Our Celebration of “The Ongoing Journey of Faithfulness”
The first weekend of November we celebrated the “Ongoing Journey of Faithfulness” – 40 years of commitment, God’s blessing and goodness over our beloved Bethlehem Bible College. A full two days of celebrating, welcoming old staff, graduates and donors, all gathered together to celebrate the faithfulness of God.
Student Impact Reception
The first day of the celebration was a Student Impact Reception that took place at our campus. Our President Rev. Dr. Jack Sara opened the event with a warm greeting on behalf of the founder of the college Dr. Bishara Awad, the faculty, staff and students of Bethlehem Bible College (BethBC). Following his welcome, Mr. Botrus Mansour, the President of the Convention of Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, opened the event with a word of prayer. A speech was given by the Governorate of Bethlehem, then our Vice Academic Dean & Coordinator of Students’ Affairs, Mr. Gabriel Hanna, led a time of worship with one of our graduates.
The story of Our Journey of Faithfulness was given by our Director of Administration, Mrs. Jihan Twemeh Nazzal, who gave a brief review about our history. She talked about the development of each department in the College throughout our 40 years. Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, our Academic Dean, spoke about our academic achievements. He mentioned the academic programs we have, and the ones we recently added, such as the Hebrew Diploma Program, and the diligent efforts of our team to achieve this.
An impact video was displayed to the audience, depicting graduates from different programs and years. Each one has accomplished something special and impacted the field he or she is working in right now. They all spoke about the influence of the College in their lives and how it changed them and prepared them for their field of work. (Watch the video here)
Testimonies of Faithfulness
Three of our faithful donors shared about their partnerships and cooperation with the College. Mrs. Hanneke Schraven from Open Doors, remembered the time Brother Andrew first met our very own Dr. Bishara Awad. Referring to that time she said: “It was friendship at first sight. During their first meeting Br. Andrew was impressed by Dr. Bishara’s kindness, and from the beginning they trusted one another.” She added: “At a certain point the question was asked ‘Why’? Why are you coming to this place, to Palestine? Brother Andrew’s answer was short and clear: ‘I’m looking for my brothers!’ I want to see the Living Stones! I want to hear from my brothers and sisters, how they are doing.” This encounter between those two men of God was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.
Kirstin Elmquist from PMU Sweden shared with a grateful heart: “We are proud of being part of your history and the very important work you do for peace, justice, and development, being an important bridge-builder in your society as well as in the region. We are also proud of what we together have been able to do for the benefit of the people in Bethlehem, the Holy Land, as well as the people in the region. We have, among other things, developed a library, built up a media department, strengthened the local civil society and through your media work given voice to people and their needs.”
Kay Zahasky of Strategic Resource Group expressed: “We are celebrating this weekend the 40th Anniversary of the Bethlehem Bible College, founded by a visionary leader, Dr. Bishara Awad. An extraordinary man, who had eyes to see into the future…and to believe…what could be! He had the heart to pour his life into building men and women to become future Christian leaders. Now Dr. Jack Sara leads with excellence as the College expands and develops even more into a leading institution in Palestine and with online learning even having an impact in the entire MENA region and beyond!”
At the end of the event our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) honored, first and foremost, our very own father and the founder of the College, Dr. Bishara Awad, who said: “We are proud that this College is local, it was not started by international missionaries, or churches, or religious organizations from abroad; but it is local Palestinian College, whose goal is to train leaders to serve in local organizations and churches.” Then the SLT honored all the staff that worked for the College for more than 20 years, then they asked the whole staff and faculty team of the College to come to the stage. We all celebrated our second home with tears in our eyes and hopes for an even better and brighter future, with confident hearts that the one who took us on this journey will always be faithful!
Fundraising Gala Dinner
The second day of the weekend was a fundraising Gala Dinner that took place in a hotel in Bethlehem. About 200 people attended the dinner, including donors, leadership, board members, staff, and people from the community. Everything at the dinner fit the theme of Palestinian culture – the food was pure Palestinian, and the music as well, and that made the event even more special.
Rev. Dr. Alex Awad was our guest of honor. He shared with us a word of encouragement: “I’m encouraged to know and believe that the Christ of yesterday and all its miracles, and the Christ of today and all its victories, is also the Christ of tomorrow.” One of our Biblical Studies students, Joe Anwar, shared about the College’s effect on his life. Then Dr. Bishara Awad shared a word with the crowd and led us in prayer before Rev. John Angel took over to lead an auction. All proceeds from the auction and the 40th Anniversary Weekend celebration went toward student scholarships at BethBC.
Our celebration left us with gratitude in our hearts, first of all, for our Lord Jesus, who took us in this journey. Some folks left, and some stayed, but He remained faithful! And secondly, for the father of the College, Dr. Bishara Awad, who started it all. God rewarded his amazing, graceful heart. Today, as we look forward to the future, we pray that we can carry the message of Dr. Bishara to the whole world, and continue the journey he started; the Ongoing Journey of Faithfulness.
(To watch the 40th-anniversary celebration video click here)
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.