When I first decided to go to Israel, I have to admit that I knew it would be a trip of a lifetime. As a daughter of a Baptist minister and as a Christian myself, I learned about the many stories of Jesus Christ throughout my upbringing. Even with all this background knowledge, I learned many new things while in Israel and Palestine.

Here are some myths that were debunked during my time in the Holy Land.

Myth 1: Jesus was born in a barn.

The common Christmas image is seeing Jesus in a manger surrounded by his parents, Mary and Joseph, who all are sitting in a barn. Yes, Jesus was born in a manger, but to my surprise it was not in the type of barn that we normally portray around Christmas time.

A picture from the temple above where we think Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

When I traveled to the Holy Land, I got the chance to see the place that we believe Jesus was born. As I walked to enter the temple that was built on top of where Jesus was born, I then discovered that Jesus was not born in what we consider to be a barn. He was actually born in a cave. This would be a place underneath where people would normally live. During Jesus time, there would be horses and and other animals that would stay in the cave.

Myth 2: Bethlehem is in Israel.

When going from Israel and traveling to Bethlehem that resides in Palestine, it was not what I expected. Both Israel and Palestine are divided by a wall that only people with certain credentials can pass through. Thinking that it would be lots of pomp and circumstance when going to the place of my Savior’s birth, I was surprised to find those in the military on almost every corner.

I am standing in Palestine looking at the wall that separates it from Israel.

Myth 3: There are many Christians in the Holy Land.

During my time there in the Holy Land I learned that there are not many Christians who live there. In the Holy Land only 12 percent of the population are Christians. When in Bethlehem, my church and I visited a Bible College who discussed the difficulties that come with Christians around the world not knowing this fact. They are in great need of financial and spiritual support because of the few Christians within this land.

Overall, my trip to the Holy Land was amazing! These are just a few myths that I had during my time there. Even though the trip was a few months ago, I find that I am still peeling back all the complexities that I encountered. By taking this trip, I can say that I have a better perspective of the life that Jesus lived.

Dr. Amber Robins is a board-certified family medicine doctor practicing in Arlington, VA, and graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She is a recent Health and Media fellow graduate from Georgetown University and PBS News Hour. She is the author and founder of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats” and “The Write Prescription: Finding the ‘Right’ Spiritual Dosage to Overcome Any Obstacle” with her own website and blog at www.DrAmberRobins.com.