Palestine (MNN) — Today is Giving Tuesday, a significant day of the year for organized giving. Many people take the opportunity to give to charities and other organizations they support to kick off the giving season.
Since Christmas is barely a month away, many spiritual reflections are centered around Bethlehem, the place of Jesus’ birth. So why not give to Bethlehem Bible College to support their work in the Holy Land?
“Our donations on Giving Tuesday are channeled into our scholarship fund. At Bethlehem Bible College, the economic situation surrounding the college is very poor, very weak. And so, our students are generally not able to pay the tuition that it would cost them if we actually charged full tuition for them. So, they pay approximately 10 percent of the cost of going to school at Bethlehem Bible College and then we raise the additional 90 percent,” Bethlehem Bible College’s Marianne Smith says.
Giving Tuesday: An Opportunity
Bethlehem Bible College’s goal is to help students stay in Palestine with the option of furthering their education. Many students choose to leave Bethlehem rather than to stay and endure the ongoing conflict and daily challenges. Students find that it is easier to study abroad. They also discover that life as an expat has its advantages, too. For this reason, many do not return to Palestine.
For the ones who do return, they face challenges in traveling home. Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not allowed to use Israeli airports or build their own. This has forced Palestinian travelers from the West Bank to travel to Amman, Jordan to fly in and out of the region. However, this tags on another day of travel (one way) with security checks at the border for both Israel and Jordan and the numerous checkpoints on the road.
For those Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, they do not have travel permits. They are stuck. Therefore, Bethlehem Bible College’s Gaza-based students study through the college’s online program.
“The goal of the college is to…raise up leaders [in Bethlehem] for the Church and society from among the Palestinian people by keeping them in the land,” Smith says.
A Knife’s Edge for the Gospel
The Holy Land’s population primarily consists of people identifying as Jewish or Muslim. Christians are in the minority.
If minority Palestinian Christians are unable to get their education where they reside, who will be left to live out the Gospel in the birthplace of Jesus?
“It seems inconceivable to us, but the possibility of a Bethlehem without a significant Christian presence is possible. That could happen in the near future. The economic situation that is faced by Palestinians — both Christian and Muslim — is extremely difficult,” Smith describes.
“The ongoing pressure that they live in because of the conflict, it’s a choice that they have to make. It’s a sacrifice, actually, that they make to stay in their homeland…. But we want that Christian presence to remain. Bethlehem Bible College is more than just a lighthouse. I’d say it’s almost like an anchor or the glue that holds the society in place.”
Will you give to Bethlehem Bible College this Giving Tuesday?
Get Involved This Giving Tuesday
For the duration of Giving Tuesday, Bethlehem Bible College will be accepting* financial gifts through the United Methodist Church. Bethlehem Bible College is not associated with the United Methodist Church. However, the church has offered to absorb the three percent transaction fee. This means Bethlehem Bible College will receive the full amount of its Giving Tuesday donations.
To give, click here!
Will you also pray? Pray for Bethlehem Bible College to raise the necessary funds to cover 90 percent of their students’ attendance costs. Bethlehem Bible College enrolls between 150-200 students a year. Also, pray for more students to enroll both in the on-campus program and the online program.
Pray for peace in Palestine and for Christ to be known in the Holy Land. Pray for the Gospel to be lived out in such a way that people ask, “What’s different about Palestinian Christians?” Ask God to open doors for relationships where Christ can be shared.
Header photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College.
*Bethlehem Bible College will still be accepting financial gifts through its donations page at bethbc.edu.