Palestine (MNN) — In the city where Jesus was born, kids and families got a chance to celebrate this year. Bethlehem Bible College hosted its first Christmas Festival.
Hundreds of kids, teens, and adults attended. The 2-day celebration featured games, hymns, a nativity play, and even face-painting. Yousef Qumsieh says, “The whole reason for this is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the whole reason we celebrate. It’s not just the season, just because it’s that time of the year. There is a purpose for it. We also want to raise more awareness across the local community, that we exist as Bethlehem Bible college.”
“We’re here to spread the word of Jesus, and we want to do what we can to bring people back to Christ.”
The celebration continues through the Eastern Orthodox celebration of Christmas, which began on January 7. You can watch a video detailing all of the festivities here.
Christians leaving Bethlehem
Many Christians once lived in Bethlehem and throughout Palestine. But over the past few decades, many have left for better economic opportunities elsewhere. Qumsieh says, “Christians used to consist (just in the Holy Land) of about 33 percent of the population. And now it’s less than one percent.”
He asks readers to pray that Christians still living in Bethlehem and the rest of Palestine would remain. “Because they’ve been leaving at an alarming rate. And if it continues this way, we were afraid there will be no Christians left in the next 10 or 20 years.”
Qumsieh’s family left Palestine to live in the U.S. when he was young. But after graduating college, he decided to move back. He says, “Nobody does that. It’s always the opposite. Please pray for better living conditions in Palestine. Pray for better opportunities, and more importantly for people to keep their faith in what they’re doing.”
Pray the Church will always have a presence in the city where Jesus was born.
Header photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College.