BethBC Student Involvement at CATC5

Last week, Bethlehem Bible College held the 5th Christ at the Checkpoint Conference with around 400 participants from all over the world. To know more about the conference please read our previews articles here!

One of the highlights of this conference was the participation of our students in the conference itself, as well as in a separate program they did with international students.

Around 12 students from BethBC and 35 international students led by Dr. Gary Burge, participated in what they called the “Student Track”. The main goal of the track is for the Palestinian students to gather with the international students to have time together for fellowship, understanding, exchange of knowledge, culture, and for theological dialogue.

The track achieved its goal. Mrs. Shireen Hilal, the Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College who led the track, said: “We have had many students who were very impressed by one another.  My students were amazing; they interacted with the internationals a lot. Relationships were built, and there was an exchange of Facebook accounts, emails and pictures.”

In the student sessions, the students went on two different field trips. The first one they went to was Battir, a Palestinian village west of Bethlehem. It is one of the landmarks where the wall is not yet completed, so the students were able to visualize the building of the separation wall on Palestinian land.

They also visited the Abraham mosque and the old city of Hebron. It was a life-changing experience for the international students because in Hebron they crossed checkpoints. For many, it was the first time they had ever been stopped and checked, because those who have different skin colors and look like Palestinians were pulled out of the group and checked. So, it was a life-changing experience for them because they had to go through what Palestinians go through daily.

Tent of Nations

The group also went to Tent of Nations. Read more about it here. The goal was to show the internationals that there are also Christians who suffer, and that there are Christians whose land is in danger of being taken! Mrs. Shireen added: “It is not true that if you are a Muslim you suffer, and if you are a Christian you don’t. We are all Palestinians; we all suffer!”

The international students were very open, and some of them knew a lot about the situation but never actually experienced it. They never actually went through things that the Palestinians go through every day. They were very sympathetic toward the local students, and they were very encouraged by them. The internationals were amazed at how the local students can bear all of this conflict in this country with such grace!

At the end of the conference, the international students were more committed to peace building. Most of them took initiative by telling the other about the Palestinian people, about their hospitality, conflict, struggle, daily life and how they go through hardships. Most of them wanted to come back, learn more and volunteer at our organizations.

Students Fundraising Booth at CATC5

One additional thing our students did at CATC5, was putting up a fundraising booth for student activities. They sold “zeit and za’tar”, kuffiyyas, nuts, chocolate that had the Palestinian flag on it, embroidery items and many other things. They chose these items because they were made solely by Palestinian families who have limited income.

They raised enough money to support 15 students who are going to Jordan to serve among the Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and also some students who are going to Italy to attend a training conference about how to serve the refugees.

Final Word from the Dean of Students!

“There are young, unique Christians who live in Bethlehem, who really seek peace, who are not terrorists, who would like to engage with other internationals, who would like to have a cultural exchange experience, who would like to learn more about other countries, who are hospitable, and who are willing to learn. So, come see the living stones in Palestine, not only the holy stones!”