Just prior to Christmas, a powerful snow storm struck Bethlehem, in the West Bank of the Holy Land. As a result, runoff fell down the walls of the Church of the Nativity, built over what many consider the traditional birthplace of Jesus. What looked like a tragedy in the making turned out instead to become “what some are calling the biggest miracle in Bethlehem since the birth of Jesus.”
The great historical churches responsible for this sacred space, the Latin (Roman Catholic), Greek Orthodox, and Apostolic Armenian churches put aside ages of tensions and strife so as to collaborate on the restoration efforts that now are currently underway.
(Photo: Nasser Nasser, AP)
Additional interfaith beauty seen in this wonderful effort can be traced to the efforts of the Palestinian Authority. In 2012, the PA persuaded the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to name the church an “endangered” world heritage site. This foresight and care contributed greatly to making cooperation among the three churches more feasible.
This story closely relates to the twin-missions of IRFWP. IRFWP urges deeper and more substantial collaboration among religions and believers on the one hand, and urges greater integration among political, social, and cultural institutions with irenic religious leaders and visionaries, on the other.
We pray for many more examples like this, and we pray for great success for those involved in this important restoration.