Palestine (MNN) – What does it mean for someone who lives in conflict to serve those fleeing conflict? The answer points to the way Jesus’ love is freely given to those who believe in Him, only to be extended and given again. The Shepherd Society, a part of Bethlehem Bible College’s Community Outreach Center, lives into this truth.
The Shepherd Society
The Shepherd Society began 21 years ago to provide food and medical treatments to less fortunate families during the Intifada. Based in Bethlehem, an area known for conflict and closed off by a wall, this group is one of the main institutions providing help in the area. Here Palestinian Christians, a minority within a minority, answer the call to care for the widow and the orphan, to feed the hungry, and to share Christ.
In Bethlehem, the Shepherd Society’s medical program is the main medical program. However, the medical program is meeting only a fraction of their need. With the right funding, it could double the number of people it currently serves.
“This is our vision, to help anybody who knocks on our door…I want them to know that we care about every single person in this whole world,” says Sari Zeidan, Head of the Shepherd Society.
Living in Conflict, but Serving Those Fleeing it
The fourth program is refugee aid. Earlier this year the Shepherd Society and a group of volunteers traveled to neighboring El Malfrak, Jordan. Here the team offered encouragement, support, and hope to Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
“We visit them at their houses, through a church there, and we hear their stories,” Zeidan says.
“We tell them our stories. We give them food packages, and blankets or anything they need…One of the things that we share [is] the Bible…or at least we share some stories of the Bible that reflects similar situations of the refugees…For example, when Jesus went out from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and we talk about a lot of stories that reflect the patience, the passion that they need to survive.”
During outreach, the Shepherd Society invites refugees to church and offers to pray with them. However, Zeidan says most of the Syrian refugees the Shepherd Society encounters are Muslims. Muslims often mistake the Trinity as representing three Gods. The confusions offers believers a chance to explain how Christians worship one God and one God only.
Prayer is also different in Islam; Christians have the freedom to open their hearts to God at any time.
“They started to come…to pray with the people of Jordan and with us in the church. This is a success story and it’s a blessing to let them pray the way we pray,” Zeidan says.
An Unexpected Education
These outreaches also teach the volunteers, who are usually youth or students from the college, how to serve. The experience provides a stark contrast between self-focus and what it means to selflessly love and serve others.
“They learn through the stories that…the most important is to help these people who suffer and in a way that they believe that God is sending them or Jesus is sending them there, to learn about the world and what is happening in the world. This is so important for us and for them,” Zeidan explains.
Zeidan says this mindset of loving those who are suffering is a call from God. It is a faith which surrenders to God and is obedient even during trials.
Please, if you would, pray for the Shepherd Society’s multifaceted work. Pray for peace between Israel and Palestine, for the refugees in the region, and for God to supply the funds for the Shepherd Society work.
To learn more about the Shepherd Society and how to get involved, click here.
Header photo by Sander Crombach on Unsplash.