The Great Abandon Dance Ministry danced to more than a song. It was a story of pain, heartache and restoration as they depicted a refugee’s journey solely through the beat of the music and the movement of their choreography.
Students for Refugees partnered with the dance ministry to raise awareness at John Brown University about refugees in America on Wed. April 10. To begin the night, the Great Abandon Dance Ministry danced to the song “No Country” by John Mark McMillan. Then, Joshua Manning, a pastor of Community Baptist Church in Noel, Mo., and Lou Cha, assistant professor of Biblical studies, spoke about their experiences with refugees.
“The unique part of our ministry in Noel , Missouri in general is that we have access to refugee groups that you didn’t have access to overseas,” Manning said. “I serve refugees in order to give glory to Christ. That is the only reason for doing this. The Holy Spirit is functioning and working and doing spectacular things.”
Co-leader of Students for Refugees Anna Noden said this event taught students about some issues regarding refugees in our area through a unique experience. “We really wanted to incorporate art, advocacy and joy into this event. We felt that most people have negative, sad or hopeless ideas about refugees, and our desire was to illuminate the joy that refugees bring with them and the hope that is available,” Noden said.
According to the National Immigration Forum, “While there were approximately 19.9 million refugees worldwide as of fiscal year 2017, the U.S. currently resettles just a small fraction of them … In Fiscal Year 2016, the U.S. admitted nearly 85,000 refugees, a number that declined to fewer than 54,000 refugees in FY 2017, the lowest number in a decade after President Trump reduced the cap on refugee admissions via executive order.”
In Noel, Mo., Manning said there are ample opportunities for students at JBU to get involved with refugees. Every Thursday night there is a youth group that gathers together and the church always needs student volunteers.
“This event was a great opportunity to see a dance that moves hearts to action, hear speakers on fire for holy hospitality and hear poetry that makes minds think and empathize,” Noden said. “I was struck by the hope that Dr. Cha and Pastor Manning exuded. This event reminded me of the utter beauty of the Spirit and how he is moving his Church towards refugees. I can be so cynical about the Church, but I realized that night that there is hope. There are still Christians who care and who listen to the Spirit. And the Spirit is the biggest advocate for refugees there is, probably. So, I trust him on that account.”