Elias Jabbour (left) and Awad Qumseya, Omaha-based sales representatives of Blest Art, meet with archdiocesan vicar general Father Gary Pennings at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. Blest Art has been authorized by the archdiocese to visit parishes and offer heirloom-quality, olive wood carvings made by Christians in the Holy Land. Sales of this art is one of the few sources of income for the shrinking Christian population.
Dating back to the 4th century A.D., native Christians of Palestine have used Olive Wood and mother-of-pearl materials to carve masterpieces of art to commemorate Jesus Christ, who once lived among them. More than ever, the Christians of the Holy Land are facing an eminent threat of extinction. The number of Christians in the Holy Land has reached an alarming level. Today, less than one hundred people in the Holy Land call themselves Christians. The remaining population is suffering economically, and every bit helps to create a new market for these remaining Christians.
Here at Blest Art, our mission is simple, to encourage growth in the diminishing population by ensuring these beautiful handcrafted pieces can reach you, right to your doorstep. We work closely with Catholic churches in the United States to preserve the presence of Christianity in the Holy Land and bring awareness to their mission. Wars and violence have affected tourist trade so greatly that for centuries, many of the Christians in the Holy Land have based their livelihoods on creating and distributing these crafts.
Jeryes Qumseya, owner of Blest Arts religious goods company of Beloit, Wis., is pictured in a May 20 photo. Qumseya, a native of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, said he is proud of work that artisans from the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society produce and sell through his company. (Joseph O’Brien, The Catholic Times)
The funds raised by Blest Art work predominately to serve as assistance to slow down the Christian emigration scheme. The work Blest Art has already done has given these people the faith and courage to stay in the Holy Land, as they are now able to support themselves and their families. In addition, the work we have done with the members of this community creates many new jobs for the Christian youth. We have also assisted several community programs, including schools, assisted living homes, churches and clinics.
Blest Art's work brings you the advantage of being able to reach out beyond your borders with uniquely, real, tangible and effective help. It is more than a hand-out as a collection plate would be, it is a hand-up for the Christians who want to live in peace and support their families with a centuries-old trade and way of life. Your support for these craftsmen and hard-working Christian artists helps to ensure a viable Christian presence in the land where the gospel was first preached.