Rev. Jack Sara: From Student to Leader
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through the alleys of one of our older buildings at Bethlehem Bible College, and together with me were some of my colleagues. We were checking the building for a new renovation project that we hope to do in order to make the space more useful and utilized better for our ministries.
As my colleagues continued roaming the rooms and halls, I stopped and sat in a chair which was in the room I was in the first class of my studies when I was a student back in 1991-1994. I entered into nostalgic memories from that class of my classmates: Sami, Manal, Salwa, Diana, Sakhr, Jihad, Suheil, Najeeb, Sami and others. And I recalled my amazing teachers: Pastor Nihad, Andrew, Kay, Lindel, Lora, Salim, David and so many others. The dining room was very close to the classrooms, and we could smell the aroma of Im Raja’s cooking sneaking into the classrooms making us more than ready to jump into the dining hall and gobble up everything she made for the BethBC community – and it was certainly an amazing community. Students would have to clean the dishes inside the kitchen taking turns day after day.
I enrolled at BethBC shortly after I committed my life to Christ. I decided to follow him, and to be his disciple; it was through godly young leaders at the Jerusalem Alliance Church that God touched my life, and gave me the chance to accept his call to be a true follower. Early on in my baby steps in faith, I desired to study his Word, and know him more. So I came to BethBC to deepen my life in him. The leaders here were amazing men and women of God, whom he used to also impact me.
I can’t forget how every time I was in distress or was facing a certain challenge in my personal life, Dr. Bishara or one of our teachers would sit and pray with me over these issues. The College made of me a disciple of Christ, someone who loved Jesus, his Word and his people and instilled the passion in my heart to serve him in every way I could. It was in the classrooms that the Holy Spirit was working in my life and convicting me of things that needed to be changed. It was in a classroom and a certain lecture about leadership where I felt God’s clear calling over my life to be in full time ministry. I began my studies at BethBC without direction and without a real calling for the work of the Kingdom, but these things had changed in my life and especially during my third year at BethBC. I became clearly aware of what God was calling me to do as a servant in pastoral ministry.
Besides all the change that was happening in my life, it was there that I began to dig deeper into the Word of God in order to understand it better and be able to teach it to others with integrity. This was certainly a major way that the College was shaping my life and other like-minded students. Many of my classmates and others who preceded me have become godly pastors and leaders in many different places. My church certainly realized what was happening to me and encouraged me to take leadership roles in different capacities such as a youth leader, worship leader and later on preaching from the pulpit. Also realizing the call of God over my life, both my church and the BethBC leadership encouraged me to pursue additional higher education. That was in 1994. With the support of my church community and some from BethBC, I was able to fly to the Philippines and enroll in a Master’s of Divinity program, which took me over three years to finish. After graduation, I came back to Palestine and had both my church and the College opening doors for me to serve in pastoring and in teaching, which resulted in me taking a full time pastoral role at my church in Jerusalem, and teaching part time at BethBC with, on average, two courses every semester focusing on spiritual life, Christian ethics and practical ministry.
I can’t imagine where my life would have been if I didn’t enroll at BethBC. Would I be in ministry now? Would I have accomplished the many things that God used me to accomplish without the training I received at BethBC? Honestly, probably not! My life would have taken a different course and track. But Jesus knows what was and is best for my life, and it was certainly beginning my walk with Christ at Bethlehem Bible College.
I can’t help but stand in awe at God’s amazing love and mercy that he bestowed over my life, the calling he gave me to follow him, become a student of his Word at BethBC, and now with his grace, giving me the opportunity to lead the same College that made me who I am now. All glory goes to Jesus.