"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Dear brothers and sisters,

March has been a very busy month.  We are thankful for all who came from around the world to engage in the challenging topic of "The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism."  For those who kept us in your prayers during the conference and who have stood with BBC through the years, we are grateful.  Thank you!

In this newsletter, Dr. Bishara Awad recounts a tale of God's faithfulness and the miraculous provision that made (and makes) BBC possible.  (Spoiler alert:  we are relaunching the 240 Club for a new generation.  If you don't know what that means, I encourage you to read the article and stay tuned for more information).  I think you will also enjoy a first-hand account of Christ at the Checkpoint Young Adults from one of our graduating students, Amira Farhoud, who is also on staff at BBC.  We are very proud of our CATC youth and their leadership.

We are grieved by the recent terror attacks around the world, and send our prayers and condolences to our brothers and sisters.  As Christians, we always deplore violence, especially the shedding of innocent blood, and we pray for God's mercy and justice.

Please pray for a team of BBC leadership, including myself.  We recently had a very fruitful meeting in Jordan with all the Evangelical college leadership across the Middle East.  Please continue to pray for the church in this region! May we all continue to grow in the ways of our Lord Jesus Christ and His peaceful kingdom, in these most complicated of times.

In Him,
Rev. Jack Sara
Dr. Bishara Awad shares a tale of God's faithfulness
Dr. Bishara Awad is the founder of Bethlehem Bible College and currently serves as its President Emeritus. He was well-named for his life's work-his name means "gospel" in Arabic. Born in Jerusalem in 1939, his childhood was shaped by the Arab-Israeli war, the establishment of the state of Israel, and most of all the death of his father by a sniper in 1949. His mother Huda never sought investigation as to whether the sniper was Israeli or Arab, and her consistent message to all of her children was forgiveness. Huda's seven children went on to do great things for the Lord amongst the Palestinian people. This is one of their stories, as told by the man who prefers to be addressed simply as "Bishara."

If you ask me about one thing that I have done in my life that I am most proud of, I would say- that day!  The day I stood on the Christ at the Checkpoint stage with three inspiring friends, in front of hundreds of people, and telling them how this conference had changed my life, while also encouraging the upcoming generation to do something for their homeland.  At that moment, as I spoke for my people, I realized that this country of conflicts and war has become my favorite place on earth!  It is my honor to defend a nation that everybody else is abandoning.

What better way to meet the people of Bethlehem than to live amongst them for a season, and to teach English? Carolyn and I had heard so many scary stories about life in the Occupied West Bank. Would we be safe? What exactly would we do when we arrived? To our surprise we were blown away by the hospitality and friendliness of the locals. They almost go out of their way to make you feel at home. Frequently cars stop in the middle of the street to let you walk across a busy road and drivers wave warmly. 

Perhaps you remember a story we shared last fall about Yousef and Merna Al-Khouries, ( http://www.bethbc.org/news/al-khouries-story-war-love-and-promise). Their lives are a testimony to a promise that came true. They have dreamed and prayed together and God has opened doors for them. Our Yousef is very much like the biblical Joseph: "the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man." From Gaza to the United States, God has been with him and showed His faithfulness every step of the way. Yousef is now studying for a Master's of Divinity with concentration in Missions at Nyack Christian College, the Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York. He and his wife Merna are living on campus, in a small cozy apartment about 2 miles away from the Seminary and 30 miles north of New York City.

In town of Christ's birth, from March 7 to 10, the fourth biannual Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, hosted by Bethlehem Bible College (BBC), was held.
The theme this year was "The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism"-a topic that aptly reflects the current context of the Middle East but has special meaning for Palestinian Christians. The number of Christians in the West Bank and Gaza has diminished significantly in the last two decades as the churches face the injustices of Israel's ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands, a choked economy, and violence between Palestinians and Israelis.