Every academic year at Bethlehem Bible College, we look forward to welcoming new hard-working students who carry big dreams in their hearts! Bethlehem is a small town, true, but it has big dreams: dreams that awaken dormant souls and fly higher than any walls.
Once I had a big dream to serve God with all I had. In His faithfulness and graciousness, God helps me fulfil this dream every day as I work at Bethlehem Bible College (BBC). Serving in the Biblical Studies Department for several years now, there is “no greater joy” than to see our students “walking in the truth”.
Throughout their years of study, as teachers we seek to invest in students’ academic and spiritual life at every opportunity. We see their lives as fertile soil where, every day, we aim to sow seeds, inspired by Jesus, the greatest teacher, who challenges us to walk in His way and follow His guidance.
Among the academic programmes that BBC offers is a BA in Biblical Studies, a Diploma in Tour Guiding and a Diploma in Media Studies. Our Media Studies department even makes programmes that are broadcast on SAT-7!
As in every other academic institute, getting to know students with all their varied characters is exciting and inspiring. Some are studious and ambitious, others are conscientious and competitive, some are uncertain of their calling but still trying to understand God’s purpose for their life. Whatever the circumstances, we seek to equip and train with all the wisdom the Lord gives us!
Situated in the heart of Bethlehem, the college welcomes students from neighbouring towns. And whilst Bethlehem remains a city that hustles and bustles with tourists, markets and packed ice cream and coffee shops, the challenges of living here remain unchanged. Apart from limited (sometimes no) freedom of movement, physical restrictions, demonstrations, most worrying for students is the high rate of unemployment.
According to recent statistics, “The unemployment rate in Palestine increased to 27.0 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 26.6 percent a year ago.” There are no guarantees that students (from any institution) will find jobs after completing their degrees. Some may find work but not in their fields of expertise, while others wait for years. And of course, a “decent job” in a third world country like Palestine does not bear comparison with one in a Western country.
As a result, many people, especially from the Christian community, end up leaving Palestine to seek better job opportunities elsewhere. Subsequently, the local Christian population has diminished in this land to less than 2 per cent. With every day, it becomes harder to believe that this is the place where it all started!
So it is not surprising that the number one question our students consider as they enroll at the different programmes of the college is: “Will we find a job after we graduate?!” Whilst we believe that God is able to open great doors to serve Him, life on the ground here remains politically and economically unstable.
Yet, God’s greatest plan for our lives cannot be confined or restricted. Surely, from this humble place, we continually hope and pray that our students and graduates’ impact will reach to the ends of the earth. It is a missional vision that we endorse and pray God will bring our labour and commitment to fruition.
Whether our students will one day become tour guides, journalists, scholars, theologians, church ministers, youth group leaders, school/college teachers, or evangelists, at the core of our mission is to touch and transform lives for the Kingdom. We seek to train and equip students to succeed and excel, to be faithful in wherever God takes them and whatever the opportunities that they might embrace.
Always useful, always called
Even during those days of waiting before something lightens up on the horizon, our prayer is that they will seek to be useful for the community and put to practice what they have learnt. The college tries to encourage students to take part in voluntary work in different organisations to gain experience and offer a service to the wider community whilst reflecting the Lord’s light to everyone regardless of religion, race or identity.
In Palestine, the issue of unemployment, like many other things, remains controlled by bigger political, economic and social circumstances. But God’s call to us is bigger than any unemployment problems. There is nothing that can stop us from sharing the good news with anyone at any time. This call knows no unemployment challenges or retirement age. It should be our consuming passion to share Jesus with others, to fulfil the greatest commandment and the “Great Commission”.
This has to be the biggest dream that anyone of us can fulfil, wherever we find ourselves. “Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
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