History of Holy Land Ministries

Hebron’s first class, 1954
Bethlehem, 2016

Twin sisters Ida and Ada Stoltzfus arrived in Hebron in 1948.  It wasn’t long before they focused on the needs of the children, whos plight in this stricken land was particularly heart rending. That led to establishing one of the first orphanages in the area.

In 1954 they expanded the ministry and opened a school. The school would grow from its initial kindergarten class of 13 students to approximately 300 students today, serving children in Kindergarten through 6th grade.

They lost their original funding in the sixties and had a difficult choice to make. Follow a new assignment by Mennonite Central Committee or stay with the school and become independent. They chose to stay with the school and continue ministering to their Muslim students. After a number of very lean and challenging years they met Ron and J.J. Armstrong, in 1982. Ron had just formed Holy Land Ministries, and was looking for a school to help. The relationship between Ron and the sisters grew and HLM eventually accepted control of the school.

While Ron and J.J. continued their efforts to support the school from here in the states, in 1999 Gregg and Rawda Doolittle became the on-site school directors. Gregg and Rawda’s efforts have resulted in continued improvements in the quality of education, as well as a continuation of presenting God’s truth through morning Chapel meetings.

David and Lois Garrison joined HLM in 2010, and transitioned into that leadership role. David’s business background and Lois’ heart for children and teachers have made them a good fit for being with Holy Land Ministries as it seeks to strengthen and expand its role of ministry in Palestine.

In 2010, the Lord saw fit to combine Gregg & Rawda’s vision for a new school with the involvement of a major donor from the U.S. to allow us to embark on the building of a brand new school in Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Academy. The doors opened in 2014 to both Muslim and Christian students. We are the only school in the region to use an American Christian curriculum combined with both English and Arabic classes, a combination that we believe will make it possible to train up a new generation of leaders for the West Bank that stay home and lead with true Biblical wisdom.

Receive the latest news

Signup to Receive Our Newsletter

Please provide the following contact information if you would like to be included on our mailing list. We send out 3 or 4 mailings a year. Thanks for your interest in being fully informed, praying more effectively, and/or partnering with us financially.


This young lady has overcome many challenges in her young life, including her mother having been through the ordeal of fighting cancer. With that, and other family issues to deal with, Joelle often felt a bit adrift in school. She didn’t quite know where she fit in, struggled with grades, and had trouble finding friends. Early high school was hard. With the help of some kind teachers, and lots of hard work, Joelle found her stride as a junior. She discovered a love of art and literature, and excelled at both. She hopes to become an author someday, or be involved in the film industry. Joelle was one of Bethlehem Academy’s first graduates, and did very well taking her CLEP exams her senior year. She’s an excellent example of a student who left BEA with a great deal of hope for a productive and gratifying future in her post BEA years.


Hamza dealt with a blow that is hard to imagine for many of us; his father was killed in a workplace accident. Rather than tell him the truth, his family told him that his father had gone abroad for a job opportunity. He is an inquisitive kid and it wasn’t long before he knew something was not right. After persistent questioning, his family finally told him the truth. The loss of his father, along with the deception, caused a downward spiral in his grades and behavior at school. The school administration along with the entire staff poured themselves into this young man’s life and he began to slowly recover from his loss. Hamza still misses his father every day, but with his friends and teachers encouragement he is beginning to find his smile again.  


Ziyad joined us in kindergarten, and was a normal, happy boy. His life got challenging though when his mother was diagnosed with some severe mental health issues, fighting a battle with anxiety and depression. Life at home became a challenge. She got the help she needed, but it was hard on Ziyad. Our teaching staff was aware of this situation and came along side to love and encourage him as much as they could. With their extra care and attention, he was able to cope successfully with this situation. Ziyad is now doing well and is actively developing a newfound love for art. He has also developed many close relationships with his classmates. (We understand his mother is doing much better as well.)