We are both part of TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission) and working with the Bologna Ministry Initiative. TEAM Bologna’s mission is to advance the kingdom of God in the city and province of Bologna, working together with like-minded churches and organizations in evangelism, discipleship and leadership development to establish reproducing churches. Each member of the team provides unique skills and gifts to this end.
Jon has two main roles. First, he is an artist on our team. He creates visual and design elements, from websites, to event flyers, to evangelistic tracts, to presentations and more. He enjoys assisting our team and impacting the communities they serve by providing these important assets. Second, Jon works directly with the local community using art as a platform to build relationships and share Christ. The arts have a way of engaging people, especially Italians, and connecting with them in a unique and powerful way. So, Jon teaches art classes to youth, does live painting at evangelistic outreaches, produces and shares his own worshipful art, and facilitates art seminars and workshops at camps and conferences. He has also served as a consultant to churches who want to know what it means to do art as worship, to integrate the arts into church life and to encourage Christian artists to appropriately use their gifts in ministry.
As an artist Jon experiences God during the creating process. He recently finished a series of 15 paintings while in Italy titled, “The Hope of Glory”. Each piece was inspired by a different passage in the book of Revelation. Presenting his work in art shows is one way that he can share his experience with God during the creative process, with others and let God take it beyond Himself. Jon looks forward to these art shows and the opportunities it will provide for attendees to have personal encounters with God as well as to experience the effectiveness of art ministry firsthand.
Jon has also recently discovered a love for a functional art form: hand crafting pens. A handcrafted pen is a piece of art that you can carry around with you and enjoy all day but he also has a vision for the way it can be a catalyst for restoration for survivors of trafficking in Italy. You can view Jon’s handcrafted pens on his artist website and read more there about why they are more than just pens.
Erika is the Founder and Director of Alleanza Tesori Raggianti (Radiant Treasures Alliance), a national alliance of Evangelical ministries combatting commercial sexual exploitation in Italy. There are approximately 50,000 commercially sexually exploited persons in Italy (TAMPEP, 2010). Most are women who have been forced, coerced or tricked into a life of sexual exploitation and are unable to walk away. The Alliance 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. Alleanza Tesori Raggianti’s primary strategies to combat this injustice include awareness campaigning to educate the community about the realities of commercial sexual exploitation, training initiatives to equip motivated individuals and organizations to more effectively combat trafficking, and church mobilization to encourage the involvement of the local and global church through prayer and awareness. Erika’s role as Director includes overseeing the Alleanza Tesori Raggianti leadership team as well as managing and administrating the various projects within the ministry.
God has been clearly building momentum in this country among his people to respond to the crisis of trafficking and Erika is privileged that God is giving her strategic ways to lead this movement. Recently, she organized the kick-off event for ATR which was attended by 30 participants representing 8 organizations in Italy. It was a rich time of officially introducing the mission and vision of ATR, building partnerships, networking, and mutual encouragement. There are very few resources here for those who want to be trained to do this work, so Erika managed a translation project to produce an Italian version of the Hands that Heal: International Curriculum to Train Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors. It was completed and October 2015 and will serve the nation as the first manual like it in Italy.
Erika will also be working with Vite Trasformate, a local anti-trafficking ministry, participating in street outreach to prostituted persons and helping to facilitate a drop-in center so that victims who are reached can be helped more extensively there in a safe environment. Additionally, we are working on beginning a micro-enterprise business to employ survivors of trafficking in Italy so that they have an alternative way to make an income as they rebuild their lives.