Shortly after our family arrived in Italy we facilitated a national conference for the anti-trafficking ministries across Italy. It was ATR’s (Alleanza Tesori Raggianti which means Radiant Treasures Alliance) second annual event. As Director of ATR and the main coordinator of the event, it was important that Erika be there. It was also great that Jon (and our girls) could be there since he had to stay Stateside with Arianna for the first event the year prior.
This year the theme was Rediscovering Radiance. We were greatly encouraged and blessed to see so many from across the nation, a group double the size from last year’s event, unite in order to empower and equip each other! That’s 60+ individuals representing 8 anti-trafficking ministries, all in different cities and regions across Italy.
Our keynote speaker was Gennaro, the President of a Christian non-profit in Italy that is running the only Evangelical safe house in the country. Participants learned many valuable things and gleaned such insight from him as he shared from Scripture and spoke about his experience as one of the most experienced Christian practitioners in the anti-trafficking field in Italy.
Another special speaker was a survivor of sex trafficking here in Italy. Her name is Blessing and she shared her powerful testimony and then addressed individual questions with vulnerability and passion (not pictured fully for her safety).
The group was later inspired by Matteo, an Italian believer and artist, who taught how to use art as a tool to engage the victims of trafficking on the street and provided opportunities for participants themselves to encounter God in a new and dynamic way through artistic experiences.
Erika was able to update participants about the work of ATR and all the ways we want to work together to combat the crisis of trafficking in our nation. She then introduced the ATR Steering Committee, which has also grown in size since last year, and each member shared about his or her area of focus.
One of the new groups we were able to present this year was the Micro-Enterprise Initiative. Jon is the Co-Coordinator of the group along with Amy Kratzer from Girl Set Free. He was able to show a video introducing our partnership with GSF and vision for how we can provide employment and thus a path for freedom for victims of trafficking in Italy.
Each Steering Committee member then led discussions regarding the issues their ATR work group is working to address (see Jon pictured above leading his group).
The rest of the day was spent connecting with one another and worshipping together with one of the better known Christian music leaders in Italy who graciously led us in beautiful times of song.
May all the experiences and resources poured out that day be useful for each who participated as they continue in their efforts to push back the darkness with the radiance of Jesus Christ in each of their cities.
May God give the ATR Steering Committee (pictured above except for one who was absent) wisdom and discernment as we do what we can to continue to equip, empower and unite them. We are grateful to be a small part of what God is doing in this nation to bring justice where evil prevails and to restore lost daughters and sons to Himself.