CBN Banquet Offers Bethlehem Christians Hope

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BETHLEHEM Israel -- Many residents of Bethlehem face serious hardship, especially during the Christmas season.

In response, the Christian Broadcasting Network will again be hosting its annual Christmas banquet in the tiny town of Jesus' birth.

Last year's festivities, held at the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, was made possible through the gifts of CBN partners.

"CBN saw the need, saw the importance of investing in the city of Bethlehem once again -- not only in the city where Christianity has not only dwindled, but in a place where Christianity is continuously dwindling," First Baptist Assistant Pastor Steve Khoury recalled.

Christians living in Bethlehem face difficult times. Many have left. In fact, one expert studying current trends predicts Christians could disappear from the cradle of Christianity in 10 to 15 years.

"On the ground for Christians in Bethlehem right now, there's a great atmosphere of excitement; there's a great decorations and what comes with the theme of Christmas," Khoury told CBN News.

"But I know if you look deep within their hearts, I know many people have fear and doubt in the unknown and the unseen," he added.

The annual banquet provides encouragement and hope to a beleaguered people.
 
"This Christmas we're going to be doing several things," Khoury explained. "We're feeding them; we're giving food baskets; we're of course going to be giving them gifts for the children and for the adults."

"And of course, we're going to be sending vans, taxis, busses to all towns and villages and bringing them into the city of Bethlehem just to remind them again that they are not alone," he said.
 
In the midst of difficult times, the Christmas outreach this year will also include a food distribution to needy families in Bethlehem and surrounding towns.  

"That's what the message that we're trying to give people in the city of Bethlehem and Christians throughout the Holy Land," Khoury told CBN News.

"The message we're giving them is that hope is built on the true Solid Rock and that's the birth of Christ, which is the greatest miracle, I think, in the history of mankind," he added.

"And not only that but also that hope is based on Him and it's a hope that will never fail us," Khoury said.

--Originally aired on December 16, 2011.

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