On July 21, 2019, His Grace Bishop Paul presented an icon of “Christ the Good Shepherd” to the church school children of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago, IL. He purchased the icon during his recent trip to the Holy Land at Bethlehem New Store (BNS) in Bethlehem. BNS is a find wood carving place that creates all its items from olive wood. They make fine wood carvings of Christian images such as the Nativity, the Crucifixion and various other items. The icon itself was painted on carved olive wood.
The store is owned by brothers Saliba and Hanna Nissan who are Orthodox Christians committed to staying in Bethlehem. During the visit to the store, one of the brothers told the pilgrimage travelers that right after World War One, 80% of the population in Bethlehem was Orthodox; today that number is now 20%. The pilgrimage group was able to tour the store starting from the wood shop where the carvings are made, to the actual store itself which is quite impressive.
The icon will be hung in the church school classroom at Holy Trinity. May its presence there and prayers offered before it further encourage the children and teachers to grow closer to Jesus Christ and each other as they continue their Orthodox Christian formation at Holy Trinity.