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We are John and Ann Miesen from Springfield, Minnesota. We moved here in 1986 and are happy to call Springfield our home. We have been married since 1983 and are blessed with two children Jacob and Andrea. Rural Minnesota has been a wonderful place to raise our family.

Selling Olivewood to support several Christian families living in the Holy Land has been a family passion for years. It all started after receiving an Olivewood piece for Christmas in 2004. This gift we received came from my sister whose good friend spent an extended period of time in the Holy Land on numerous occasions. We contacted her and learned of the many oppressed living in Bethlehem. It was easy to recognize her heartfelt compassion towards the Christian Artists in Bethlehem. Through her friendship, education and strong desire, we continue to share a passion she ignited.

John and I researched the Middle East conflict as much as we could. The more we learned, the more questions we had regarding the restrictions imposed on the Christian Palestinians living in the West Bank Area. We continue to study this region filled with political and religious tension. The situation is a very complicated one, riddled with political conflict that has been ongoing for thousands of years.

In October of 2005, John and I, along with our son Jacob went to Chicago to attend a Sabeel Peace Conference. Sabeel is Arabic for “The Way” or “Spring” of life giving water. Sabeel is an ecumenical movement inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Sabeel strives to develop a spirituality, based on justice, peace, non-violence and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities.

At this Sabeel Conference, we met a peace activist and Christian Artist from Bethlehem. He and his family have carved for many years in Bethlehem and are among the many oppressed and persecuted. They carry on the tradition of olivewood craftsmanship, which has been handed down from generation to generation. Because of the military check points and the imprisonment wall around the West Bank, it is extremely difficult to travel into the Bethlehem area. The lack of tourism makes it very difficult for our talented Christian Brothers to sell their masterpieces, and support their families.

I have recently traveled to the Holy land and experienced the difficulty getting into Bethlehem. It was a terrifying experience not to make it past the military check points and being so close to a young Israeli soldier with a machine gun.

God has been good to us and we want to share with others. We decided to sell these beautiful olivewood masterpieces at Churches and Christian Festivals and donate a percentage of all sales. In addition to helping churches of all denominations and youth groups, we also support food for the Hungry, a Christian organization whose target is to help the poor all over the world, CFCA Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, and several other local charities.

By purchasing Olivewood from Christian men in Bethlehem, we are helping to provide for their immediate and extended family needs. One of the many benefits of this mission is the on going friendships we have developed with our artists. They are truly grateful for this avenue that leads so many to share their Olivewood Artwork, appreciate their talent, and inspire many in their walk with Christ.

This passion and mission has been a wonderful blessing from God. We have been encouraged by many incredibly good people and touched by many heartfelt testimonies. Our wish for you is that you share our Artists spirit for Hope and Peace. Our prayer is that you also pray for the persecuted in the Holy Land. We ask for continued prayers for all the inhabitants of the Holy Land so that peace will be achieved and the way for reconciliation will be opened. We are reminded of the words of the Latin American theologian, Leonardo Boff: “If you want to serve the true God, we must break out of the circle of self-absorption and pay heed to the bloodied faces of our fellow human beings. If we do not share life with the oppressed, we do not share life with God.”

God Bless You ALL!

John, Ann, Jacob and Andrea Miesen

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