Keep Christ in Christmas and all year round

Campaign Created by: icon greetings
The funds from this campaign will be received by Cyril Philip.

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Goal : $7,770

Raised : $301

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Here's wishing a blessed Christmas and Nativity season as well as a Happy New Year to everyone on GiveSendGo!

(For those who want a quick summary, just read the first paragraph and watch the video :) )

This all started a little more than a year ago, around November 2019. I was looking for a Christmas card for my spiritual father and pastor. He is a wonderful man who is kind and caring and who always keeps Christ first. Christmas means a lot to him and to me too. I wanted to get him a special Christmas card celebrating Christ's birth but I just couldn't find one anywhere. There were hundreds of Christmas cards at every store and online too. Only a few of them had a scene from the Nativity on the front. Even fewer had any mention of the name of Jesus, much less a verse from the Bible or anything inspirational. In fact, there weren't many general, religious Christian themed cards at all. That's what I want to change.

Have you, as well, ever noticed that Christ is missing from Christmas more than ever? People are just saying Happy Holidays more now. At the mall, at the doctor's office or anywhere public, it's always Happy Holidays. Christmas sales and products are saying Happy Holidays but there's no Christ anywhere. There are lots of decorations in red, and green and good cheer all around - it’s all colorful and lively and that’s great! It's just that the cheer for the birth of Christ is difficult to find or share.

It's not just retail establishments or corporate media. More greet each other with Happy Holidays now. I get it. It's safer and more secular. However, for religious Christians, it's different. They too look forward to family, fun, shopping, and everything else that comes with Christmas. Yet it's still the day that Christ, our Lord and Savior, Immanuel, was born. Christ is always the main reason for us but he's missing.

A lot of this is because the big retailers and businesses are selling very few religious Christmas greeting cards. By making Christmas an all-purpose holiday for everyone, sales will go up a lot more. The people for whom it really matters aren't around in large enough numbers or so they think, perhaps :)

Over this last year, this thought just wouldn't go away. I was looking forward to Christmas as always but Christmastime was on my thoughts more than ever this year. A few months ago, I bought a beautiful icon - a work of religious art that expresses the truths of the Bible and brings people closer to God by reminding them of a particular theme or story and its deeper meaning.

My icon was an Armenian-style icon and a copy of one from the middle ages. Back then, most people couldn't read so those who made icons learned to express the meaning of all that was holy and good in their work. Everyone, rich and poor, including those who couldn't read, looked at icons and drew closer to God. A single icon didn't just represent a single scene from a story, parable, or event. They were full of symbols that were shorthand for the rest of the story.

For the people who were receiving Christ's message, even if nothing else made sense, they could now make sense of God's love for them. By viewing icons, they could understand the message of the Bible, Christ's teachings, and the meaning of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection. They could also teach their children about Jesus and all about his life and stories from the Bible with the help of the scenes depicted on the icons.

If nothing else, my new icon was gorgeous art. Yet it was also full of spiritual meaning. Looking at it every day, I wished that Christmas cards would look as beautiful. I wished that Christmas Cards would convey the joy and glory of Christ's birth. I wished that they would be as spiritually uplifting. I wished that I could give those kinds of cards to people, to my priest, to my family, to all my friends to show them how magnificent Christmas really was.

It wouldn't stop. The thought had got into my head. It wouldn't leave. I started looking up icons and learning more about them. It was amazing how icons so beautifully portrayed so much of the Bible and so many of Christ's teachings throughout the centuries from England to India. They were so full of meaning and yet they were so easy to understand.

I realized that my icon or another icon depicting the Nativity would be perfect for a Christmas card. Put in the right Bible verses and Christian poetry and hymns and voila! It would be the perfect Christmas card that wouldn't stop giving. Every person and every child looking at one would remember the meaning of Christ's birth. They would remember what Christ meant in their lives.

In fact, I believed they could take to heart a lot more. I began to think that it would be possible to make greeting cards using icon art using stories from the Bible for every kind of event and occasion. That’s when my wish to create Christian themed greeting cards really took shape.
I worked on a business plan and project plan. However, other priorities took over and I couldn’t move ahead.

One day though, something happened that gave me a push. News broke about the war that the Armenians were suffering. I saw a heartbreaking BBC video on YouTube of women, children, and old men huddled in the basement of a church for safety and praying. The war concluded with many people dead, families displaced from their homes, and churches destroyed. Things will take years to recover. They need all the support that they can get.

I had only ever met a few Armenians. However, I knew that Armenia was the First Nation to accept Christianity. They had defended their Christian faith against attacks by Mongols, Turks, Arabs, and Persians for hundreds of years. They also survived a terrible genocide a century ago.

It seemed terrible that no one was helping the suffering Armenians fighting alone. I on the other hand felt blessed just looking at my beautiful Armenian-style icon every day. I reached out to the terrific artist, Ronnie Cruwys who wrote/painted my icon, about printing cards with the icon to raise money for war relief. She said go for it. We agreed that it would be a great idea to make Christmas cards using the Armenian Nativity icon and donate all the profits to help.

Even then, I wasn't sure of getting things done in time for Christmas or making Christian-themed cards for other occasions. Everything from incorporating a company to getting a website, to making enough cards to getting the word out was a lot to do. It would also be a lot of money, especially during the pandemic.

I didn’t want to do a halfhearted job. I wanted to make create inspiring, products that Christians would find joy in sending to people they care for and spread the message of faith, hope, peace, love, and goodwill to all mankind.

That’s where Givesendgo comes in. Givesendgo is dedicated to Christians. That’s why I think this campaign must begin here and today. Rather than first raise funds through any other platform, it seemed to make sense to try Givesetgo.

The money would go to business expenses and commissioning at least four icons with Christian themes for St. Valentine’s Day Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter - we have a few concepts ready for each of these. Icons can cost thousands of dollars. Each one is made of natural materials and takes weeks and sometimes months to create. Icon artists fast, pray, and meditate on God to prepare themselves for each new work. They have to receive enough pay for the quality and effort of their work.

The rest of the money would go towards printing and printing materials, setting up a user-friendly website, marketing, logistics, packing, and shipping, etc. I estimated that between $7000 $8000 would be the minimum to get started.

We hope to follow up the first few cards with cards for the Fourth of July and other holidays, all the way to New Year cards. Including the icon Armenian Nativity icon we have now, we hope to have a few options just for Christmas alone next year.

If our effort succeeds, we would commission even more icons for new designs. We hope to create up to a dozen types of Icon greeting cards this year. They would all be Christian themed and we hope to provide lots of additional content on each one. Of all these, the profits of the Armenian Nativity icon will be donated to war relief.
 
If God willing all this goes well, we would love to create even more quality Christian themed cards for religious Christians everywhere. They would provide inspiration and encouragement. There would be options available for every kind of life situation and occasion and even customized Birthday cards for people.

To make this work and to get started, we need more help - your help. Please help us keep Christ in Christmas and in all our lives all year. Right now, it's just me and two other people who are advising me. We could use all the help we can get - every penny helps. We’re doing our best to keep Christ in Christmas. Please watch the video to get a better idea of what we hope to accomplish.

One way or the other we will push forward to make this happen. However, this project would have the greatest impact if it took off this year. People need hope, encouragement right now, and the greatest source of hope and encouragement is the love of Christ. Your support and help will make all the difference. God bless.

With many thanks,

Cyril

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