By AmiRa Farhoud
Perhaps you remember a story we shared last fall about Yousef and Merna Al-Khouries, (http://www.bethbc.org/news/al-khouries-story-war-love-and-promise). Their lives are a testimony to a promise that came true. They have dreamed and prayed together and God has opened doors for them. Our Yousef is very much like the biblical Joseph: “the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man.” From Gaza to the United States, God has been with him and showed His faithfulness every step of the way. Yousef is now studying for a Master’s of Divinity with concentration in Missions at Nyack Christian College, the Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York. He and his wife Merna are living on campus, in a small cozy apartment about 2 miles away from the Seminary and 30 miles north of New York City.
Life in the United States
“We were amazed of the amount of genuine freedom that we are experiencing in the US. We are able to drive miles without checkpoints or any restriction.” In addition to the freedom of the US, they are very much enjoying the diversity in the city they live in. “When you walk around you will meet people from different ethnic background and different religions, and they are very friendly!” This diversity is also a notable feature at the seminary, which is filled with students from many parts of the world, including South Korea, China, Vietnam, France and Palestine.
University and Studies
Academically Yousef had four courses in the first semester and is currently taking another four. He says that the balance between spiritual passion and intellectual integrity is wonderful. He has found the instructors to be very understanding of his and the other students’ concerns and questions. In addition to their attention for academic progress, the professors pay equal attention to the students’ spiritual growth and emphasize how their teaching are applicable to their personal lives and ministry. “They also provide us with tools that enable us to read the Bible from different perspective and challenge us to think more deeply.”
The Seminary’s professors and administrators are significantly collaborative and supportive. It is obvious that their main concern is the student; individually, spiritually, emotionally and academically. “As a foreign student who is married, they allow my wife to join and audit some classes. They also offer us individual and couples counseling sessions.”
“Being in the U.S. has allowed us to experience God in miraculous and profound ways.” Though they have been through challenges adjusting to a new culture, they have seen the Lord in them. “We believe that we live in a miracle, we see God’s hand every day.” One of the miracles that God provided them was a car. For two and a half months, they walked to their classes. When a Christian brother was looking to give his daughter’s old car away, he remembered Yousef and Merna’s need and gave them the car. “…And still we are experiencing God’s blessings every day!”
The Church they attend currently is part of the ministry of the Missionary Alliance. In a large American church, they are experiencing worship and ministry in a very different way from what they were used to including the number of services, and the concentration of sermons!
Merna is enjoying some classes with Yousef. She is also attending an English class five days a week. Recently, she passed her 2nd level final exam and now she attends 3rd level classes. Her first two months were difficult because she had stomach problems due to the change in water and food. Now she is doing much better and adjusting very well.
Returning to Palestine
“We are looking forward to go back to Palestine after we finish our training. We want to serve our people and the Palestinian church. We pray to the Lord to use us as labors for the expansion of His Kingdom: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2). “We believe that the Lord has a great plan for Palestinians and His heart is to reveal His love to them. Therefore, we believe our role is to witness to his love and to be a living example of Christ in his land.”