Christians across the US have made financial contributions to renovate a historic church in the West Bank. This specific landmark holds extreme significance because it is the alleged birthplace of Jesus Christ. Located below the primary altar in the church is an underground area called the Grotto of the Nativity. The exact location of the Lord’s birth is indicated with a silver star embodied in the marble flooring.

In 2012, The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem had officially titled a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. The church is also a renowned attraction for Christian tourists visiting the Holy Land. Unfortunately, the holy site was priorly deemed “in danger” because of poor conservation conditions, but the hazard was revoked in 2019.

The church’s construction reached completion in 565 and hasn’t been significantly refurbished since 1480, bringing it to the brink of collapsing. Recently, major remodeling was done to the property, such as repairs to the doors, facades, roof, and so much more. This phenomenal transformation was possible because of God’s mercy and all of the wonderful individuals around the world who donated money to the cause.

“The Church of the Nativity is a treasure of history and faith,” Mazen Karam, CEO of the Bethlehem Development Foundation (BFD), shared in an interview. “We’ve made great progress and look forward to completing the work to return this treasure back to the world.”

In 2018, the BDF started a nonprofit corporation called the American Friends of the Bethlehem Foundation (AFBDF). The two philanthropic organizations combined have acquired around $30 million that went to causes in the Bethlehem area. Church redevelopment has cost a total of $15 million so far. AFBDF and BDF have already raised 17 percent of that sum.

AFBDF President George Salem expressed his excitement and gratitude for the project’s current progress. “Christians in the United States have an enthusiastic love for the Holy City of Bethlehem,” Salem stated. “We are thrilled by the outpouring of support from our American friends and their commitment to help revitalize the Church of the Nativity.”

The list of repairs of the church is extensive but well worth the time, effort, and money. The two nonprofit organizations have not backed away from the challenge but have embraced the journey with optimism and determination.

“We are committed to restoring the Nativity Church to its former glory,” BDF’s board of trustees’ chairman Samer Khoury declared. “But our commitment to Bethlehem is so much more; we’re targeting sustainable initiatives and community projects, hoping to restore some peace, love and joy to the people of Bethlehem.”

Everyone involved in this restoration project is an inspiration. The generosity of the worldwide donors amid an economic crisis in a pandemic is incredible. The two philanthropic organizations’ determination and excitement to honor this holy site are remarkable.

More from Beliefnet and our partners