As Christmas approaches Jesus is the King Church in Nazareth is boldly reminding the city that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”
“We put it in the center of Nazareth where there is a TV screen and on this screen it says, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ (in Arabic and English) for one month,” Saleem Shalash, pastor of Jesus the King Church in Nazareth, told KNI.
Not only locals, but tourists from around the country and abroad will get the message since Nazareth is one of the Holy Land meccas during the Christmas season. Once the hometown of Yeshua, today the Galilean city is Israel’s largest Arab city.
So far the screen is getting positive responses especially from local Christians which include Catholics and Orthodox, Shalash said.
“It’s good to be reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season,” he said. “That it’s not Santa Claus or a tree or the food. People are interested to hear more.”
The church holds biannual outreaches in its community — to both Arabs and Jews —and is in full swing now with new projects during this holiday season.
The outreaches include distributing 1,000 packages of Christmas chocolates to local children with a magnet that reminds “Jesus is the Reason.” The church will also distribute some 140 food packages to families in need, both through home visits and at the church. The list of recipients is made in conjunction with the municipal welfare office.
Shalash said the through the outreach, “we are trying to show Jesus in our actions.”
“Through these people, we can reach their families, their children and they become interested in what we are doing and they have a lot of questions all the time,” Shalash said.
One woman who is Jewish insisted that the Messiah hasn’t yet come.
“Yes he has and it as mentioned in Isaiah 53… talking about Jesus himself no one else,” Shalash explained to her using several scriptures from the Old Testament. “She was so interested and after more than one visit she accepted Jesus as her savior.”
“The Bible teaches us to be a light for the Jews, to make them jealous,” Shalash said. “We need to be light in these days and it is not easy to be light.”
The church also prints and gives out calendars for the new year providing daily reminders of God’s love and scriptures on every page.
Despite a 75 percent Muslim population, Nazareth is famous for its Christmas celebrations. The city is festively decorated for the holidays, hosts a bustling Christmas market and organizes a parade on Christmas Eve. There is a midnight mass at the Church of the Annunciation on Dec. 25.
Congregants of Jesus is the King Church will hand out the Christmas chocolate while marching in the parade wearing t-shirts with the church name.
Christians comprise about 1 percent of Israel’s population. Most are Greek Orthodox and Catholic, but among them are a growing number of believers who are vocal about their faith and extremely evangelistic.
“We want to do as much as we can for outreach,” Shalash said. “It is time to work, so we are ready.”