Dozens gathered on June 11 for a gala evening celebrating the legacy of Rev. Alex Awad, author of books and articles about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, pioneer in the Palestinian evangelical church, founding father of The Shepherd Society and long time faculty member at BBC. The 35 years of work and dedication given by his wife Brenda Awad at the Development Office of Bethlehem Bible College were also honored in the event.
A live Palestinian band set the atmosphere as distinguished pastors, theologians, community leaders, and authorities gathered. The evening was conducted by the Dean of Students of the college, Shireen Hilal.
BBC President Jack Sara welcomed the guests and expressed his deep appreciation for the work and commitment of the Awads. Following the speech, the Media Department presented a short film that celebrated the work of the Awads in the college. In the short film, many of BBC’s staff and faculty were able to express their love and appreciation to the family.
The Awads have been members of the Bible College since 1979 when, at the request of then-president Bishara Awad, they both left their jobs in America to serve at the newly formed college in Bethlehem. ‘This phone call changed our lives forever,’ said Brenda Awad, recalling the event. Once he moved back to Palestine with his family, Rev. Alex Awad became a member of the teaching faculty of the College, the Dean of Students, as well as becoming a member of the Board of Directors. He initiated the work of Shepherd Society, the charitable arm of Bethlehem Bible College. Furthermore, he was the first one to come up with the idea of organizing ‘Christ at the Checkpoint,’ BBC’s successful conference that challenges Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine. The gala event saw current and former faculty, staff, and students of BBC laud him for all these things.
Dr. Bishara Awad and Dr. Salim Munayer and others gave brief reflections on time spent with the couple, noting how Brenda and Alex had courageously left a mark on the Christian church and their lives. President of the Board of Directors, Jonathan Kuttab, delivered a keynote address that honored the Awads as sometimes unseen key contributors to the development of the Bible College. The evening ended with an emotive farewell speech by Pastor Alex and Brenda in which they expressed their love for the College and their intention to be involved even after their retirement.
Pastor Nihad Salman prayed to close the evening, and BBC’s choir led by Akram Nassar sang ‘Our God is an Awesome God’ before the crowd dispersed.
Rev. Alex Awad is the author of Palestinian Memories; the Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People (Bethlehem Bible College, 2008) and Through the Eyes of the Victims (Bethlehem Bible College, 2001), a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of Palestinians. He has also written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in numerous newspapers and periodicals, including The United Methodist Reporter, The Mennonite, Baptist Peacemaker, New World Outlook, Christianity Today, and Christian Social Action.