He stood off by himself, leaning against the wall at the neighborhood Boys’ Club, trying to appear disinterested in the auditions going on. Other more confident kids were displaying their dancing talents, attempting to earn a competitive spot in our Moving In The Spirit dance company. He was learning-disabled, or so his school had labeled him, and though physically coordinated he had never attempted any organized sports. It was safer to remain in the shadows, protected from cruel teasing that would surely come from a failed attempt to compete in public. That’s when Dana caught his eye. Dana, the visionary who started the dance program, notices things that slip by others. She saw something in his expression, something like desire, and motioned him over. Chris, he said his name was. And no, he was not interested in trying out. But Dana knew better. She encouraged him to try a couple simple movements and after a bit of urging got him to take just a small risk. She was surprised at the fluidity of his movement, surprised too at how well he followed her lead. “You’re good,” she said, meaning it. Chris stifled a nervous smile. Neither Chris nor Dana could have imagined where this first tentative step would lead.
Chris was not learning-disabled, Dana told his middle school counselor. He’s a kinetic learner who processes knowledge through physical sensations, different from a spatial or logical learner, but quite intelligent. Removing the disparaging label was a huge boost for Chris’ self-image. His natural ability distinguished him immediately as a leader among the young dancers in Moving in the Spirit. He thrived on the affirmation. Our ministry center became his second home, a few blocks away from the drug infested street where he lived and a world away from its influence.
By Chris’ senior year in high school he was not only an accomplished dancer but a respected leader as well. His physical strength and self-discipline, along with a winsome smile, drew younger performers to him like a magnet. He assumed significant leadership roles in Moving in the Spirit, planned summer performance tours and even served on the board of directors. Dana encouraged him to apply to a local college, a hurdle unimaginably high for one who still struggled from the ugly childhood stigma of being “slow.” To Chris’ astonishment, he passed the entrance exam and was accepted into college. Four years later he became the first member in the history of his family to earn a college degree.
Today, Chris is fulfilling a dream. Since his early days in Moving in the Spirit he had a secret desire to start a program specifically for young men like himself who needed a way to escape the influence of the street. With Dana’s encouragement he launched Men in Motion, a performing arts program that instills discipline, spiritual and moral values, and leadership skills in the lives of young urban men. Now a homeowner in our community, Chris exerts a powerful influence upon the young men who you’ll see hanging out on his front porch, young men who need a strong, Godly example in their lives.
This summer Chris will involve his young friends in an action-packed schedule of strenuous practice and performances, travelling and spreading a message of Hope to other youth. Chris, like the other youth leaders in our FCS family of ministries, will need the support of caring friends to be sponsors for worthy young people who will participate in a variety of creative summer camping programs. Some children will participate in athletics, others will explore nature, most will take overnight trips to expand their world – but all will feel the affirmation of caring counselors. And all will experience the love of the One who created each one of them for a special purpose. A gift of $100 will enable a child to participate the entire summer. Will you and/or your Sunday School class or office be a sponsor for one or more of these children? I assure you it will be a worthy investment.
Thanks for being a partner with us in ministry,