My Palestinian Christmas Star

After I hung the last ornament on our Christmas tree, I climbed the ladder and placed our hand-carved wooden star on top. That star has an entire creche scene carved into it. Dan and I bought it in Bethlehem. From a Christian Palestinian. Of whom there are many in the area. Or at least, there were.

I always assumed that Bethlehem was part of Israel. It is not. It’s a walled-in city, under firm control of the Palestinian Authority.

“It is hard, hard for us to live here,” the man who sold us the star lamented.  “We cannot get jobs. Our churches are firebombed, and our families harassed and threatened.  The Muslims want us out.”

Evidently, they are getting their way. For the past seven years, an estimated one thousand-plus Christians have been leaving annually. The Christian population, a 60% majority in 1990, slid to a 40% minority in 2000.  Today it stands at about 15%.  That means only 10,000 to 13,000 Christians remain.

The Palestinian Authority doesn’t have an official policy of persecuting Christians, but they surely haven’t done enough to provide security for them. The star seller wasn’t the only person we heard whispering complaints.  Families who have been Christian for generations are tolerated, but woe be to any Muslim who turns to Christ.

“Soon there will be no Christians left here,” the man who sold us the star said. “And who will care? Few Westerners even know we exist.”

We didn’t.  But of course, Christians have been in the Holy Land since. well, since the time of Christ!

“Don’t forget us,” the man said as he handed us our package.

We won’t.  Not ever.

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by…

Philip Brooks

 

About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. I love to write, and speak, about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, Japan and South Korea, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with John Newton, 17th century slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland. In West Africa I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall. I was struck dumb. From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Maybe you will choose to be a 21st century abolitionist too.
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4 Responses to My Palestinian Christmas Star

  1. Alice W. says:

    Kay;

    Every Christian everywhere should pray for “ALL CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE”, especially in the ‘Third World Countries’ daily and maybe several times daily, they surely need our prayers and help. Thanks for all you do for them and keeping us informed.
    Alice W.

  2. Jean Stewart says:

    My heart hurt as I read your account of the Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem and the story of your fantastic star. What a beautiful reminder of the meaning of this season. And how dreadful the battle still rages and there seems no chance of relief. Of course, we know God has a plan and all will be well, but it’s difficult to wait to see what it is, if we even live that long. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas, dear one, to you and Dan, and have a most blessed new year. And we’ll continue to pray for the people of the Holy Land.

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