ccm Cross 0028
March 19, 2012
Bethlehem Bible College
The Holy Land
ccm Cross #0028
Additional photos after Testimony:
2973 cdd A New Heart
Cyber Daily Devotion
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Ezekiel 36:26
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” NLT (Bible Paraphrase)
My Name is Dr. Bishara Elias Awad. This is my testimony of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me:
My journey with the Lord began soon after the Middle East War in 1948. But before all that — let me tell you of my time in seminary — which will show you how the Lord has watched over me and my entire family from the beginning.
My family and I were visiting the market in San Francisco while I was attending seminary in Fresno, California. While buying something to eat on the street I was talking to my children in Arabic. As we talked a very old lady walked up to me and asked, “Is that Arabic I hear?” “Yes I answered” in English. “Are you a Christian” she asked. “Yes” I replied. “I’m studying at seminary in Fresno”.
The old lady went on to tell us that for 30 years she worked at a Christian School in Jerusalem. And that she left for America because she saw no fruit in what she was doing. Then she mentioned that since she was back in America there was only one girl from the school that she was still praying for. The old lady asked, “Do you happen to have ever met or know of a lady named Uda?”
We were all in shock when we heard that name — for Uda is my mother. We spent a long time together that day as I explained the following about my mother and my life and how faithful the Lord Jesus Christ has been all because of her prayers.
The war in 1948 took my father’s life. We were left as refugees with only our mother Uda to take care of us. The darkness of the moment was deep and almost unbearable and in our times of trouble we turned to Jesus with our lives.
Mom had been educated at a Christian school in Jerusalem and she learned to turn the other cheek. We were all taught that revenge was not part of who we were. Uda taught us to love God and love others around us. Her example taught me to give my life to Christ at an early age and we all hung on to our Lord and Savior.
My family has been rooted in the Middle East as far back as we can find — more than 500 years. We knew as others left we were to stay and be a light for Jesus. We just didn’t know what we were to do but daily the Lord watched over us.
We met a Catholic man from America who the Lord brought into our lives and he made sure my two brothers and I were enrolled in the most prestigious school in Jerusalem. It was St. Georges Anglican School and we received the best education. We all three graduated and I was selected as the best English speaking student. My reward was a complete set of the works of William Shakespeare.
Just before graduation in 1963 the Lord introduced me to a man named Dr. Jack Leach. Jack’s plane was delayed for 24 hours while departing for the USA so he took a cab into Jerusalem. There he met the Dean of Students for our school who introduced me to him. We had a short chat and then Jack was back to the airport.
Two months later I received an invitation and scholarship for four years of schooling at Dakota Wesleyan College in Mitchell, South Dakota. The Lord was clearly working over time in my life. I graduated on time in 1967 but unfortunately there was another Middle East War. When it ended I was not allowed to return to my home land.
With no home land I decided to make lemonade out of the lemons in my life and adopted (or I should say they adopted me) America. After five years in 1972 I was sworn in as a American citizen.
As an American citizen I could apply for and received a visa to go back to my homeland. There I met my wife Salwa who was part of a Christian family in Gaza. We returned to the USA and we had our first child while living in Kansas City, Missouri. At this time my wife was petitioning for us — as a family — to return to our home land. At the same time the Mennonite church asked us to volunteer for them and run their school for orphans and the poor in Jerusalem. Two months later the Lord made a way for us to return to Jerusalem and our expenses were paid and I already had a paying job as the principal of the school. The Lord’s hand continued in my life.
For eleven years I was principal of the Junior and Senior High School in Beit Jala which is next to Bethlehem. For the first few years at the school I was a failure for Jesus. This weighed heavily on e. Oh the kids learned to read and write but they were not receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. One day in my office I confessed my complete failure to Jesus.
I said, “Lord what is wrong and why can’t I make a difference in the lives of these children?”
It was instantaneous when Jesus spoke to my heart, “Your heart is full of bitterness”. I was pierced like a dagger through my heart.
Right then and there I prayed for the enemies that took my father from me and I forgave them.”My healing was done and Jesus gave me a new spirit. A spirit of love for my fellow man and compassion in every sense of the word.
