured into water. I kept trying to stir the solution faster and faster to see if the oil would dissolve, yet every time, the little bubbles of oil would push through the water to remerge in its previous state, a layer of oil. You just can't mix oil and water. Many times the same is true of Jews and Arabs, and even Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians. We don't mix. I am not saying that we don't attend each other's congregations or pray together at conferences. Of course we do. But we don't let our guard down, talk about the tough questions and bring each other into our lives. 

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Musalaha-A Ministry of Reconciliation-November 2015 Update

Musalaha’s Spring Youth Desert Encounter achieved another year of taking 30 Palestinian and Israeli teenagers and youth leaders to the desert as they embarked on a reconciliation journey. Few from this equally mixed group of guys and girls were acquainted with each other before boarding the bus, yet by the time we reached Chai Bar resort, where we were staying the first night, this group of youth were carelessly chattering away. It was clear to me that some of the girls regarded the prospect of spending three nights under the stars on desert dunes and going four days without a shower with apprehension, but that adolescent burst of energy was not lacking. The eight counselors were also not short on energy as many of them had participated as youths. It was so exciting to see a new generation of leaders coming up through Musalaha’s programs.

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Musalaha-A Ministry of Reconciliation - June 2014 Update

Dear Friends, 

Musalaha’s Israeli-Palestinian Children’s Summer Camp is designed to provide a framework for Israeli and Palestinian children to meet together in a fun and friendly atmosphere. Here they have the opportunity to build relationships with children from the other side who they might not have the chance to meet and learn to counter many stereotypes.

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