Overview: Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, was once home to a thriving Christian community and a central location for sending the gospel throughout the Holy Land. Due to years of political conflict and religious tensions, the Christian community (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) has declined from 92% in 1948 to less than 30% in 2008. Among all the Palestinians living in the Palestinian Occupied Territory (West Bank and Gaza) the Christian population is less than 2.5%.
In spite of overwhelming odds, churches and organizations working in the region continue to reach out to their Muslim and Christian neighbors. They are a light to the region through education, vocational training, afterschool programs, medical outreach, reconciliation and caring for the poor.
Population: 2.3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank (60,000 people live in Bethlehem)
Relationship: In April of 2008, a small team from Kensington visited Bethlehem and the surrounding areas to get a better understanding of if or how we could serve the Palestinians. It was an incredible journey as we were warmly welcomed by all the Palestinians we met. We found a vibrant Christian community, committed to being a voice of reconciliation to the region. During our time together, they shared with us how they longed for a relationship with Christians in the West and how we could work together to make a difference in the Holy Land.