Christmas for Refugees program in the Holy Land
Holy Land?: Most American Christians think of Israel when the “Holy Land” is mentioned. On our last mission to the Middle East my wife, Nancy, and I visited Sidon and Tyre which are mentioned in Matthew 15:21 as places visited by Jesus. Both cities are in Lebanon.
Often when I am in Jordan, I visit Mount Nebo in Jordan from which Moses glimpsed the Promised Land. (Numbers 27:12) It is very emotional to stand where Moses once stood.
The areas in the Middle East where the Christmas for Refugees programs are held are the same places visited by the Apostles of Jesus. Once I stood at the place in Corinth where Saint Paul stood to be judged.
The “Holy Land,” The birthplace of Christianity is not just Bethlehem and Jerusalem but many other locations where the Lord and his Apostles ministered.
My heart really goes out to the Christians of the part of the Holy Land that is now called the “West Bank.” The Christian community established in and around Bethlehem for the last 2,000 years was abandoned to Muslim control by the 1993 Oslo Accord agreed to by the United States and Israel. It may remain that way until the return of the Lord.
Christmas events in two West Bank towns
Bethlehem and Beit Sahour Christmas: After several Christmas events for the children in Jordan, I and my wife Nancy drove down into the Jordan Valley to cross over the Allenby Bridge to the West Bank.
Israel controls the border; however, it is not officially part of Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel, has announced that he will annex the entire West Bank if reelected.
The leader of the Jordanian partner ministry came with us to the West Bank as he has some family there and has done ministry work there in the past.
Last year we rented a large hall for just one event. This year we moved the program to Christian school common areas which allowed us to produce much more organized events. The Christmas events were held in two different schools.
The center piece of our Christmas events in the two towns was a Christian theater ministry we hired that puts on Christian plays explaining the Gospel story using modern themes in a combination of puppet and live actors. The theater ministry tours in several countries including Jordan and Lebanon. We were fortunate to be able to book them for Christmas.
Our programs also had the traditional Christmas hymns, games and coloring contests as well. Next month when I send out the annual receipts for donations, I will send a sample of the coloring the children did of a Nativity scene.
Please pray for the Christians of the West bank, particularly the children. As far as Israel is concerned, they are Palestinians and not welcome in Israel. They are unwanted by the Muslims that control the West Bank and unwanted by Israel. They are literally refugees in the land where their families lived long before the time Jesus was born there.
Some of these families literally have homes built on top of the caves their ancestors lived in thousands of years ago. That is a hard concept for Americans who live in a nation just a few hundred years old to understand. Since the time of the first Arab Muslim invasion the Christians have suffered persecution.
Because they are considered Palestinians they are not welcome in the United States. The people of the area are for the most part not Arabs, but a distinct people just as are those living in Jordan and Syria.
William J. Murray, President