By Flora Alqassis
It has always been on our hearts to serve the Lord together as a family, and not just to live our lives day by day with no goal or purpose. That is why we chose this Master’s program, despite the fact that we really didn’t have enough spare time.
We thought of taking this course because we like the subject and we hope that it opens a door for us to serve the Lord in the future. I, Johnny, supervise two computer labs in the Computer Information Systems Department in Bethlehem University, and my wife, Shoaa, teaches the Arabic language to different stages in the Jerusalem School in Beit Hanina, but we feel that we are called for more than simply doing this. It’s a sense of calling for a mission that satisfies a deeper meaning in our life.
Although our time never seemed sufficient, even before enrolling for the Master’s, we realized that at some point, everyone wants to proceed in life—either on a professional, physical or spiritual level. Thus, we felt the need to add something more to our everyday lives. Both of us feel a spiritual desire and a responsibility towards serving God. We don’t actually know what to do and what way we can achieve that, but we believe that as we take a step forward into the unknown, it will unveil things on God’s heart for us.
We started a prayer group more than a year ago, and we would really like to see it grow. The Christian Ministry and Leadership program is preparing us and giving us insight for such a ministry. We hope that we grow in insight as we move forward in the courses.On the ministry level, the spiritual formation of the leadership course is a great help. However, we naturally look forward to the upcoming courses to push us hard into living a meaningful life and making a difference on all levels.
Are we able to create a balance between all of our duties as parents, students and employees? This is a tough question. Balancing these areas is a real challenge, especially since we are doing the MA together. We try to do our study after putting our kids to bed; but often this period of time is not sufficient. By that point in the day, we are exhausted and limited in our intellectual resources. Another option is taking turns: one of us will have a study retreat while the other stays with the kids. In this way, we can have quality time in for both our children and studies. These opportunities are rare, however!
Despite the challenges, we have handed this issue to Him, depending on Him and waiting for His clear purpose. Of course, our desire is neither material nor professional, but it is to serve the Lord and achieve His will in our lives.
The Christian Leadership & Ministry MA program was launched in 2010, under the management of Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho. To date, there have been two graduating classes (every two years) with a total of 15 students per class. The graduates include pastors, directors of churches, heads of departments, school principals, ministers in different Christian organizations, church elders, school teachers, youth leaders and church servants.
The program is being managed now by Carlos Zelfo; an alumni of the first class who graduated along with his wife Jane. The current third class includes 16 students from different backgrounds. All of us are willing to use the skills and knowledge that we will obtain during the courses in order to continue our ministry in the community. The courses are being taught in Arabic with the goal of communicating especially with the Palestinian community.