Training Arab Christian leaders to serve and strengthen their church and community in the Holy Land.
Describe the need affecting community
Bethlehem Bible College serves to encourage the church’s continuing presence in both Palestine and Israel by empowering the Christians that have been the forerunners and bastion of the Christian faith for centuries. This is an urgent need due to the rapid decline of the Christian community over several decades from 9% to less than 2%. (In the broader Bethlehem area where the main campus of the College is located, Christians previously were a large majority, but currently they make up less than 50% of the population.) Palestinian Christians continue to leave the Holy Land as a result of the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the physical and economic hardships that it creates.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
Bethlehem Bible College is a flourishing college with over 150 students and a team of highly qualified local faculty and staff, and has come a long way in providing educated Christian leaders able to serve the Palestinian community, as well as Arabic speaking Christians in Israel. As a nondenominational institution, the College can cross the boundaries of denomination, giving us a voice with the whole church. Our graduates, who now serve churches of many denominations throughout the Holy Land, are impacting the church in a tremendous way. The College is the only institution of its kind in the West Bank and Israel that trains Palestinians in the Arabic language for a BA Program in Biblical Studies and Christian Education, an MA Program in Christian Leadership and Ministry, an MA Program in Peace Studies, as well as Diploma Programs in Tour Guiding and Media Studies.
Describe the primary goal of the project
The vision of Bethlehem Bible College is to train, and prepare Christian servant-leaders for the churches and society. Within an Arab context who model Christ centeredness, Godly humility, Biblical wholeness, creative mercy, and justice in their jobs and ministries as life-long learners. We desire to graduate students who are thoroughly equipped to lead the local church with wisdom, compassion and integrity, and who will serve their communities with care and love, which has led to the development of both academic and service programs based in the College, targeting the needs of the local Bethlehem community. Offering quality theological training in Palestine diminishes the need for the declining population of Christians to travel abroad to pursue higher education, helping to maintain local Christian leadership in church and society. Yearly, between 130 and 200 students study in the programs of Bethlehem Bible College, either at the Bethlehem campus or the extension campuses: Nazareth Evangelical College, in Nazareth, Israel, and the Gaza Study Center. BBC is starting an Online Education program to reach out to the broader Middle East and around the world.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
We want Jesus to be honored by producing well-educated, informed, critically thinking Christian leaders. We want our students and graduates to value God’s word, seek unity among the Body of Christ, and be wise in theological, ethical and social spheres. We want to develop and empower peacemakers within the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We desire to see indigenous Christians empowered to remain in the Land and not succumb to the pressures to emigrate, so the historical church is strengthened and grows where it was first planted. In every way we want Bethlehem Bible College, our faculty, staff, and students to be respected as a witness for Christ in whatever domain they serve. We want the name of Christ to be to be honored, even among a Muslim majority country, and his people to be a reflection of his love and concern for all humanity.