Brother Andrew (‘God’s Smuggler’) describes it as a ‘beacon of light’
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK (ANS – Dec. 31, 2015) — Despite the declining Christian presence in Bethlehem and against great odds, Bethlehem Bible College is still standing, in the words of Brother Andrew, the author of “God’s Smuggler”, as a ‘beacon of light’ in this historic town, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and extending His peace to everyone through various outreach programs.
Since 1997, in celebration of the Christmas message, Bethlehem Bible College (http://www.bethbc.org) has hosted a Christmas banquet as a form of encouragement to the Christian community and as an evangelistic outreach. People from all over the West Bank and from different religions and denominations were all invited to attend and had the opportunity to hear a Christ-centered message as part of the program.
And this year was no different as some 800 people attended the Annual Christmas Outreach in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 2015).
“Our guest speaker for this year was Reverend Victor Hashweh. Rev. Hashweh is an Arab Christian from Amman, Jordan and is one of the key evangelical Christian leaders of the Middle East,” said a spokesperson for the Bethlehem Bible College. “He is an evangelist in itinerant ministry throughout the Arab world and Europe.
“Focusing on the shepherd’s reaction to the angel’s message, Rev. Hashweh shared how the angels did not appear to religious people but to normal individuals, noting how Christ did not come to establish a religion, but to ‘transform lives.’ At the end of his sermon he invited the audience to receive Christ as their personal Savior and around thirty people responded to his invitation.
Akram Nassar, director of Bethlehem Bible College choir, invited everyone together for caroling. The choir sang traditional Christmas songs in Arabic such as “We wish you a merry Christmas” and “Silent Night.’
“Later in the evening, the Ramallah Local Church choir impressed everyone with a beautiful performance. Interspersed between songs, Jackie Kakish, the choir’s director, narrated Christ’s presence throughout Scripture, from Genesis to the gospels narratives,” added the spokesperson.
“As fairy lights and carols filled the banquet hall, the people of Bethlehem, both Christians and Muslims, were reminded of the greatest miracle that this little town has ever seen.”
New Vision Media Center Releases New Children’s Television Ministry
Across Palestine and the Arab world, children will find a new reason to smile when they turn on their television sets. Bethlehem Bible College’s Media Center releases a new and unique outreach to children; an Arab Christian television puppet show along the lines of Sesame Street
According to the Bethlehem Bible College spokesperson, the Media center recently completed filming a full season of “Dehkeh w Tarnemeh” which means “Worship and Smile,” as one of the many family productions that the center produces.
“The goal of the show is to strengthen and entertain Arabic-speaking children between 6-12 years, especially those in the Middle East who live in difficult situations,” added the spokesperson. “’Dehkeh w Tarnemeh’” presents skits and fun music that will encourage, entertain, strengthen, and enlighten their thoughts. The show also delivers Christian Biblical messages through the songs and short lessons.
“Each show begins with the main host, Gabriel Hanna, the Media Center’s Director, singing and playing the piano and welcoming the children who are watching him. Then he welcomes the stars of the show: three puppets named ‘Amir, Amira and Farfoor, the parrot.’ The four of them share a story or an idea that is relevant and age-appropriate for children. With a very creative way, they laugh and sing while sharing the story.”
“Dehkeh w Tarnemeh” was filmed and recorded at NVMC Studio-New Vision Media Center-at the Bethlehem Bible College. The whole media team worked hard for this show includes Alaa’ Khoury, the director, Nidal Atrash and Ashraf Qazaha in shooting and editing.
The show contains 20 episodes; each one is 8 minutes long. It will be aired on a very popular channel called Sat7 Kids that reaches millions of people around the Arab world.
Note: Bethlehem Bible College is a Christian evangelical college, founded in 1979 by Dr. Bishara Awad in Bethlehem, at the time under Israeli military occupation rule. It was created to prepare Christian leaders to serve Arab churches and society in the Holy Land, Bethlehem Bible College is a Christian college located in Bethlehem, the very site where Jesus Christ was born. Located within the territory of the West Bank, the local community is highly impacted by today’s political unrest and conflict.
It is from the very epicenter of Christianity, that the Christian community is slowly decreasing. Before 1948 the Christian community was roughly 8% of the community in the Holy Land. Today, the Christian population is a less than 1.5% of the Palestinian community, as many Christians are emigrating from the difficult political situation to better opportunities for education, work, and their families abroad.
It aims to strengthen and revive the Christian church and support the local Christians in the Holy land, in order to combat this growing Christian exodus.
Photo captions: 1) Some of the more than 800 people who attended the annual Christmas event. 2) Baby Jesus, born in Bethlehem. 3) The puppet show made at the Bethlehem Bible College. 4) Young boy lights a candle for peace in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. 5) Dan Wooding is pictured here interviewing Dr. Bishara Awad at the Bethlehem Bible College for his “Front Page Radio” show.
Note: If you would like to help support the ASSIST News Service, please go to www.assistnews.net and click on the DONATE button to make your year-end tax-deductible gift (in the US), which will help us continue to bring you these important stories. If you prefer a check, please make it out to ASSIST and mail it to: PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609, USA. Thank you.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California, and has reported widely for ANS from all over the Middle East, including Bethlehem on several occasions.
** You may republish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)