At just 8 years old, Pastor Khader Khoury drew a picture of a church, and God shared with him that it would be a ministry “inside and outside” serving in various ways including education and outreach. Khader prayed for this vision throughout his life, and it was in Bethlehem that God began to bring this vision to life.
Khader arrived in Bethlehem in 2008 after leaving Gaza due to persecution. He started a small prayer group that began to grow and bless those in the area. It is also where he met his future wife, Ghadeer. When he was ordained as a pastor with IPHC, General Superintendent Bishop A.D. Beacham, Jr. himself ordained Khader.
Exodus 23:29-30 states, “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” For the next 12 years, Khader felt God preparing him for something more. This preparation matched his own vision as he is “always thinking about tomorrow.” In 2020, Khader’s small prayer group grew into Bethlehem IPHC.
At first, the church location was hopeless and needed a lot of renovation. Their ministries were also at a standstill due to the spiritual atmosphere. Parents and families were not interested, and Khader had to work hard to build a bridge within the community since a majority are Arab Muslims. First, they opened a small community center and garden, and by June 2022, 135 children were served each day. To stimulate interaction, the center was opened to the community at large and offered classes with IPHC and Muslim leaders, helping 200 families weekly. Their center has grown as well, now including a multi-story building, garden space, and outdoor play area. Pastor Khader says that his vision is only 50% complete though, and their current prayer is for additional land so they can expand their space and the resources they offer.
Their staff of 16 is a mix of IPHC and Muslim believers to encourage the community to start coming without pushing them too much. Their influence continues to impact the community as Khader’s facility has the most famous kindergarten in the area. Their school is a government model, and with half of the students being Muslim, they can make indirect connections. The school allows Khader and his team to “prepare the land so the message can be shared.” It is vital that the leaders know and keep the vision, so they continue to be “steward[s] for His glory and the next generation,” Khader shares.
Khader considers himself a tool to be used to build God’s kingdom. He is not afraid of the breakthroughs happening in Bethlehem. Instead, he prays to be taken to a new level so he and his church can be a blessing to the Persians and non-believers and to show the children in the community that they have a future. The Bethlehem IPHC is also a training center for all of the Middle East. Leaders are encouraged and leave with a vision to continue God’s work in their countries.
Throughout it all, Khader knew how important it was, and is, to remember that one must trust God, not oneself. He has used every experience, including one of his triplet son’s medical issues and an accident that almost took his life, as opportunities to share God’s message and break one’s fear of failure and of sharing. “Fear causes stagnancy. With no fear, nothing can stop us from going to heaven and being fruitful,” Khader declares.