This past year I have had the unexpected privilege of learning how to make hand crafted pens. A lot goes into making each one and I’ve recently created a gallery of photos here that documents the process if you want to step into my workshop for a minute and see for yourself! Pen turning has been a joy and very therapeutic for me during this time of restoration and preparation, though I’ve wondered why it’s something I’ve learned in this season. We don’t always understand why God allows us to learn certain things and how He is going to use them in the future, but He has given me some insight on the exciting possibilities for this newfound skill.
As many of you know, my wife is the Founder and Director of Alleanza Tesori Raggianti ( Radiant Treasures Alliance), an organization that “exists to equip, empower and unite practitioners and advocates in Italy for effective action to prevent and combat commercial sexual exploitation and promote restoration of its victims in the name of Christ”. They have several initiatives to accomplish this, but there is one in particular that we have begun to dream about together. We see a place where my artisan skills as a pen turner can intersect with the process of restoration for survivors of sex trafficking.
The connection point has been a new organization called Girl Set Free (GSF). Girl Set Free was founded by Amy Kratzer, an ambitious woman with a passion to see those broken by exploitation flourish with newfound freedom not only physically but spiritually through new life in Christ. She and her husband launched Girl Set Free which is “an ethical fashion brand developing artisan businesses through fair trade to empower survivors of injustice.” The Kratzers just so happen to live a short distance from our current home (such a God thing), so we got together this summer to swap stories and share hearts as we undertake ministries with similar aims. Little did we know that our informal get together would be the beginning of something more as seeds were planted that night. God has since grown a passion in the Kratzers for proclaiming freedom for captives in Italy, with us as their champions, and the partnership of Alleanza Tesori Raggianti (ATR). We are still working out the details, but essentially the Kratzers desire is that some of the proceeds made from the GSF fashion brand would be invested in ATR initiatives to build safe houses, restorative care programs, and micro-enterprise opportunities for survivors of sex trafficking we are helping in Italy.
If you were to ask a girl being prostituted on the street in Italy today what she wants most, it’s almost guaranteed she’d say she wants a job. Survivors of sex trafficking need an alternative way of making money if they are to be given a fighting chance to rebuild their lives. One of the challenges we face for the survivors in Italy is that the cost of living there is so high compared to many regions in the world. Products typically made through a micro-enterprise business for survivors, such as scarves and jewelry, just won’t cut it in Italy. So, Girl Set Free would like to add hand made leather bags, made by survivors in Italy, to their fashion line. It will be called “The Italy Collection” and what better product to provide in addition to Italian leather bags but a beautiful hand turned pen?
That’s where I come in. We have envisioned a micro-enterprise program in Italy where I train survivors to make hand crafted executive pens with Italian materials for the GSF Italy Collection. When we return to Italy I plan to begin building this opportunity so that survivors in Italy can make hand crafted pens as a significant step in their journey of restoration. Such an opportunity will allow them to re-write their story with freedom as the theme while individuals like you write with your hand crafted pen made by them in Italy.
It’s a huge leap of faith to take this vision and run with it. Will it work? We are not sure, but we know that God uses all of our talents and feel that this is what He is asking us to do. All we can do is take one step at a time and He will do the rest. And that’s where YOU come in!
As I’ve been honing my pen turning skills this year, I’ve had the chance to create quite a collection of one-of-a-kind handcrafted pens. In order to get back to Italy to start this micro-enterprise initiative, our family has to raise the remaining funds needed to meet all of our financial partnership goals. Would you consider helping us get back to Italy by buying a handcrafted pen from my collection? You will not only be helping us get back to Italy, but ultimately helping us to begin re-writing the stories of women who have been enslaved in a dark world.
Take a look at all of the pens available through my website and shop from your seat to find one or more for yourself, a family member or a friend! We’ll send a card along with your pen describing the bigger story behind it so that it could be the perfect gift for someone on your Christmas list this year. I can also take orders for custom pens or larger quantities to fit your vision for how your purchase can best fit your needs and promote freedom at the same time. All proceeds go to our ministry and we are so grateful for your involvement in this unique way!