Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac ministers at a church in Hong Kong
“But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
What can a small Christian college on the West Bank accomplish? Surrounded by majority groups, we, as Evangelicals, are a minority even amongst the tiny Christian minority of 1.5 % of the population. We hold virtually no political power. Most of our brothers and sisters have departed these lands, due to the tumultuous political situation and depressed economy on the West Bank. Despite these challenges, Palestinian Christians are making an impact around the world; an impact that is proportionally very high, when compared to our numbers.
From the far east of Hong Kong to the American Midwest and from seminaries to churches, the faculty of Bethlehem Bible College is frequently found overseas, sharing what the Lord is doing in our homeland and speaking about the three-fold mission of BBC: to train people to serve Christ in the world, to advocate a Palestinian evangelical perspective, and model Christ through community development.
Following is a brief summary of where some of us have been so far this year:
In January, Munther Isaac and Messianic believer Richard Harvey, were co-chairs of a historic gathering of Israeli Jewish and Palestinian believers in Cyprus. Through the Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine (LIRIP), they crafted the “Larnaca Statement.” Several others who are a part of BBC also participated in the leadership of the conference, including Salim Munayer. Read more here: https://www.lausanne.org/about/blog/introducing-the-larnaca-statement
That same month, Salim Munayer travelled to England, where he was a keynote speaker at the Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam 2016 conference. Salim spoke on Israel-Palestinian and the Clash of Domination, as well as creating a culture of encounter with the Muslim world.
During the chilly month of February, many of our faculty traveled to even chillier lands: Jack Sara to Canada, where he was one of the main speakers at Missions fest Manitoba 2016 conference with the theme “Advancing the Gospel in the Face of Conflict.” He taught about the situation in the Middle East in general and particularly Christians in Palestine, while also challenging the attendees to “go, support, and pray!”
Meanwhile, Michael Arteen and Grace Zoughbi travelled to Sweden, where Grace gave a presentation with Södra Vätterbygdens Folkhögskola and the Study Association Bilda. Her message was entitled “Let Justice Roll On” in which she highlighted the situation of the Palestinian Christians and how we need to understand justice from a biblical perspective. Grace and Michael also had the opportunity to share about the work of BBC and the situation of Palestinian Christians at different churches and colleges in Jönköping.
At the same time, Salim Munayer was very busy in Asia where he was invited to speak at the Asian Theological Seminary’s 2016 Annual Theological Forum. His message was “What we have learned in the work of reconciliation from the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Later in the month, he went to Hong Kong, where he spoke in various churches and seminaries, including the Macau Bible Institute.
While some of our staff were in other parts of the world sharing about Christians in the Middle East, our own George Abdo led a trip of students and other volunteers on a special trip to minister to some of those very Christians–the Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan.
April was a very busy month for our leaders: Madleine Sara travelled to Spain to hold a special training intensive for women in ministry. The 14 women who attended the conference were from the Middle East and North Africa; including Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Iraq who were working mainly with the Syrian and the Iraqi refugees. These women were greatly encouraged by this special time of empowerment and we know they will carry the things they learned to many other refugee women.
And speaking of refugees, the Shepherd Society returned again to Jordan, this time to bless and encourage the Syrian refugees in Al-Mafraq.
During the same month, the Langham Hong Kong Foundation invited Munther Isaac to share on topics such as Theology of the Land; Responding to Religious Extremism; and How to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. During a whirlwind 8-day tour, Munther spoke in numerous churches, seminaries and fellowships. The trip was especially enjoyable for him, as he was able to bring his wife, Rudaina and two small sons along with him.
Jack Sara travelled to Omaha, Nebraska to speak at a large conference with Life Gate Church where he shared throughout the weekend before a congregation of several thousand people in different campuses, sharing a message entitled: When Hearts Get Broken, Everybody Wins.
In mid-April through early May, Michael Arteen and Grace Zoughbi went to the United States (Oregon) for 6 weeks to attend a training organized by the General Board of Global Ministries of the Methodist Church in preparation for Michael’s commissioning as a missionary to Bethlehem. (Congratulations, Michael)!
In May, Munther Isacc travelled to Germany to take part in The Global Forum of Theological Educators (GFTE). This inaugural conference brought together more than 100 individuals from 35 countries with a shared interest in Christian theological education and a goal to share thoughts and experiences related to ministry education and better understand one another’s national contexts in Christian theological education.
During the same month, Dr. Jack Sara also travelled to the far east, teaching Asian believers in several mega churches. Training around 300 leaders on leadership, worship and missions, he taught seminars about Christians in the Holy Land and their role in the Kingdom of God.
Though most of our students have finished classes for the Spring Semester, things are just as busy for the faculty of BBC, who will continue their busy travelling and ministry schedules through the summer months.
In June, Jack Sara will be teaching in an important global conference in Bangkok Thailand: http://www.gprocongress.org/speakers, as well as travelling to Germany to train and speak to Arab leaders; a conference he helped to organize. This conference will bring together 250 leaders from across Europe.
Meanwhile, our dean of Students, Shireen Hilal Awwad, will travel to the United States in July,where she will speak at the Wild Goose Festival with Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon. The title of their workshop is Gender, Justice, and Palestine: Christians, Muslims, and Jews Working toward Freedom and Liberation for All. In the Fall of 2016, Jack Sara will return to the USA for a large conference empowering Christian Arabic-speaking young adults; NextGen.
All of this does not include the impact of others on our staff and faculty, such as Dr. Yohanna Katanacho, who regularly travels and speaks internationally, Dr. Bishara Awad, and many others. Nor does it include our local ministry in Palestine and Israel!
Glory to God!
For this, we give the thanks and praise to God who continues to open doors for His glory–both in our own community and around the world, proving that in our weakness He is strong. It is the Lord who has empowered us to fulfill the words of Christ that we would be His witnesses from Jerusalem even to the ends of the earth.
Thanks to all who have hosted us. We are grateful for your support and friendship in Christ. Please check with us if you would like to host one of our speakers in your area, if you haven’t yet – or even better, come and visit us in Bethlehem!