This January, the Dallas Baptist University dance team, the Patriettes, travelled to Northern England to spend a week in ministry, using their gift of dance to spread the love of Christ.
The trip was the second time the team has traveled overseas as a part of DBU Athletics’ Global Sports Mission Initiative program, allowing various athletic teams to travel internationally on mission once every four years. This year, the team connected with UKUSA Ministries and served in the communities of Teeside and York.
The team spent the week in area schools, assisting as guest instructors in dance, drama and religious education classes. These unique opportunities allowed them to share their testimonies with the students, whose ages ranged from 11-18. During the evenings, the teams worked with local church youth groups and outreach ministries in local coffee shops.
“Every day, we prayed that the Lord would provide us with opportunities to be blessings to the schools and churches,” explained Patriettes Head Coach Brittni Bean, “and every day He proved faithful to answer our prayers.”
In the schools, the Patriettes spent much of their time teaching, using these lessons as a platform upon which they could begin relationships and conversations with students. Often, these conversations began in a dance class and quickly went much deeper than just small talk.
“I was able to share my personal testimony daily with different small groups,” recalled freshman Alexis Hazelmyer from Arlington, “and the children were responsive, curious and eager to learn about the hope that I have in Jesus. They asked challenging questions and some even began to understand a little more of who Jesus is and how deep His love is for us.”
Utilizing the platform of dance proved to be a particularly impactful way to connect with these students. Many of the school children were eager to learn why the members of the Patriettes chose to pursue dance in their lives.
“One of my favorite parts of the trip was being able to use dance as a way to spread the Gospel,” explained freshman Mackenzie Lohnes from Albuquerque, New Mexico. “One of the girls asked me, ‘why do you dance?’ I just simply said that I dance to glorify the Lord. That exchange opened so many doors in our conversation to be able to discuss the Gospel.”
Lindsey Peters, a junior from Waco and co-captain of the Patriettes, discovered ways in which their performances throughout the year connected with the students in special ways.
“We visited the drama classes, and they were studying a play about anorexia,” Peters explained. “The play connected with the themes of a dance we performed for our December Christmas show called ‘No Longer Slaves’, which served as an expression of the freedom we have found in Christ. It was incredible to be able to share a little bit of our testimony through this.”
Throughout their time sharing with students, dancing and experiencing the culture around them, the team walked away from the trip with fresh perspectives on their roles as followers of Christ.
“After traveling to Northern England, I was reminded that the Gospel truly prevails through all things,” explained Hazelmyer. “Though the areas we visited were spiritually dark, it was clear that the work of the Lord was being done. While my heart was often burdened for the people in England, my spirits were lifted by seeing the seeds that were being planted and knowing that they will be watered by the believers currently serving long-term in the area.”
“To spread the word of Christ is an amazing opportunity,” explained Bria Roberts, a Tyler native and co-captain of the team, “and London opened my eyes to see that there are so many moments everyday to share Christ’s love everywhere, not just on mission trips.”
“Overall this trip was a joyfully emotional experience for me,” recalled Bean. “While we want to see every dancer grow in their talent, our true hope is to see them grow in their walks with the Lord, and seeing how each member of the team responded throughout the trip made me so thankful to be a part of this incredible group of girls.”
Courtney Hackett Assistant to the Vice President of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.