By Carl and Becky Van Stavern
Greetings from Bethlehem. It has been another beautiful, but challenging day.
Today we visited the Bethlehem Bible College for a discussion of Christian Zionism with Dr. Alex Awad. The college was started as a local Christian school with a vision and only twenty dollars. They claim their greatest assets are the students and graduates who are trained to be pastors, Christian educators, counselors, teachers, and tour guides. They firmly believe that as long as they are Christ centered and faithful, the college will survive any pressures that exist.
Next, we visited the Hope Secondary School in Beit Jala where we were greeted by Principal Solomon Nour and his daughter. We visited with some of the children in their classrooms, were given a tour of the school, and visited their chicken houses. Reta Finger was offered a fresh egg right from the source but did not feel it would be secure on the bus ride back. Many of the children are from low-income families; in addition some of the students are orphans. The school was originally started by Mennonites and currently receives support from many sources including both the United Methodist and Lutheran Churches. They served us a delicious lunch.
We returned to Manger square to visit the Mosque of Omar and had conversation with Mufti Atef Omar. Everyone had to remove their shoes before entering the mosque. The women had to put scarves on their heads and all were properly dressed. Atef shared the basic principles of Muslim belief.
Our last stop was at the Dheisheh Refugee Camp where Palestinians have been living since 1948. We were given a brief tour of the refugee camp. It is an experience we will never forget. The children have such beautiful smiles. There are approximately 15,000 people living on 0.31 kilometers of land.
We were in places today that showed evidence of profound hope and places in which there was just a pinch of hope. Yet, there was still hope. For what we could see through that short tour may have seemed hopeless but with God all things are possible. As we close this blog, we hear the prayer bells in the distance.
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