Summer course studies peace in the Holy Land

By April 11, 2024

Palestine (MNN) – Negotiations between Israel and Hamas show little progress towards a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages. Israel refuses to allow displaced residents to return to their homes, and Hamas will not release Israeli hostages until all its demands are met. Another difficulty is deciding how many Palestinian prisoners Israel will release in exchange for each Israeli hostage. Neither party takes responsibility for the ongoing stalemate. Learn more here.

Meanwhile, the war in Gaza has entered its sixth month. Just one hour away, the reports of death and destruction have taken a toll on Bethlehem. Andrew Bush with the Bethlehem Institute of Peace and Justice says the war weighs heavy on those in the West Bank even as they carry on with daily life.

More roads have recently reopened for travel between Bethlehem and Israel, including the main checkpoint to enter Jerusalem. Thousands of people could not go to their jobs for months and were out of work, leading to economic hardship. Palestinian businesses that depend on tourism have also struggled if not already closed.

Students in the BIPJ summer intensive course drink tea from a local vendor.

The Bethlehem Institute of Peace and Justice, a program of Bethlehem Bible College, has continued in its mission despite the challenges. In May, the institute will welcome students to visit and learn more about peace and justice in the Holy Land for its third annual summer intensive course.

“The Summer Intensive is a two-week residential program here in Bethlehem,” says Bush, “which allows students to interact with Palestinian peacemakers and Jewish Israeli peacemakers.”

The short program begins May 13 and can be taken for academic credit. Students stay in the guesthouse of Bethlehem Bible College. Each day starts with devotions and continues with lectures, discussions, and field studies.

The summer intensive will look a little different this year because of the region’s current dynamics. Read about the experience of students last summer here. Bush says, “We’ve had to make adjustments in our program, which includes visiting sites around the West Bank.”

Learn more about the course and apply by April 15 at

Resources to Grow Understanding and Unity

For those who are unable to travel to Bethlehem, the institute also offers online semester courses for credit and free lectures open to all. Even some churches have taken a five-session course available called “Apocalypse, Empire, and Palestine” by J. Nelson Kraybill.

The varied resources grow students’ understanding of Palestinians and modern Israel. “We feel it’s very important that Christians have a clearer picture of what’s going on here,” says Bush.

“Humanity needs to be rescued here. And people need to see each other as human beings.”

He encourages Christians to explore the institute’s resources and listen to other points of view with an open mind.

“When you dehumanize the other, you dehumanize yourself,” says Bush. “And so for the sake of Israel, for the sake of the Gazan people, for the sake of all Palestinians, we hope people will pray for this war to end.”


Photos used courtesy of the Bethlehem Institute of Peace and Justice.

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