Bethel graduate Michelle Ferris has been keeping busy since her graduation last May. Ferris and The Vineyard Church are hosting a benefit art auction to raise funds for orphaned children in South Sudan. “Art for the Heart of Africa” will be held on Friday, Oct. 23 at The Vineyard Church in Mishawaka starting at 6:30 p.m. The event will feature many activities. After the doors open at 6:30 there will be a silent auction at 7 p.m. Live music will be provided along with catered food. The live auction begins at 8 p.m. and includes a brief informational video on the needs of Sudan. So what is inspiring Ferris to share this event with the community? Two years ago on a semester abroad trip to the Dominican Republic, Ferris taught art classes and was encouraged by missionaries there to use art as a form of ministry. “(Missionaries) in charge of the art school suggested one way that art could be used for ministry was if it was sold and the profits donated to benefit others,” said Ferris. Sudan became the country that Ferris chose to support because her church partners with a ministry in the country. It was last October when her pastor encouraged Ferris to use an art auction to raise funds for Sudan. The people of Sudan are also what inspired Ferris to work with the country even though she has never visited. “(They) stole my heart, and that only increased when I started working with Feed the Hungry and saw the work they were able to do there, providing food to over 900 orphans,” said Ferris. According to Ferris, not only will the efforts of this auction benefit those donating, but profits will go towards expansion in different areas. Profits will go to the New Generation Dreamland Children’s Home in Yei, South Sudan. The focus of these profits is to allow the ministry to care for more orphans who have lost parents due to war, poverty and famine. Ferris notes that the biggest need for the funds is to put a roof on the school building. “If we raise the $5,000 to cover (the roof), the event will have been a success,” Ferris adds, “of course, there are lots of needs that any extra money would help”. Ferris is not the only member of the Bethel community lending their talents to the auction. Bethel Graduates Brittney Fried Baughman and Hannah Lambdin Grudda donated some of their art. Also two Bethel professors, Chris Stackowicz and Suzanne Mauro donated pieces. The auction is admission-free and open to anyone interested in supporting the people of South Sudan. Those interested in entering art work can enter their work by Oct. 15. Ferris encourages people to tell friends about the auction and enjoy the different works of art, even art created by children at the mission in South Sudan. “Mark Pope, pastor of The Vineyard Church, and three others were just in Sudan the beginning of September and were able to bring back a piece of art from each of the 71 kids there” said Ferris. More information is available at www.ARTfortheHEARTofAFRICA.com.