Jon is 20 and pioneering change through his art.
TAG asked Jon, a second year university student, to share his story on how he has recently been leading change by using his gifts, abilities and passions. Here is Jon’s story in his own words:
I was born in a South Africa, to a family of 5. When I was younger I remember my parents always talking about ideas of justice. My parents, shared their belief in God with me, I definitely feel that I grew up with a sense of right and wrong. I believe that there can be justice in the world, and that part of my role as a follower of Christ is to care for the vulnerable and weak. We can be the ones to cause change in our world. I also believe that God has a call on each one of our lives; ‘For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Ephesians 2:10)
When I was 16, my mum went on a trip to Thailand to work with an organisation that works in anti-trafficking. After hearing about her trip, I felt my heart being moved. I felt a deep sense of compassion for the people involved, and the hurt and pain they were feeling. I had been thinking for a while about ways in which art and creativity can discuss bigger issues. That year, I created a series of paintings which where about issues relating to trafficking, which I exhibited for my end of year show at college.
I am now at Falmouth University studying a BA in Drawing and attend the same church as a girl called Amy Lewis. When I heard about Amy’s trip to Thailand where she would be working with an anti-trafficking organisation, I wanted to help her raise the needed funds for her trip. I began to think about ways that I could get involved in doing this and spoke with Amy about a few ideas. I shared about the different ‘sphere’s of influence’ in my life such as my church, friendship groups and my course. And she shared her passion and ideas of what she wanted from her experience in Thailand and what she wanted to give to the organisation she would be working with.
We felt an exhibition of works discussing the issue of trafficking would be a good way to link our passions and abilities together.
In this exhibition we wanted to include as many people as possible to spread awareness about the issue of trafficking and raise funds for the trip. I began talking to friends and family, asking what they thought, sharing the vision and discussing ideas. I got a great response from my course mates and we all decided to submit some of our artwork in the exhibition with the focus being on the issue of human trafficking. We talking about ideas such as, discussing expressing its destructive effects to the people involved and the great global community, but also creating work that would inspire hope and change.
In the two months building up to the exhibition, Amy and I spent many hours organising the logistics and practicalities of the event itself. Aspects such as advertising, locations scouting and keeping connection with everyone involved were all elements that I had to consider throughout. I ended up having several positive discussion with course mates about social justices, and the ideas relating to right and wrong.
There where definitely some risks in putting this exhibition on. At times I felt like this might not work out. But I really felt that God was leading me throughout the process, and for me, this was an experience in learning to trust Him more. One of the challenges we faced was a change in manager at Gallery, which meant we had to rearrange elements of the show on the day. Gods favour was definitely on all our interactions.
What was exciting about the whole thing, was seeing how art and creativity can be used to talk about bigger issues. It is something that I feel can speak to the soul in a very unique way.
The final exhibition was housed in the Gallery below Pizza express in Falmouth. We titled the Exhibition ‘Thrive’ as we felt it related to both the charity and our vision for the works. We also arranged a Silent Auction on the private view, where all the works were for sale. We felt very blessed by everyone, as the funds raised exceeded our expectations! It was also great to see so many people for different paths of life (church, university, family, friends) all connecting together to think about one single issue. I was pleased to hear several conversations happening between people on the night. What really excited me about the event was seeing how people can come together in community and make change. We all have the ability to do something, and God has good works for you to do. He has placed things on each of our hearts, and I am always inspired when I see people walking out the callings on their lives. My questions for you are; What is on your heart to do? What is on Gods heart for you to do? I believe it is in seeking him that you will see where those two elements connect. My hope for you is that you will be inspired to step out and act out in faith, doing the good works God has prepared for you to do!