A Christian school in Bethlehem, supported by funding from Barnabas Aid, is celebrating 20 years of providing a Christian education to poor Christian children in a city where they are a despised minority.
The school, built largely with funding from Barnabas, opened in September 2003 in a quiet area of Bethlehem with 15 children in kindergarten, while elsewhere in the city the violence of an intifada (uprising) was raging.
Today St Aphrem’s School has 650 children and young people on its roll, aged from three to 18, and the overwhelming majority of them are Christian. Its staff of 61 are also Christian.
“We thank the Lord for His graces bestowed upon us and remain in gratitude to Barnabas Aid for their unconditional love and care for our school and all its members,” says school director Miss Amal Behnam.
The generous donations of sponsors and other Barnabas Aid supporters are “the main reason for our existence, persistence and steadfastness” over 20 years, she adds.
“Our journey was paved with different challenges, upheavals and tests,” adds Miss Amal. “Nevertheless, the amazing results and achievements of our students have brightened up the road to our joyful successes.”
Many Christian parents are struggling financially because their jobs in Bethlehem are reliant on tourism, which has not fully recovered since visitor numbers plunged during the pandemic.
Thanks to Barnabas funding, however, St Aphrem’s continues to charge very low fees so that even the poorest Christian children can attend.
Pupils learn Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus
As well as receiving a quality education, students are given detailed understanding of the Bible, and are taught Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Every morning in devotions, they sing the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.
“I have experienced the best Christian setting and environment ever at my school,” said 17-year-old Jiovanni, who is about to graduate from St Aphrem’s after almost 15 years.
“Please keep us all in your prayers and help us all receive the best educational opportunities possible.”
Project reference: 65-420 (School places for Christian children in Bethlehem)