Thirteen years ago, when I was a freshman at Wheaton College, there was a unique six month season of time in which the Lord spoke much prophetic destiny into my life. It was in this timeframe that my call to ministry was confirmed and my heart was healed and touched by Jesus in powerful and life-changing ways. In fact, this was why I began sneaking into my dorm hall’s “living room” in the middle of the night to dance before the Lord. It was the only way I could express the amazing amount of love, joy, and thanksgiving that was overflowing my heart!
I was able to attend a worship conference where the ministry team prayed for all of the college students after the meeting. One of the ministers prayed over me that she believed God was calling me to be a type of Deborah, a worship warrior through dance. She said I would lead many people in worship and prayer in this way and that many victories in the kingdom of God would be won in this way.
I was blown away! I had never thought about dance having a significant purpose for ministry, and I had only recently begun really dancing before the Lord in worship. In order to respond in faith to this word, I immediately got up and began dancing. There was no music or words. I just began expressing my heart through movement. My friend Mia began dancing as well, and soon the entire group of 20 or so students were dancing and singing praise songs to the Lord well into the middle of the night. It was as if a mini revival had all touched our lives. That same evening, someone came up to me and said that they sensed by the Holy Spirit that one day I would minister the gospel through dance to the Gypsy people group. I was intrigued to say the least. I remember going to the school library and looking up dance and the Gypsies. It was my first step in researching the history of dance in the nations, which since has become one of my most significant areas of study.
I have held that word about the Gypsies in my heart for over a decade without knowing of any open door for me to meet them, much less minister among them. All that changed when we met Beni Lup of Bridge to Europe. Beni and his wife Eugenia are a couple being used by God mightily in remarkable and diverse ways in Romania where they live and even throughout Europe. Beni has been given great favor with the king of the Gypsies who is a believer in Jesus Christ and is working to see salvation in Jesus be brought to his people. Because of Beni’s relationship with the royal family, we were invited on our recent trip to Romania to meet with and minister among the Roma believers who live in Sibiu, Romania. I was able to dance to a song by CeCe Winans called Alabaster Box, which is one of my all time favorite songs to dance to, that tells the story of the Mary in the gospels who poured her perfume on the the Lord’s feet and washed them with her hair and tears. The story was told in Romanian and the lyrics were read before and after I danced. It is a call to whole hearted extravagant worship and love for Jesus. After our team led worship and the dance, my husband Nathan brought a powerful evangelistic message from the Word, and we saw several people come to salvation in Jesus that night. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Lord bringing me to the fulfillment of the word that has been in my heart for 13 years.
The next day got even better if that is possible! My husband Nathan, who is a pastor/teacher, was asked by King Florin, in partnership with Beni Lup and his ministry, to help start a Bible School for the Roma pastors who are in great need of training. Florin has planted over 120 something churches throughout every district in Romania and desires all those pastors to have Bible training. Eventually, he would like to make training available to the Roma pastors in other nations throughout Europe as well. Now this is REMARKABLE!!!! This people group has suffered and continues to suffer great rejection and derision throughout the many countries where they live. They also value their culture greatly and thus are careful of outside influence on their families. Yet Jesus knows and loves them and has a plan to redeem them and their culture!
At the same time as my husband and the men were meeting together discussing the Bible school, my amazing mom-in-law Kathy and I were able to teach and lead a group of women in worship dance. Kathy taught them from John 4 about the love of Jesus for the Samaritan woman at the well, and many of the Roma women were deeply touched and moved to tears. Then I had the joy of teaching them what God’s word says about worshipping Him with dance and lead them in simple movements to the song I mentioned in my earlier post, Restoration.
I will write more on this in coming posts, but dance breaks through cultural barriers in such a powerful way. We could not speak the same language, but we could do the same movements that expressed the same heart’s cry. In one sense, we were able to “speak” the same language and it brought such a sense of unity and togetherness despite how very different we are. Some women were so overwhelmed at the joy and freedom of worshipping this way that they had to temporarily stop moving because they were crying so hard at how touched they were. (They had formerly been taught by other missionaries that dance is wrong and they can not “dance” once they become a Christian. I was not surprised by this…..which is why I taught them from God’s word because it is the truth that sets people free!)
I had such an incredible time! So much that I had been researching and praying about, thinking and writing, I was now touching and seeing and tasting. I even got to have my hair braided by the princess and bought a traditional Roma dress. I requested to learn some of their culture’s dance movements because I have such a heart to see the dances of the nations redeemed, and I had fun learning it! How their own dance can be used for worship is still a little unclear in their minds, but I have no doubt the Lord will make it clear to them in His time. They are beautiful people, and I fell in love with them! I can’t wait to go back!