Israel/Palestine (MNN) — In Israel, Palestinian Christians are often forgotten by the world. Instead, eyes are usually focused on the feuds between majority Jews and Muslims. But Christians are present and they need training. That’s why Bethlehem Bible College exists.
History of Bethlehem Bible College
The dream of Bethlehem Bible College was first brought to fruition in 1979 in Bethlehem. The ministry originally focused on training Palestinians to serve the Church in Palestine and Israel. Over time, the ministry grew into a college and now offers degrees ranging from a two-year diploma all the way up to a master’s degree. And these degrees specifically cater to Christians in the region.
“Bethlehem Bible College…is now of a global ministry, since it’s reaching out to many Arabs around the globe. Specifically, those who are from closed countries, or those that have no access to seminaries,” Bethlehem Bible College’s President Jack Sara shares.
Prior to his role as Bethlehem Bible College’s President, Sara served as the senior pastor with Alliance Church in the Holy Land. He also served with a church planting movement connected to the “Christian and Missionary Alliance.”
Currently, Bethlehem Bible College’s main campus is still located in Bethlehem, with extensions in Nazareth and Gaza. Plus, the school has its online degrees and satellite campuses within churches.
“We have put our programs online so that [people] will be trained to do the work of the kingdom, and at the same time lead churches or plant churches wherever they are,” Sara explains.
More Than an Education
With that said, Bethlehem Bible College works as an umbrella ministry. Bethlehem Bible College also has ministries for serving the community, doing community development and outreach, and working among refugees.
“We have an army of students who are ready to do all sorts of things within the community for service. So, we mobilize them and provide means, open doors, and establish venues where they would be serving the Lord within areas that we can feel that it’s touching the lives of people,” Sara explains.
“We all need Christ, but in Palestine, it’s the land of Christ, and that’s an issue and a problem, and I will say a challenge and a potential at the same time. The challenge is that this is the land of Christ where He was born, where He gave His life as a sacrifice on behalf of all the [world]. It’s the birthplace and the resurrection place, and the Holy Spirit place. And the Church, it started there. Yet, nowadays Christians don’t make up even 1.5 percent of the total population.”
Yet, despite being small in number, Sara says there’s a Christian presence in the region. Churches and Christian buildings are all over the place. But the fact remains, the number of people who believe in Christ is still dwindling, partly because of the inability to remain in the area. Bethlehem Bible College is creating degrees which help Christians create and earn jobs in the area so they can stay and influence their communities.
Challenges Facing Palestinian Christians
However, the ability to remain in a community isn’t the only problem Palestinian Christians face. As Sara says, Christianity never left Israel. And today, there are Muslims and Jews who continue to give their lives to Christ. But, damage is done when the global Church, particularly Christians in the United States, don’t realize they have brothers and sisters in this region who need their support.
“We are thriving. We are being used by God to build His kingdom…we would rather have them come beside us in terms of the work we’re doing,” Sara shares.
“This is the epicenter of a lot of things. So, when we talk about the epicenter, I would say [of] God’s history and salvation history. That means it’s really a place where Satan hates so much and there are a lot of spiritual forces that are attacking the people. Just think, that area never knew peace. That area had a lot of bloodshed. That area had a lot of, actually still, turmoil till now, no rest in the country.”
Be Prayerful, Be Active
So please, will you come alongside our brothers and sisters in Israel and Palestine by teaming up with Bethlehem Bible College? If the answer is “yes,” here are ways to come alongside the work Bethlehem Bible College is doing.
- Become aware of the fact Palestinian Christians exist and are living in Israel and Palestine alongside majority Jews and Muslims.
- Pray. Their prayer needs in this region are great. So please, pray for protection, wisdom to speak into people’s lives, and guidance for what to offer as a college. Pray for the needs of Bethlehem Bible College to be supplied by God through the giving of churches, individuals, and even foundations.
- Consider giving. Just like any ministry, Bethlehem Bible College needs financial support to keep serving. And that support comes from God’s people.
- Volunteer. Bethlehem Bible College is training workers. However, it also needs workers to serve the college as well. Will you consider serving?
- Finally, offer encouragement to our brothers and sisters who are faithfully serving their communities in Israel and Palestine, and the rest of the Arab world.
To get more information on Bethlehem Bible College’s degrees, click here.
Posted by Bethlehem Bible College on Friday, October 13, 2017