More than 14,000 Nigerian Christians have arrived to Israel for the Christmas season, spotlighting growing ties between Israel and Nigeria.

Speaking at a sendoff ceremony last week at Nigeria’s Murtala Mohammed International Airport, John Kennedy Opara, the head of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission, said that the pilgrimage will be a “moral and spiritual transformation” for the Christian visitors, reported.

“Christmas is all about the celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ and you people are going to celebrate him in his own birth place. It is something that many people would love to celebrate in the Holy Land,” Opara said.

Last year, Israel and Nigeria inked a bilateral aviation deal during a visit to the Jewish state by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, providing for direct flights between the two countries and making it easier for Nigerian Christian pilgrims to travel to the Holy Land.

“This tour has revived our faith and I strongly believe that the experience will make us better Christians,’’ Ishaya Malaika, the executive secretary of the Bauchi State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday.

Another massive Nigerian Christian pilgrimage to Israel is being planned for Easter.