We have been trying to get the word out about our future plans. If you haven't heard, we are going to be staying in the Bethlehem area for the near future. We will finish up at the House of Hope somewhere around June 20, return to the US for a month or two (Thanks Bishops) and then returning to start our new lives here. Here are some more details about what we will be doing.
The company that I (jason) will be working for is called Paidia International Development. It is an experiential learning organization that is focused on children and youth in the Bethlehem area (Check out the website for details on the organization). Our focus is the development of young people, focusing on social, moral, emotional, and metnal growth. We hope to use the model of Recreation-Education-Moblization to create change in this community by helping future community leaders.
My role will be quite large in this organization, as I will be one of two full time staff members (the other is the Director). My first focus will be developing curriculum and programs for the 7-13 year old age group. As we move toward our launch, I will also train local employees to facilitate, oversee the technical aspects of the climbing wall and (eventually) the high ropes course.
Within a year, the current director is hoping to relocate to the States to focus on development (fund raising) this will mean that I will become the director of the Middle East program, overseeing the entire operation in Bethlehem. So long as I prove my mettle in the next year.
This is an incredibly exciting opportunity, and it fits very nicely with many of the vision I have for the future. It will also give us an opportunity to stay in the area longer, thus allowing us further build relationships and share the gospel. Once Sarah and I have been able to process our thoughts on this front, we also want to share our ideas with you, for your comments and critiques.
In the two weeks that we spent seriously considering the idea of staying here. God opened up many opportunities for ministry. We met a man who has converted from Islam and who lives quite close to the House of Hope, already in the last month I felt like we have been able to become friends, and I hope to encourage he and other muslim converts who are unable to engage fully in the Christian community in Bethlehem for a variety of reasons.
About two weeks ago, the director of the choir that Sarah sings in offered her the use of 8 violins, some children sized, if there was some way she could use them. The day before, she had mentioned to me the idea of teaching music in one of the refugee camps that we had visited (and now have connections in, including a music teacher). The violins were going to be used to (get this) teach lessons to children in refugee camps, but the woman who had brought them was unable to stay in the country, and wanted them to be put to a good use. Don't know for sure that anything will come of this, but I wouldn't be surprised.
Basically, God is opening door after door in this area. Sarah and spent some time crying together last night, after I officially committed to the position at Paidia. Knowing that we miss and love all of you, but we are also incredibly excited to see what the future brings. Please keep us in your prayers.