This past week I had the privilege of leading a team of dancers to minister at The Next Door ministry in Knoxville. We went as part of a larger team from Fully Alive Ministries and Christ Church Knoxville to lead a Bible study for women who are in desperate need of having their lives restored and set free from great bondage. My wonderful mom-in-law, Kathy Tarr, passionately and tenderly spoke the heart of God over them from John 4 which tells of Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan women at the well. As we worshipped over the Word and in song, I could see hard hearts being softened and blind eyes being opened. If Jesus loved and transformed a woman such as the Samaritan, living a life of great sin and shame, surely there was hope for them too, I believe many were thinking. In fact, it was what I was thinking too, as the gospel of Jesus Christ pierced my own heart afresh. The truth that Jesus set His affections upon me and gave Himself for me, not because of anything in me, but while I was full of sin and hostile towards Him (Ephesians 2) overwhelmed me anew with the glory of His great love and mercy.
Truly Jesus came, and continues to come by His Holy Spirit, to fulfill the words of Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of prison to those who are bound, the proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion–to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
After the testimony of Jesus had gone forth in song, Word, and testimonies of salvation, our little team of dancers stepped forward to minister a song by Matt Gilman, Every Captive Free whose lyrics draw from this very passage among others. In the dance, three women are covered with black blankets with words of bondages written on them such as depression, addiction, immorality, anger..etc. A dancer representing the Spirit of Jesus comes out and one by one begins to set these women free. As each woman arises, she begins to dance the same dance of freedom over the others that are still bound as a picture of the beautiful ministry of the Church as the body of Christ to proclaim His glorious gospel. Truly our own hearts were encountered by the love of Jesus for these women, even bringing several of us to tears while we were dancing. At the end of the dance, as a call to turn from the their life of sin and receive the free gift of eternal life in Jesus was put forward, the great majority of the women responded to His invitation. There were many tears, many smiles, many hugs, and resounding songs of praise going forth from that home that night. Jesus was setting captives free!