Coronavirus Test Results Return Negative for Alabama Pastor and Church Members Held in Israel

Pastor Chris Bell and 12 members of his congregation, 3Circle Church based in Fairhope, Ala., are on lockdown in a hotel near Bethlehem, Israel, awaiting their results of COVID-19 tests after a hotel guest tested positive. Photo by Chris Bell

BETHLEHEM, Israel (BP) — Test results for the new coronavirus (COVID-19) are negative for pastor Chris Bell and 12 members of his church on lockdown at a Bethlehem area hotel, he told Baptist Press Monday (March 9).

But Bell was not certain Monday morning when he and other members of 3Circle Church based in Fairhope, Ala., would be able to return home.

“We tested completely clear for the virus. We’ve been medically cleared,” he told BP. “We are hopeful to be released because of that.”

In a post on the 3Circle Church Facebook page, Bell said, “Our team is very hopeful to be released soon, however details and timelines are not confirmed. Please continue to pray!”

The 13 had been quarantined since March 5 in their rooms at the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala after a hotel resident tested positive for COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.

Bell, church staff members and wives arrived in Bethlehem the night of March 2 for a tour of the Holy Land, just days before their ordeal began. Bell has said he believes God will use the experience for good.

“It is impossible for me to believe that God does not have a plan for this,” Bell told BP March 6, “because how in the world could we end up in the hotel where the epicenter of this thing takes place?

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Source: Baptist Press