Hope rises from the ashes: BethBC in Moments of Crisis By Dr. Jack Sara

Last Saturday, a church that meets over the Zoom platform invited me to speak for their weekly meeting. The church is based in Europe, but all the people are originally from Middle Eastern countries, and several of them are actually Palestinian. We met on Zoom due to the Coronavirus pandemic, of course, because it is difficult to meet in person. The positive side is that the church has grown to include more and more people who previously had no chance to even see each other in person, let alone pray and fellowship together. One thing was guiding my sermon, that God is doing something new among His people and we need to be ready for a different future. The verses I used are Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Our trust and faith lie in the belief that God is going to do something new in our lives and in our communities. God is the God of hope and new beginnings and we are looking ahead to the future with hope that despite the hardship of the times we are going through He will make things new. But let’s keep our trust in Him and come closer to His bosom.

Last year was a sweet and sour year for us here at Bethlehem Bible College. The sour part was the difficulties that everyone passed through: social distancing, fear, lack of resources, closure, and growing economic needs. Yet there was the sweet part of it: that our community has enlarged, our student numbers grew, we reached more people with training, lectures, and courses. God used us to help so many people in need, people we didn’t even know were there.

Reflecting on the last year, I say thank You Lord that You kept us safe. Despite some of our staff getting sick with Corona, their lives were spared. Despite having to teach and study from a distance, students’ lives were changed and their numbers increased. Despite the fact that a lot of our international friends couldn’t come and be with us on the campus, many of them invited us to their churches, classes, and homes via online platforms. We will continue to build and foster these relationships and wait for the time that we will be able to meet in person again.

As all of this is happening, here in Bethlehem we are working on a five-year strategic plan for the College, renovating our guest house, building new online programs (which include peace studies courses and an online BA in Biblical Studies), and writing more articles and books to bless the community.

God is the God of hope and new beginning and this is what we will focus on this year. We will rise from the ashes of this pandemic and we will continue to live for God, transform lives, train people to serve Christ in the world, promote an Evangelical Palestinian theology, and embody Christ through community development.