Strong Women in the Face of the Pandemic!
It has been a year since we discovered the first coronavirus case in Palestine and since the ongoing (off and on) lockdowns started. How life can change in a year is unbelievable! How humankind can adapt to new changes and a new lifestyle is beyond my understanding.
Here at Bethlehem Bible College, we have had our share of ups and downs, our hopeful days and depressing ones. I share my office with my best friend, a mom of three, a wife and a hard-working woman, who I witnessed facing this pandemic with strength, hope and adaptation.
Claude Juha is the Head of the Community Training Department; part of her job is to organize all the College’s courses for the community. She also makes all the tour arrangements for the groups that visit the College.
Claude’s courses and tours stopped when the pandemic started. She had to adapt to the new life: “After the pandemic began, I had to think of new fields to develop my work and to adapt with the latest (and rapidly-developing) media platforms. We developed a new Arabic Online Course for Internationals, and it was a success. We reached many people worldwide who are excited to learn spoken Arabic. It has been a year, and the program is still going great with new students every time, and we even opened Levels 2 and 3.
“We also developed new tourism courses that allow people to discover Biblical places from their houses. These courses help people understand the Bible stories and places, from a local Palestinian perspective.”
Claude added that converting everything to online was a double-edged sword. In our culture, people don’t prefer online courses, so it was challenging transferring our community courses online. We lost a lot of students in the process. On the other hand, we reached a new audience – friends from all over the world – and we found that the online courses offer easy access to a lot of international friends and family. We plan to continue with our online courses for internationals even after the pandemic ends.
A Gift from Heaven
Even in a worldwide crisis, we can witness miracles! That’s what happened with Claude. God gave her and her family a small, precious gift that she named “Celine,” which means heavenly because this baby that came amid the crisis was given from heaven!
Though it wasn’t an easy pregnant at all, Claude remembers those times: “I knew I was pregnant with Celine a few weeks before the first lockdown in Palestine. When that happened, I panicked; I didn’t know what to do or how to act. Nobody knew anything about the virus at that time. I was afraid about my baby and myself and I didn’t know how much it would affect the baby if I got infected with the virus, so I panicked and lost my peace of mind!
“I did the only thing I knew would work, I prayed! I dropped all my fear at the feet of Jesus, and I asked Him to take the lead! True to His word, He gave me unbelievable peace that stayed with me through the whole pregnancy. Despite all the fear and uncertainty around me, I had peace in my heart and my pregnancy went well, and baby Celine came into the world on the 5th of November, 2020.
“Personally, I learned not to take anything for granted. The pandemic taught me that every big or small thing in our lives is a blessing from above and that a microscopic virus that we can’t see with our own eyes can take all those blessings and turn our lives upside down. God taught me during these times that life doesn’t have to be perfect and rosy all the time, but sometimes things change and life changes, but He remains the same!
“I praise God for carrying my family and me during these times and for the bundle of joy that fills our hearts with love. I praise Him for the College and for the opportunity to keep reaching out through our online courses to the whole world!”
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.