Living and Volunteering in Bethlehem: Hospitality Unequaled Anywhere in the World
Volunteering at the Bethlehem Bible College Guesthouse is proof that whenever you give of yourself and your time, you will always receive so much more in return.
Our experience as guesthouse hosts at the Bethlehem Bible College far exceeded our expectations of a visit to the Holy Land. Although we have spent time in Bethlehem before, this experience provided the most meaningful interactions with Palestinian Christians and Muslims. We were quickly embraced by the BethBC family of faculty, staff, and administrators. We were also very fortunate to be able to attend many events, conferences, and lectures offered at the College. One of the most special events was celebrating Bethlehem Bible College’s 40th anniversary. BethBC is truly a wonderful college, and a very important ecumenical institution for all Christians in the area and beyond.
As guesthouse hosts, we had the pleasure of welcoming amazing people from all over the world. We prepared and served breakfast, and took care of many other details that would arise at the guesthouse. Sometimes we helped plan short tours and day trips, often taking our guests to sites around the city, introducing them to Bethlehemites, and sharing the stories of daily life in Palestine. We were so enriched by these interactions with our guests and local Palestinians!
Because we didn’t have a car, we explored Bethlehem on foot, which often brought new, unexpected, wonderful adventures to us. We often experienced hospitality unequaled anywhere in the world!
BethBC is located in an interesting and busy neighborhood on Hebron Road, sandwiched between two refugee camps, near the separation wall and guard tower. Every day was a new adventure. It’s not always necessary to make plans ahead of time. There is always something new to explore. One just needs to be patient, flexible, and spontaneous. The Holy Land is surely a land of contrasts. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is walled in, and confined by the powerful and oppressive Israeli occupation. Palestine is a living example of apartheid. This was a good experience to spend time in solidarity with Palestinians, especially with the dwindling number of Christian Palestinians. We were there to be a witness to the perils and struggles of daily life living under occupation. Everyone has incredible stories to tell. Sometimes our job was just to be present and listen. If you want to become closer to God, then come to the Holy Land. Spend some time in Bethlehem, the birthplace of the living Jesus. Rediscover the command of Jesus to love your neighbor.
Exploring the roots of our faith in Bethlehem and the Holy Land is wonderful and fascinating. But even more rewarding is meeting the people living there today, and hearing their stories. God sustains the people, even in the midst of the realities of occupation. Being in solidarity, making life-long friends, learning about the lives of Palestinians in Bethlehem, is truly a transformative experience.
We have been so enriched and blessed by our experience at Bethlehem Bible College. Our hearts have been forever captured!