Mirah (name changed) was born into a Christian family. But as she grew up and looked at the world around her, she began to ask herself, “Is this faith really worth it?”
As a Palestinian Christian, Mirah regularly witnesses the pain religion can cause. What’s more, many of the questions she had about her faith were going unanswered. All of this led her to renounce her faith in Christ. Mirah’s struggles are common among students at Jerusalem School Bethlehem, a Christian school that is located in a part of the world undergoing a long-standing conflict between Palestine and Israel. Only about 2 percent of the population are Christians.
Today, many of the young people in that 2 percent are asking the same tough question that Mirah is asking—is it worth it?
Kevin and Anna Kornelis, who serve at the K-12 school as missionaries with Resonate Global Mission (formerly Christian Reformed World Missions), help their Christian students wrestle with this question. Together with other staff, they offer more than 500 students a safe place to ask questions about the faith they grew up in but don’t always understand.
“Our students are counting the costs of what it means to be a Christian,” said Kevin Kornelis. “They believe in Jesus, but now they’re asking, Is it worth it?”
“A lot of the kids grew up learning that they don’t question their faith, they just believe,” said Anna. “We have to fight against that idea and help them see the difference that it makes to believe in Jesus.”
At the same time, Kevin and Anna are also sharing the gospel with the school’s roughly 30 percent Muslim population—and in turn, with the families of those students.
Kevin recalls one class period in which he spent much of the time engaged in conversation with one of the Muslim students, helping her understand the idea of grace.
“You could see the anguish in her eyes,” Kevin said, “an anguish that said, ‘I want to believe that, but it sounds too good to be true.’”
Mirah, a student in Kevin’s class this past school year, was finally able to ask many of the questions that had been on her mind.
“She always pushed back on the discussions in class, but in a respectful way,” said Kevin.
Despite renouncing the Christian faith for now, Mirah was one of the first students to volunteer to pray in class.
“I don’t know if I believe yet, but praying in the name of Jesus gives me comfort in this world,” she told Kevin.
While Mirah still has many questions about whether faith in Christ is really “worth it,”’ both Kevin and Anna say that’s an important part of her faith journey.
“Sometimes it takes pulling away for a while because ultimately it brings us a deeper faith when we begin to understand,” says Anna.