Christians Gather at Site of Jesus’ Baptism, Despite Threat of Landmines
Veronica NeffingerReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2017 Jan 19
Christians flocked to the banks of the Jordan River on Wednesday, braving the possibility of landmines, to celebrate Epiphany.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Qasr al-Yahud on the West Bank is thought to be the historical site of Jesus’ baptism.
The riverbank in this area was a war zone before Israel and Jordan made peace in 1994. Years after the war, landmines remain hidden near the Jordan’s banks.
Many Christian pilgrims, however, believe it is worth it to celebrate the holiday of Epiphany, which marks when the Magi visited Jesus, at this holy site.
"It is great that we are able to reach here despite checkpoints and all the difficulties we faced," said one pilgrim, Marlyin Khalil, who came from Ramallah.
Both Israel and Jordan have created sacred sites marking the spot on each side of the Jordan River.
"The baptism site is the third holiest site for the Christian world. It has been mined back in the late 70s and for the last almost 50 years this area is declared as a closed military area and there is no access to the public and to pilgrims to come to pray and practice as they used to do," Halo's West Bank project manager Ronen Shimoni told Reuters.
Now, however, there are even a number of churches built in the area to accommodate visitors.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 19, 2017