EL PASO, Texas - The "Feast in the Middle East" has lots of fun, food, and music. But across the lot at St. George's Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church is a history, originating from the time Jesus Christ walked the earth.
"We go back to the Holy Land and to the start of the church of Christ's teachings. And we kept everything, the sacrifices of all the apostles," said Father George Al-Dehneh
Many of St. George's 125 families have ties to the Holy Land, the Middle East, specifically Syria, where the apostle Paul saw a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus. Many left their homeland, unable to go back to the birthplace of the Christian Church.
"With all the persecution that the church has through the years, we kept the writings and the teachings of the four gospels and Jesus Christ," Al-Dehneh said.
Father Al-dehneh declined to talk about the persecution, telling me the political situation is too sensitive for him to expound on. Violence by Muslim radicals against Christians have forced 60-70 percent of Christians to flee their home countries.
In Syria, more than a thousand have been killed and nearly half-a-million forced out.
Many can't find work, wear crosses or even name their children Christian names without threat. A member of St. George called it genocide, others say Christians in this region have been terrorized into near-extinction.
"There's very few Christians left because of all the things that have been happening out there," said the feast's Jean- Marc Salloum.
Salloum said Middle Eastern Christians here in El Paso are united, the feast in the middle east, just one of the ways their can take pride in their faith and heritage without fear of persecution.
"Unfortunately we only see a lot of bad news that relates to middle easternm" said Salloum. "We have a lot of culture, a lot of things that we'd like to share."