Jesus Sets Captives Free!

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!

Dance that Testifies to the Worth of Jesus

When I see someone dance as an offering of worship to the Lord, no matter what they look like or how “skilled” their dance may be, I see the worth of Jesus reflected through their movements and on their faces.  This week I had the opportunity to see some women that are a part of a Biblical Foundations of Dance class I am currently teaching at my church, Christ Church Knoxville, simply move across the floor pouring their hearts out to the Lord through movement.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Jesus who had captured these beloved ones hearts.  This was not easy for all of them as many are just learning to dance before the Lord. That they humbled themselves before the rest of us and stepped out in faith was such a gift!  I was more in love with Jesus after that class and inspired to pour myself out for him in all spheres of life because of watching these women move in faith.

I’ll never forget reading an article written by Sam Storms about the time when he saw Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic for two-thirds of her life, dance and how it moved his own heart to worship.  I have included the link to this article and encourage you to read it.  I pray the testimony of Jesus in her dance will inspire you to love and worship the Lord with all that you are.  May He graciously break down every excuse and every hindrance that is holding you back from fully and freely expressing your heart to Him!  “I Saw Joni Dance” by Sam Storms

Restoration in Romania

Ps 30:11-12 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

I just returned two weeks ago from one of the most amazing trips of my life.  My husband Nathan and I and a team from our church, Christ Church Knoxville went on a mission trip to Romania in partnership with Bridge to Europe.  We ministered at several evangelistic services, pastors’ training, and women’s seminars. We even got to share the gospel and teach worship songs and movement in a class at one of the public schools!  Each day of the trip deserves its own post as we saw miracles every day, and our schedule was extremely full.  I had the joy of using dance as a tool of cross cultural ministry and communication in several different ways and contexts.

One of the ways I was able to offer my dance as a gift of worship to the Lord and the body of Christ was on the last day of our trip.  It had been pouring rain the entire week, and the sun broke through just in time.  We were headed to a property near Timisoara that has been  given to   Bridge to Europe                   for lives to be transformed and restored by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  One of the buildings that will be on this property is called “The Butterfly Center.”  I encourage you to follow the Bridge to Europe link to learn more about this amazing vision.  Women who are being rescued out of human trafficking will have a place to be healed and restored!

As part of aiding this ministry in their efforts to raise awareness and funds for this center, I was blessed to be able to choreograph and teach movement to David Brymer’s song “Restoration” to two precious Romanian women who have a testimony of the Lord’s powerful restoration in their own lives. Carla, one of the women who danced with me, will live on site as one of the leaders of the ministry and see the vision the Lord has put in her heart for these women (and children) come to fruition.  Not only was our dance a prophetic declaration of the plans of the Lord to come for this property, but it was also filmed in order to help capture the essence of what the ministry is about.  It will be used to help share the heart of the ministry as the vision is communicated.

To think that my simple dance could be used by the Lord in the war against human trafficking humbles and overwhelms me.  To think that women will one day learn at the Butterfly Center how they can worship the Lord with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and see their bodies redeemed out of slavery to darkness to a place of purity– learning to dance before the Lord in freedom –completely undoes me! This is just one of the reasons why my resurrected dream of dance unto the Lord is so much better than my original plans and desires to be an entertainer.  By the grace of God and His Spirit at work in me, eternity is being impacted.  Precious lives will be healed and restored by the Lord!  My dance is just one very small piece in this Master Plan that is being worked by the God who delivers people out of slavery, but it matters all the same.  My prayer is that many will find their mourning turned into dancing in this place.Image