The Rev. Alex Awad is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in Israel/Palestine with his wife, Brenda. He pastors a small international church in East Jerusalem and is affiliated with the Bethlehem Bible College as professor, dean of students, and board member.
Of his ministry he says, “One day may find me teaching a class, another conducting a Bible study with church young people, and yet another sharing with pilgrims on Holy Land visits.”
Rev. Awad was born and raised in Jerusalem. His formative years were marked by the death of his father, who was killed in 1948 during crossfire between the Israeli and Jordanian armies. After the remaining family became refugees, his mother was faced with the task of raising seven children between the ages of six months and eleven years. She enrolled her older children in local boarding schools, many of which had emerged in response to an increased number of children who had lost one or both parents in the war. She worked as a nurse to single-handedly support the family.
Alex reflects that the silver lining in his family’s tragedy was his mother’s revived commitment to the Christ she experienced as a young student in a Christian school. As a result, Alex says, he was practically ‘raised in the church.’
“I was greatly influenced by my mother’s Christian example, as well as that of international missionaries serving in Jerusalem,” he recalls. “As a young boy, I was proud of being a Christian in a school where 95 percent of the boys came from Muslim families. The teachings of our Lord Jesus influenced my life early on, and I became consumed with the desire to see my fellow Palestinians share the faith and hope that brought so much comfort to my family and me in our sufferings. While attending St. George’s High School in Jerusalem, I began praying for God to send missionaries to my people. God’s answer was simple: ‘Why don’t you go?’”
Pursuing that calling, Alex attended a Bible college in Switzerland. Unable to return to his homeland because of the War of 1967, he traveled to the United States and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical education from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. While there, he met and married Brenda and they spent the next seven years teaching in public schools and involved in various church ministries in Tennessee and Georgia. Alex became a naturalized American citizen during that time. He later received two master’s degrees: one in education from North Georgia College in Dahlonega, Georgia, and one in missions and evangelism from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
In 1979, the Awads responded to the call to service at the newly formed Bethlehem Bible College, where they served for six years as independent missionaries. They then served two years at Hope Secondary School, a charitable boarding school near Bethlehem. In 1987, they were forced to leave the country because the Israeli government refused to renew their visas.
After Alex completed his degree at Asbury, the Awads were commissioned by the General Board of Global Ministries to serve as missionaries. They spent the next few years struggling to obtain visas to return to Israel/Palestine. During that period, they served as Mission Interpreters in Residence (MIIR) in Ohio from 1989 to 1990; peace and justice educators in upstate New York from 1990 to 1991; and MIIRs in the South Central Jurisdiction from 1991 to 1994. In 1994, they finally were allowed to return to Palestine, where they continue to serve.
Rev. Awad’s experiences in pastoral and teaching ministries extend beyond Palestine/Israel and the US to include Norway, England, Romania, Brazil, South Africa, Sweden, Holland, and Germany. Alex is the author of Palestinian Memories; the Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People (Bethlehem Bible College, 2008) and Through the Eyes of the Victims (Bethlehem Bible College, 2001), a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of Palestinians. He has also written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in numerous newspapers and periodicals, including The United Methodist Reporter, The Mennonite, Baptist Peacemaker, New World Outlook, Christianity Today, and Christian Social Action.
The Awads have three adult children: Christy and Basem, who, along with their families, live in Thailand; and Randy, who divides his time between Thailand and India.
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