Pastor Steven Khoury of Holy Land Missions:
"In the birthplace of Christianity, we have seen over the years that the Christmas holiday has been reduced to snowmen and bells...The essential message of the holiday season has been taken away for fear of what the dominant religious factors in Bethlehem would say."
In answer to this conundrum, Pastor Khoury decided to take action and erected a large Christmas billboard at the main street entrance to Manger Square that declares in English and Arabic:
Jesus born to die and rose again. Invite him into your heart so you might live~Merry Christmas
By 20 December, the electric cable around the sign had been cut by vandals to ensure that it would not be lit up during the night. Nobody in the area of the billboard will sell access to electricity for fear of repercussions. The municipality has informed Pastor Khoury of the outcry and campaign by the (Majority Muslim) community to have the sign removed.
Jesus and his message have been lost
in the city that God chose for him to come into this world...Pastor Steven Khoury
Once a mainly Christian city, Bethlehem is now Muslim and the dwindling Christian community has been reduced to an estimated 3% of the total population. Tourists (and the money they bring) are welcome but Jesus is not.
Bethlehem is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Israel does Not restrict tourists and in fact, this Christmas, the Jerusalem Municipality provided free transportation to tourists going to Bethlehem (Jews Not Allowed). In the Old City of Jerusalem, like in past years, free Christmas Trees were handed out.
Pastor Khoury has been going out with a portable generator and several high beam spotlights and lighting the sign up himself. Anticipating that the sign might be coming down any time, Khoury quickly put together this film next to the billboard sign. Have any major media outlets, anywhere in the world even mentioned this??
During this Holy season, please pray for Pastor Steven Khoury and the Christians of Bethlehem...
Tourists (and their Money) are Welcome~Jesus, Not so Much...
This is Pastor Khoury's Video from the Beginning of the Month