News from Christmas 2004
Alex & Brenda Awad
THANKS BE TO GOD FOR HIS INDESCRIBLE GIFT
2 COR 9:15
A Time to Celebrate Christmas
God keeps his promises! A baby is born and we continue to celebrate. We are recipients of his grace, of the supreme gift of his love. It is this love that enriches our lives, fills us with joy and allows us to be instruments of peace, mercy, love and justice in our broken world.
2004 was a year of ‘turns and surprises’ and ‘ups and downs’. Just look at the list:
• 2004 became the year of the almost total empty nest. We had a practice run in the latter half of 2003, but only in 2004 did we experience it fully. Our children, though far, are close in mind and heart. Christy and David are still teaching at the University of Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai, Thailand where Randy is now staying with them and studying at Payap University. As for Basem, he is studying in Spain and Austria pursuing a Master’s degree in the field of international peace development. Basem will visit us during Christmas.
• In March and April, Christy visited us for two months, while her husband David traveled to Tokyo. We were delighted to have Christy with us. She helped with the empty nest syndrome and with some major editing on an updated version of Alex’s book, now in the final stages of completion.
• In June, Bethlehem Bible College celebrated its 25th anniversary. One quarter of a century ago we responded to the call of God to help start the Bible College. We resigned our teaching jobs in North Georgia, said goodbye to the congregation we ministered to, packed up our small family consisting of Christy age 3 and Basem still unborn and came to Bethlehem. Alex’s hair has turned white, but Brenda’s stayed much the same.
• In July, the Awads celebrated the wedding of Alex’s nephew Tobias to beautiful Cornelia Brain in Augsburg, Germany. It was a time of family reunion with Alex’s sister, Diana, and her husband, Werner. Quite a number of Awads came from the USA and enjoyed the festive occasion. Afterwards, our family (Alex, Brenda, Basem & Randy and a friend, Solomon Douhne) took a road trip to Switzerland and Austria visiting Alex’s old Bible College in Wienacht and doing a lot of sightseeing, in particular Alpensland. It was a fairy tale adventure that we will treasure in our memories.
• August 2004 completed 10 years since we returned to Bethlehem under the sponsorship of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church to resume our ministries both in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem after we were denied entry to the country from 1987-1994.
• In October, Bishop Naim Nassar, who stood side by side with us during the past 25 years as chairman of the Board of Directors of BBC, went to be with the Lord. What a great testimony he left behind! His life story is compiled in a book called, Father of the Fatherless.
• In October, we traveled to the US to visit Alex’s mother, Huda, who at 88 years of age was in poor health. Since then she has improved and stabilized. We also traveled to North Carolina, California, New Mexico, Washington, DC, and NY to share with different groups and churches about the Bible College ministry. We received great hospitality!
• In November, while in the States, we heard of the terminal illness that unexpectedly took the life of Brenda’s sister Mary (75). Brenda had the chance to be with her beloved sister for the last 9 days of her life on earth. She also had the opportunity to see many family members, among them her remaining five brothers and twin sisters.
• Also in November, the Palestinian people said their last goodbye to Yasser Arafat, the leader who was the symbol of their struggle for freedom and statehood for many years.
Moreover, throughout the year, the Palestinian Israeli conflict took a heavy toll on our emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical stamina. Seeing the wall go up around Bethlehem in early 2004, clinching the entrapment of the city’s local population was a great disappointment. It is hard to stare in the face of such injustice and not be outraged. Our emotions simulated a roller coaster ride, as we fought to keep our frustrations over lack of progress in the peace process from overwhelming our faith and trust that the situation will get better.
Throughout 2004 and in all of these family and national ups and downs we felt the mighty presence of Emanuel. Come what may in 2005; we trust in the promise of our Lord who said “… Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."” Hebrews 13:5
Challenges and Opportunities 2005
We thank our families, friends and partners who constantly pray for our ministries and support the work in different ways.
Here are some of our urgent needs:
• Pray that 2005 will be a year of peace. As Palestinians choose a new leader, we hope that they will vote in a leader that will promote peace and justice through nonviolent means. Pray also that the Israelis will not frustrate the Palestinian drive to calm the political atmosphere.
• As the Bible College branches out and expands so do its financial needs. Pray that we may be able to meet those needs. To help the Bible College financially send your check to: P.O. Box 17166; Jerusalem 91190; Israel. United Methodists can send contributions to one of the following advance numbers: #13557N or #21017A. These are listed under Palestine/Middle East.
• Our Church in Jerusalem meets at a beautiful but very old building. We have renovations needs. We are pleased to announce that we have a new Advance Number for this project. It is #14907N. Alex’s Advance #: 10825Z. Brenda’s Advance #: 10826Z.
We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Alex & Brenda Awad