After many years working in the film and TV industry (and attending Reality LA), Zach and Naomi left Los Angeles in 2008 and eventually joined church plants in Rome and Venice.
Originally worked in church planting, discipleship, leadership development, and evangelism, they also developed an interest in serving refugees and victims of human trafficking in Italy. Naomi recently completed a Masters in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship and is studying Narrative Trauma Care. She plans to use these skills to counsel those who have been wounded by trauma and facilitate the telling of redemptive stories.
In 2019, the Balivas volunteered to help give Italians hands-on training in media production on the set of a short film on the Amalfi Coast. That experience and their relationship with other filmmakers in Italy opened their eyes to the potential of using the arts to make an impact in Italy. Later, they launched Il Ponte Film Group, a nonprofit film production company that connects Hollywood professionals with emerging Italian filmmakers to make documentary and narrative films and videos designed to pursue truth and help audiences examine the lives they live and experiences they share.
The Balivas are based in LA and also working in Italy helping Italian filmmakers create high-quality, mainstream narrative and documentary films with redemptive themes that share the message of the gospel. They are also developing a free Italian language video and media library that can be used throughout Italy.
Why is this work so important? Most Italians have rejected the spiritual answers their culture presents, but they remain hungry for the truth. Italy is a postmodern society, and many Italians are reluctant to enter the doors of a church building. However, in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, many Italians are searching for answers online. The world is changing, and creating digital content from a Biblical perspective by helping Italians hone the skills they need to harness the power of media and explore life’s deepest questions is a significant way the church can change with it.
If you’d like to partner with the Balivas in their ministry in Italy, please visit their donor portal.