Bethlehem Christians Put Jesus Back in Christmas

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Bethlehem-born Pastor Steven Khoury has mounted a campaign to put Christ back in Christmas.

"Over the past 10 years I've been noticing less and less of Christ at Christmas and more and more of Santa Claus and snowmen right in the heart of Bethlehem," Khoury said in a video posted on YouTube.

Some local Christians say Jesus is almost not evident in the town of his birth. The video shows a car driving on the busiest street in Bethlehem with viewers seeing Santa and snowmen but not one sign of Jesus.

The situation prompted Khoury to launch the "Guess who's missing" campaign.

"I have people telling me Christmas is for everyone, Christmas is for everyone. Yes, everyone can celebrate Christmas, but you can't take Jesus out. Christmas is about Jesus and that's what's happening here," Khoury said.

"The purity of Christmas is that Jesus gave himself for us and surrendered it all for us and if we let that go, if nobody stands up and does something about it, then it will also become a routinely thing," he said.

Khoury put the Christmas message in English and Arabic on a giant billboard along the busiest street in Bethlehem.  It says simply "Jesus born to die and rose again. Invite him into your heart so you might live."

Persecution and financial struggles have driven many Christians out of the Bethlehem area. Over the last decades they've dropped from 80 percent to about 10 percent of the population.

**Originally aired December 19, 2012.

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