The Bible College has been encouraging study for students in Gaza for many years – from 1990 until the early years of this century lecturers traveled to Gaza and held classes and some students were able to travel and study in Bethlehem. This all came to a halt as problems developed in the area. In 2011 several Christians asked if plans could be made to revive and renew the College’s involvement in Biblical and theological study in some way although restrictions made it impossible for College staff to travel to Gaza. Rev.John Angle from the UK, acting as the Director of the Study Center for the College took up the challenge to initiate, fund and develop the College’s teaching ministry amongst the Christian community in Gaza.
A number of students began to study at the Diploma and Bachelor degree level and some attended lectures for their own personal interest. In the autumn of 2012 ten students began to study for the MA degree and although this number has reduced to six, these students are well on track to graduate with a Master’s degree in 2017.One student has already graduated from Gaza with a BA degree and three others are working at that level and will eventually graduate. All students in Gaza are part time, working on their studies and at the same time having other work and family responsibilities. The students have their own dedicated lecture room and mini library by kind permission of a Christian school in Gaza.
Study in Gaza is not easy. Teaching is in modular form with short periods of intensive study when lecturers visit. Skype, internet communication and e learning is also used. Life is not easy in Gaza – electricity is intermittent and rarely available for more than eight hours a day, gas for heating, and cooking as well as all forms of fuel are in short supply and expensive and there is always the fear of conflict – not a conducive learning environment.
Pray for the Christian community in Gaza. Many Christians are leaving and many hope to leave. Recent estimates (early 2016) suggest the total Christian population in Gaza is now below one thousand. The region needs peace. Pray for the Gaza Study Centre, not just that it will survive but that it might thrive and serve this needy area and God will give new vision for its future.