The Champion Grant exists to come alongside student ministry champions with financial support for their ministry ideas. Some of the most encouraging stories we hear from churches in our province come from students who begin new projects or ministries. At Christ the Redeemer in Nampa, Idaho, immigrant students from East Africa and American students looking for new ways to build relationships started teaching each other dances from their cultural contexts. As they learned these dances, they wanted to share what they had learned along with a Gospel message of reconciliation. Adult leaders in the church came alongside these students to support their dance group and find time for them to further the connection and learning that was already taking place.
The Champion Grant allowed these students to go on a new youth dance retreat a couple of hours away from their home church. Some of these students had been a part of the group from the beginning, while others joined the group for the first time. Rev. Ben Fischer shared, “We began by watching a video of our first dance performance to help the newcomers see what we would be working on. Then we read from Revelation 7 about “every nation, tribe, people and language gathered around the throne,” and we talked about the significance of simply being together as Christians from different ethnic backgrounds – American, German, Finnish, Mexican, Rwandese, Kenyan, Burundian, and Congolese.” The students caught a vision of how this passage of scripture spoke to their ministry and decided to call their dance group “Every Tribe and Nation.”
Throughout the retreat, young people had the opportunity to share meals together, join in corporate worship, learn about discipleship, and, of course, learn and practice new dances together. Both Americans and Africans helped lead singing and Bible teaching.
“When it came to learning dances, we warmed up with American kids teaching two upbeat group dances. Rwandan students then stepped in for the primary objective of teaching two Rwandan dances, and the group began to prepare a performance. By the end of the day, the group had mastered the two American dances and one of the Rwandan dances,” Rev. Fischer told our team.
One of the most encouraging things he shared with us is how this group plans to go forward now after the retreat.
Students are working on their presentation, which will soon include a translation of the songs they use, and they are committed to regular rehearsal time. As they have enjoyed getting to share dances with peers from another cultural background, they are getting ready to take the presentation they have worked on to nursing homes, an elementary school, and more church functions.
As Ben observed the group now, he said, “The group has continued to grow closer, and despite the very different backgrounds, they are finding connection in discipleship and the joy of dance. These relationships are growing now even outside our formal times together.”
In creative ways, these young people are sharing the Gospel and bringing awakening to churches, communities, and cultures. As the Student Leadership Network, we want to continue to see young leaders equipped for a lifetime of Kingdom service.