We were born and we lived in the very place where the story of salvation was unveiled. Where God’s redemption plan for the whole world unfolded.
Sadly growing up in a more of a nominal family I would say we took things for granted, yea Jesus was born here, yet Jesus was buried here and rose from here (which is literally 500 meters far from my parents house where I grew up). It never charged out excitement about the place.
But after I committed my life to Christ the importance of the places I live and “hangout” at makes big difference now. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, all of our country is the ground that God walked upon, it’s the water that he drank, it’s the earth that his blood was poured into. Such an amazing place, a breath taking wonder, where the divinity met humanity, and provided the ultimate solution for mankind’s horrendous downfall.
The land of the incarnation, which in Christmas time we always remember, what God did for humanity forever, a historic, yet real and living reality that changed the course of history. IT HAPPENED IN BETHLEHEM.
As I am serving now in Bethlehem, the city has a special place in my heart now, not just because my family from my father side for many generation they all come from Bethlehem, but because this city continue to be a witness for the Gospel.
In Christmas time, the city of Bethlehem becomes an open door for the Gospel, for sharing it, for claiming it and for a proclamation of Jesus’’ salvation that could reach to the end of the world. During Christmas season, numerous choirs from all over the world come to sing and proclaim Jesus’ love and peace to all humans. Satellite stations, radios, reporters, peoples all over the world see what happens in the manger square and listen to the message of the Gospel proclaimed. From the manger square the Truth of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem makes the people from all over the globe become part of the story.
In Christmas time, the city of Bethlehem presents the beauty of co-existence between it’s residents the Christians and the Muslims. Fellow Palestinians who celebrated Christmas together for a long time, after all Muslims here think highly of Jesus and believe wholeheartedly that he was born in Bethlehem. I saw a couple of examples that portrayed that fanaticism will not prevail amidst the Palestinian people. A week ago when my wife and I were doing some Christmas shopping, few ladies came into the shop which by the way they were dressed I knew they were not Christians, but they were doing Christmas shopping, one bought a tree, other bought some decoration for the house, I was curious enough to overhear them talking about them decorating their houses during Christmas season, including setting up a tree.
The other instance happened three days ago, but this was more in Jerusalem, where a huge crowd of people, men and women, all dressed in Santa Clause suits where marching through the old city, singing in Arabic Jingle bells and passing out chocolates to everyone around including foreigners and Jews. At first glance people might think that these guys are Christians, but surprisingly enough, most of them were not.
Of course, for some this might mean nothing in terms of the proclamation of the Gospel, as to say what does Santa has to do with salvation? Or the Christmas tree with Jesus?
What I am hinting at is, that people at Christmas time, regardless of their background would want to hear the True message of Christmas, and there is readiness within them to do so.
In Christmas time, Bethlehem becomes a hub of Christmas outreach parties. During this month, I participated in few parties where literally hundreds and hundreds of people were part of, the message of the Gospel was presented very clearly, an invitation to receive Christ as savior was offered and great number of people did take that step to follow Christ. It was amazing, it was awesome, at Christmas time people give their lives to Christ in Bethlehem probably triple the number of people that do so in the whole year.
At Christmas time we have an open gate to share Jesus in Bethlehem, so we ask Christians from all over the globe to pray for a continuation of these opportunities. In this area in Christmas time there is enough liberty to do so,
- The believers here will continue to be a real representation of the Gospel.
- There will be a continuation of this open gate along the years to come
- That the Lord will continue to build his church in Bethlehem and the Kingdom will continue to advance among the Palestinians
- The Lord will continue to bless the genuine ministries that are doing the work of the Kingdom.
- For the peace of Bethlehem.
- That Christmas will continue to be a season of Joy to my people