History of Holy Land Ministries

Hebron’s first class, 1954
Bethlehem, 2016

Twin sisters Ida and Ada Stoltzfus arrived in Hebron in 1948. They came to help the needy, and the needs were great. For the first few years they helped many refugees by distributing food, clothing, and providing aid, as able. 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. From very simple and humble beginnings, 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.

With Ron and his wife J.J.’s leadership the school found new life. Many badly needed improvements and upgrades were made to the school. It was during this time that the school saw its biggest increase in enrollment and The Hebron School became an even more integral part in the lives of those who lived in Hebron.

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. Their unique gifting by God has been evident from the beginning. 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. God’s love is shown each and every day by our dedicated staff of Christian teachers.

With Ron and J.J. having spent nearly 30 years of their lives dedicated to the school, they felt it was time to look to the future and identify new leadership for the ministry. 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 first 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.