“Life’s most urgent questions is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” -Jesus
On the evening of June 10, friends and supporters of the Shepherd Society gathered to celebrate its twenty years of service in Bethlehem. What began as a vision of a small group of men to provide financial help to the economic suffering of local Christians has evolved into a ministry that reaches poor and needy Christians and Muslims not only in the Bethlehem region, but also in Gaza and even more recently, refugees in Jordan.
“We praise God that we have been able to reflect Christ’s love in a practical way, which is our main goal. Shepherd Society has grown beyond our expectation” said Director George Abdo. George is the Society’s third director, inheriting the leadership from Pastor Alex Awad in 2015, who received the baton from Pastor Nihad Salman in 2006, each serving approximately 10 years.
Today the team is composed of George and social workers Muna Nour and Sari Zeidan, who provide counseling and practical help to thousands of families in the region. “We haven’t kept records for the entirety of our history,” said George, “But in my estimation, we have delivered at least 20,000 food parcels, not to mention the other forms of service that we have been able to provide, by the grace of God.” These other services include small grants for people starting new business, financial help with emergency medical bills and emotional and spiritual support.
“I am especially proud of the outreach that we have expanded beyond our local region, into Gaza and more recently to serve the Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan” said George.
At the anniversary celebration, which was filled with songs of worship, great food and the bestowing of appreciation plaques to several international supporters, the audience was also addressed through Skype by Jamal Hashweh, Director of Global Hope Network Int’l in Jordan, who thanked the ministry for the emotional and financial support that they had provided to the refugees.
Global Hope Network and Shepherd Society will continue their partnership in other ways in the days ahead. They are currently planning to develop a new community center in the Bethlehem region. This “House of Mary” will especially serve the needs of small communities on the outskirts of the municipality that are marginalized from most social services.
The event was emceed by Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac and opened with a message by Rev. Dr. Jack Sara, as well as attended by various dignitaries and leaders from the region, including officials representing the Palestinian Authority.
“My great prayer is that all who are impacted by the Shepherd Society will not remember us as much as they remember Jesus Christ. He is the reason for everything we do!” said Director George Abdo.