BEIT SAHUR, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — Elias lives in the Christian-majority town of Beit Sahur, close to Bethlehem. He shares why, even though the number of Christians in the area is declining, he and his family are determined to stay.
“It’s a gift from God that we are living here. My house is five minutes away from the shepherds’ fields. And also, it’s the same – we are very close to the Nativity Church.”
Elias lives in the Christian-majority town of Beit Sahur near Bethlehem. But in the Palestinian territories as a whole the number of Christians is declining.
“Each year many families traveled outside to America also. We are now, in all Palestinian, we are 1% – in all Palestine. And each year I think we are getting less. Christian families leave the country for many reasons. The most reasons I think are the future. They are getting afraid about how will be our future here because here the economic situation is very bad – really especially now from Coronavirus.
“The political situation in Israel also is very difficult – also here. It has also pushed many families to leave the country and to go outside.”
But Elias has chosen to stay in Beit Sahur with his young family, despite his concerns.
“I am worried a lot about the future of my children. Many times I spoke with my wife if we still did the right decision to stay here or maybe we have to go outside – for our children. But also my wife has the same thinking as I have: that here is, you know, our place, here we are as Christians. It’s the best place for our children. I think if all the Christian families will leave the country here, who will stay? I know the situation is difficult and I can understand the families who leave here.
“But if we are leaving here, I think only the stones will stay here. And I don’t believe that the church is the only stones here. The church are the people, the community. We are the church. So if we leave here, there will be no more Christian church. How you show faith to others: this is the church.”
So Elias and his wife Dan are committed to being the lives stones of the church and to bringing up their children to discover the Christian faith for themselves.
“To raise a child is not easy – really! It’s a big mission to raise a child. But it’s also more challenging to raise him as a Christian. So we put them in Sunday school. They are learning small issues about the Christian faith. Also in our house we try to show them what it means to be a Christian. I will not say I am a hero but we are trying to do what we can, you know.
“I wish that the Christian life will be better here the situation will be better and my children can stay here and live here as Christians.”
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Source: Global News Alliance, Elias Chooses to Stay in Palestinian Territories