Saturday, December 24, 2016

Chains Shall He Break

We've been busy this month, celebrating Christmas by sharing the gift of dance! Company member Katie Dearman recounts some of her favorite moments and the special gifts she received during our recent performances across Houston.

When I started with Ad Deum a few months ago, I knew that outreach was an important component of the company’s regular season. As a faith-based organization, of course “serving others” would be part of what I signed up for. Perhaps I assumed that “outreach” would look like it does for many other organizations: a hospital visit squeezed in here or a homeless shelter visit added on there. It would be another thing on the checklist: we toured to these places, we performed in these festivals, and oh yeah, we did that outreach thing, too.

But oh, how wrong I was and how much the Lord had to teach me! In the past few weeks alone, God has shown me that I can dance beautifully and serve others at the same time. I can sweat at the barre and intercede for cancer patients all in one day. My roles as professional dancer and missionary do not—and should not—fit into separate compartments. It is who I am, who God has called me to be… and Ad Deum is the place where He has brought me to live out that beautiful calling.

Annual picture by the Christmas tree after performing at M.D. Anderson

During the few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Ad Deum performed at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University Baptist Church, Star of Hope Transitional Living Center, Belmont Village Senior Living, and M.D. Anderson Rotary House International (a hotel for out-of-town patients and families). I adored dancing pieces like “Oh Holy Night” and “What Child is This?” in each of these unique locations. The first and the last, however, were particularly meaningful to me.

Nine years ago, I lost my dad to melanoma cancer. He was treated at M.D. Anderson, the very best place he could have been, but cancer took over his body and stole his life. This devastating loss led me to the Lord at age 14 and I committed my life to following and serving Him.

In college, I dove head first into the fight against cancer by participating in Relay for Life and raising money for the American Cancer Society. In fact, I raised over $100,000 during my four years in college. This huge accomplishment brought deep healing in my grieving process and a great sense of purpose as I worked in a very practical way to fight against cancer.

Since graduating in May of 2015, however, I haven’t participated in Relay for Life or done any fundraising. I’ve felt an emptiness, a weight of guilt… How am I honoring my dad’s life? What am I doing to fight back against this disease that took him from me? Am I wasting my talents and energy? In these moments of guilt and lack of direction, I felt like cancer was winning all over again. But the Lord, in His mercy, invaded those lies and redirected my heart, and He did so through Ad Deum.

I am so thankful for the financial generosity of others who joined alongside me in the battle against cancer, and I will continue raising money for research for a cure. But God is showing me another way that I can fight, a way to pray and comfort, a way to usher in physical and spiritual healing… through my art.

When I moved and swayed and swirled and worshiped in the lobby of M.D. Anderson Rotary House in front of cancer patients and their families—people walking through exactly what I walked through nine years ago—the Lord was at work. As I danced to the words, “Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease,” I felt the Holy Spirit fiercely battling against the chains of cancer and the oppression of fear and grief.

When we do these outreach performances, our mission is so much more than delivering a little Christmas cheer through our pretty dresses and bright smiles. Yes, that is so important. But we are partnering with God in His ministry of reconciliation, of binding up the broken hearted and setting the captives free. Dance has the power to do these things because art ignited by the Holy Spirit is transformative. It changes hearts and lives.

So as I reflect upon our marathon of outreach performances, I am thanking God that intercession and healing are an integral part of His purposes for Ad Deum. We don’t perform as dancers sometimes and as missionaries other times. Whether at the Wortham Center in the heart of Houston’s Theater District or in a hospital, God will work in mighty ways through our dancing when we submit it to Him.

Dancing to “Oh Holy Night” can truly break the chains of cancer when God wills it, for He is God, and all things are possible through Him. Amen.

~ Katie

Photo Credit: Sarah Lee Roes

Merry Christmas! Be sure to keep following us on Facebook and Instagram as we dance our way into the New Year!