Palestine (MNN) – Bethlehem Bible College is raising awareness about Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land while also offering a chance to see the place it calls home through its Ta’Shuf Tours.
Ta’Shuf, which means “come and see” in Arabic, was a response to numerous requests to see Bethlehem and the rest of the Holy Land through guided tours of Bethlehem Bible College’s faculty and speakers. It is also a chance for Bethlehem Bible College to introduce visitors to the living stones in the birthplace of Christ.
The Ta’Shuf Tours are open to anyone. Marianne Smith, the US Development Officer with Bethlehem Bible College, says the college has hosted people from the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Latin America.
“[We have] a couple of pilgrimage trips where people go to visit the sites of our faith and spend some time, meditative time there, reflecting on what happened at those places. We also have listed on the website “A Journey of Understanding” which is a journey that helps to present different people from both Israel and Palestine who are working in reconciliation ministries, kind of touch a little bit on the history of the conflict and where we go from there,” Smith explains.
Plus, each tour can be specialized to the unique needs of the visitors. Ta’Shuf Tours offers options for church groups, family tours, educational tours, school groups, and even individual tours. Each tour includes a visit to the college and usually a chance to speak with a faculty or staff member about the college’s work.
Learning Through Touring
Bethlehem Bible College’s main goal through the Ta’Shuf Tours is to raise awareness about the believers who live in the Holy Land. Typically, tours in the region are focused on the sights, while the Christians in the region are left out of the itinerary. Some visitors do not know Bethlehem Bible College exists. They do not know the 40-year-old seminary is currently preparing Christians for leadership in the region.
“Unfortunately, it’s a sad fact that Palestinian Christians often feel neglected or forgotten about by the rest of the world. And so, for people to come and actually request to see them, to meet them, to become more aware of the college, it’s tremendously encouraging to both faculty and staff and students of the college,” Smith says.
Meet the Locals
The Ta’Shuf Tours also offer a more localized perspective of the Holy Land. On typical tours through Bethlehem, visitors see some sites, are shuffled into a souvenir shop, and are often discouraged from exploring the city or talking with locals. In fact, it is often indicated the Palestinians in the area are dangerous. However, Smith (who is an American) disagrees with this underlying narrative.
“The reality of the situation is Bethlehem is one of the safest places on earth. I personally have never felt quite as safe anywhere else around the world as I do in Bethlehem. It’s a shame that people are being prohibited from meeting the Palestinian people, from getting to know that there are a substantial number of Christian Palestinians, and the interaction that could result from that,” Smith says.
Smith invites Ta’Shuf tourists to stay a night in Bethlehem, perhaps even at the college. They can walk around the streets, visit a local restaurant, get a feel for Bethlehem, talk with the locals, and experience the hospitality and the stories of the people.
“That in itself is worth taking a tour through Ta’Shuf Tours and then getting to know the college. [Get] to know the people at the college and other Christian believers…That’s the cherry on top,” Smith says.
Visit the Holy Land
Want to visit the Holy Land and experience it through the perspective of a local? Then contact Bethlehem Bible College and schedule time with Ta’Shuf Tours. Visit Ta’Shuf Tours’ Facebook page to read stories and see photographs from those who have already visited through Ta’Shuf Tours.
To learn more about the Ta’Shuf Tours or plan your next visit to “come and see” the Holy Land, click here!
Also, pray for Bethlehem Bible College and Palestinian Christians. Ask God to make their voices heard and for the global Church to come and learn from its Palestinian family.
Header photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College.