As a child, I fell in love with dancing. It is a love I still share but it is one God has knit together with a love for missions and evangelism. In the beginning, I wondered how dance could be used to bring about a true heart change cross-culturally, but God wasted no time in expanding my understanding. As I have traveled throughout North Carolina, West Virginia, Mexico, and Rwanda, these places have all varied greatly in culture, but not one has varied in dance being a powerful tool for expressing the Gospel of Christ. Coming in different shapes and sizes, dance on the mission field can look like a camp for children, a redemptive piece performed, or a deepening of worship.
Dance opens doors to minister to children. Culturally and cross-culturally I have worked with many children who come from difficult home situations. Through teaching them how to dance they are given a healthy way to express themselves. The sessions also provide a few hours of light-hearted fun, builds their trust, and helps to express our love and God’s love for them. Hurting children who have a hard time using their words find a way to express what is on their hearts through movement. Many children, like the ones I worked with this summer in Rwanda, carry heavy responsibilities beyond their years. Dance and song is a source where they are allowed to embrace delight and express joy. Building an environment that is light and tender-hearted allows the children to feel safe, which in turn builds trust. It is in this trust that we are able to express clearly Christ’s love and salvation. One of the beauties of dance is that the children are not even aware of how much they are learning. I am amazed by how many songs little ones retain, or how many things they are able to recall through movement. Once they have the message children are quick to share. I have watched as children learn the love of God and His only begotten Son, and then those lessons spill over into their families.
Dance opens the doors for the lost. One of my favorite parts of dance is that it is a language all its own. No matter your language, movement is able to present a clear picture of the Gospel. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. Displaying the redemptive work of God through dance–which most people view as a form of entertainment–draws a crowd. But as they watch the story unfold they begin to find themselves identifying with the expressions of the dancer and the visual expression of Christ’s death, resurrection, and salvation of the lost, and those images are seared into the mind. This picture is not easily forgotten. As God uses it to produce a longing or bring about brokenness we are able to minister to those watching and further explain the Gospel.
Dance prepares hearts and glorifies God. What an honor it is to worship our Creator and Savior. As a team or missionary, it is important to have a heart in right relationship with the Lord, and one that is faithful to praise God. How magnificent it is to use dance to express our praise, and it surely becomes contagious. So, “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with timbrel and harp.” (Psalm 149:1-2).
How beautiful indeed are the feet of those who bring good news. (Isaiah 52:7).
Grace and Peace,
Rebekah Davidson teaches dance at Alamance Fine Arts Academy, she is a former member of Rejoice! Dance Ministries, and a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary majoring in global studies and elementary education.