I became a different person. My walk with the Lord was self evident. I didn’t need to preach it. I lived it. I spoke it. And I embraced it with my very being. The students were watching and when they saw what happened to me in my heart they too wanted to follow Jesus. They began in significant numbers to give their lives to Christ.
As the students began to grow in love with Jesus their lives changed. Soon they were graduating from high school with no formal Christian college available for them. Again alone in my office Jesus spoke to my heart — the directive was crystal clear — “Start a Bible College”.
In obedience to the Lord we held a meeting of all the Christian Churches in and around Jerusalem. They all showed Up! What a confirmation that was for me! They came from Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran and all the Evangelical groups. They were excited about a Bible College here for their people. One of the pastors present gave me our first donation. It was for $20.00. He said from his heart these encouraging words, “Bishara you can do this!”
We formed a board of 7 and began operation in 1981. We met at night in the school where I was principal for the first two years. Then we needed more space and more time with the Bible Students. I resigned as principal of the school to become president of the Bible College and we were off and running. We found rental buildings in Bethlehem and became Bethlehem Bible College. But the Lord was not done yet!
I called my brother in the USA who is a Pastor and educator. I asked him to move his family to Bethlehem. He sold everything and returned to help get things going.
In 1990 we were in need of more room as the Bible classes were growing. The Helen Keller Society for the Blind had moved to Jerusalem and their buildings in Bethlehem were in the right place — but they wanted 1.4 million dollars. We asked to rent them and they said no. We started looking at other options and Jesus intervened. They called and we settled for an appropriate price for renting their buildings. We were praising the Lord for HIS wonderful work on our behalf. Then a few years later we handed The Helen Keller people a check for 1.4 million dollars. The Lord was just getting started!
Payment in full for the campus. Jesus is Faithful!
See what Jesus can do with $20.00 Dollars! The $20.00 is like the young boy who only had five loaves and two fish — if you ever think your donation to any work of God is too small — think again. The Lord will use what you give from your heart and miracles will happen.
Currently we have 183 students on three campuses. 117 here in Bethlehem, 54 in Nazareth and 12 in Gaza. Over the years this Bible College under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ has produced most all of the Christian Church leaders throughout the Holy Land.
When I started ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ my heart told me Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Over these many years HE has never failed me and when I needed HIM — HE was there. It corresponds to my favorite verse in the Bible:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. NKJV
The cross just planted here at the Bethlehem Bible College stands tall for us in victory with Christ — Victory over persecutions — Victory over oppressions and Victory over our troubles. We are overcomers because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The cross also speaks to me of peace — peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
My future vision for Bethlehem Bible College that Jesus impressed on my heart is that students would come from all over the world to learn about my Jesus. And that Muslims will come and learn the Bible and experience the saving grace of Jesus for themselves.
In parting thank you Pastor Bill for bringing the cross to Bethlehem Bible College. And to your supporters and readers let me encourage them to never give up. Like the Pastor who only had $20.00 to give — which the Lord turned into a Bible College touching the lives of the entire Holy Land.
Or like the old Lady we met in San Francisco who never gave up praying for a woman she had met 40 years prior. And in so doing became the back bone of prayer for who we became as a family and for the Bethlehem Bible College. To God be all the Glory!
Prayer: Father thank you for the love Jesus places in our hearts when we need it most. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Faculty and Students giving God Glory
as the Cross is dedicated
Selecting the proper lumber
Picking cement, sand and rocks which
when blended together with water
makes excellent concrete
Preparing the lumber to be
joined in the lamination process
Staggering and stacking three layers
of boards with glue in between.
Then screwed together.
Setting the Cross beam in place
Making our way with the Cross — moving
from the garage to the planting site.
Carrying the Cross over head
as we move into position
Lifting the Cross up high to drop into the hole.
“Fire in the Hole”
Dr. Bishara and Pastor Bill attaching the plaque
Student body giving God the Glory
Plaque “Declaring God’s Glory” over Bethlehem
and the entire Holy Land
The birth place of the Lord Jesus Christ