The dire situation in Gaza and the West Bank is rightfully in the spotlight, but for Biola University alumna, Bethany Harper (’20), her eyes were opened prior to the events of October 7 to the need for specialty healthcare in the region. On a trip to Israel with a church group in 2019, the nursing alumna learned about Shevet Achim, an Israel-based nonprofit ministry that provides lifesaving heart surgeries to children who might not have access to them in Gaza, the West Bank, Northern Iraq and Syria. Still a student at the time, Harper felt a call and desire to work with the ministry once she graduated.

Image shows Bethany Harper
Bethany Harper is currently serving children in need of lifesaving healthcare in Israel

Prepared to head to Israel in the spring of 2020, Harper’s trip was halted by the pandemic, but she is even more prepared to go now. She left to live in Israel in early February 2024.

“With the state of the current war going on, they need help more than ever so I felt God calling me to go now and help out when they need it the most,” said Harper. “The Lord has really trained me and prepared me for this time. I have some experience already in nursing, so I'm excited to go now.”

While she is serving with Shevet Achim, Harper will be housed with the families of the children in need of care. The organization mainly helps take care of children in need of congenital heart surgery, and not only prepares them for the surgery, but any other care they might need while they are in Israel — dental work, doctor’s appointments and more, while also housing, feeding and transporting them. Harper will be with the families through the entire process.

“I like to care for people and their physical needs and then in that way also care for their spiritual needs and be able to minister to them in that way,” said Harper. “Nursing gives you the opportunity to meet people at their most vulnerable and care for them in really practical ways. That's also the goal of the ministry, which is why it's incredible I get to work with them. Their goal is to save lives first, and then you share the Christian faith alongside that.”

Harper explained that her experience at Biola left her well equipped for this opportunity. Not only was she a nursing student, but a student athlete on the women’s swim team and in the Torrey Honors College. Entering into a completely different culture than that of America, Harper recognizes the importance of having a broad understanding of the world and cultures.

“[Torrey Honors] gave me a very broad knowledge of the world and through going through all the historical books, it gave me a very wide knowledge on things like philosophy, history, literature, poetry, all these different areas that I felt like put me many steps ahead of my peers just as far as how the world works,” said Harper.

But having the opportunity to care for another human being no matter their background or beliefs is what excites Harper.

“Nursing [classes] taught us to view our patients with dignity and respect, looking at them as image bearers of God and to treat every person the same no matter their race or sexual identity or culture or history,” said Harper. “We were able to go into something called cultural competency where it's meeting the patient where they're at culturally and honoring their cultural heritage and going from there.”

To put it in perspective, Harper explained that she will be surrounded by multiple different cultures and religions in the places she’ll be every day.

“I'm very excited to be working with many different peoples and cultures. Many of the children and families coming speak Arabic and are Muslim, and then the people in the hospital are mostly Jewish and Israeli. And then [Shevet Achim] is a Christian organization. So it's a really incredible way that this ministry can be a bridge between these communities that for so long have been fighting and having conflicts,” said Harper.

Harper left for Israel in early February, but might not see home for a while.

“I'm hoping to go for at least three months and then kind of see what God would lead me to do after that,” said Harper. “Right now, I have a one-way ticket.”

Learn more about the Biola Nursing program by visiting the website. Learn more about the Torrey Honors College by visiting the website.

Written by Sarah Dougher, media relations specialist. For more information, please contact