A friend of mine forwarded this email to a bunch of us in this Christian Dance Company in NYC two years ago. She had gone on a trip to Hungary and danced with a band. I had no interest in dance as missions at the time, even though I had travelled Europe extensively it just wasn’t something that crossed my mind. I run a Christian performing arts center which is constantly ministering to others, and I had taught at a dance studio in Mexico, but again missions wasn’t on my radar, but Malta sounded intriguing.
She posted the info on facebook another day and this time the trip to Malta really stood out. I wasn’t sure why because I had no clue where exactly Malta was. All I knew was that I had a book of countries from around the world and one day about six months earlier I had asked God where I would go next, opened the book and pointed my finger and it landed on Malta. At the time I scoffed and told God, “I’ve already been to Monaco which is another tiny place that starts with M in Europe, so nice one, but I’m not going there.”
God of course loves to take comments like that (like the time I said I hated Massachusetts and then ended up going to school there for four years) and work in our hearts.
The more I prayed the more Malta stuck out to me. The Malta trip was a dance intercession trip which was different than the other trips and because of my experience I was even asked if I was sure I was supposed to go to Malta because they could use my skills in Italy at a camp. The more I prayed the more sure I was about going to Malta.
It ended up being an amazing time. We were involved with a house of prayer that had prayer and worship going 24/7 while we were there. Most of our days were spent praying for the other nations teams were ministering in and dancing those prayers. We also danced at a few local churches, did a workshop at a local dance studio, and were part of a flash mob in a city area that is not the greatest. I got to know many wonderful people during my couple weeks in Malta, but it only felt like a start. I could see so much potential in this city we had prayed for. I didn’t really want to leave because I felt like we had started so many things.
As a teacher I am all about connecting with the students and I didn’t want to lose some of the connections I had made. At the same time I felt like being guests at a church and doing the flash mob had been great, but I wanted to make more personal connections. Having done camps many times in US I told the family we had stayed with that I really thought a camp would be a great way to unify the churches in Malta as well as bring in kids who were Catholic. My dance studio has kids from all denominations and Malta being a very Catholic nation is very open to God, I just wanted to show the kids that they can have a close relationship with Him.
I feel like this summer was an answer to many of the prayers from the previous summer. There was still a dance intercessory team that went out on the streets a lot more and saw many come to Christ which I believe is a result of those prayers. For me, that was not my calling this year. This year I was to lead a team to do a camp.
This was my first time being a leader on something overseas, but it wasn’t really too different from leading camps in the US. I have an organized format that works well at this point so we followed it as best we could with a few minor cultural differences–like the parents sticking around to chat in the back of the room all day. Overall it ran very smoothly and I was blessed with three team members who all stepped up the plate when needed with little direction. That was awesome.
The camp we did was able to instill in the kids that they are here on this earth for a reason. That God has a purpose for them. They learned Bible verses, four dances, and an hour long script based on the story of Esther in one week!! It took my students in CT months to learn what they learned in a week! They were amazing! This is something that will stick with them and help them understand their purpose and calling better.
Learning about Esther was a great theme for kids who are a minority in their country because they are Christian. One grandmother told us how her granddaughter has a hard time at school because she is the only one who does not take communion, but this camp was so much for her because she felt comfortable.
There was another incident where a special boy got very upset when we shared with him “And we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him”. He started pounding the ground and stomping saying that good things never happened to him. One of my team members took him aside and was able to talk a little more indepth about the verse to him. Then to our amazement a group of boys came around him, put their arms around him, and started talking to him in Maltese. I enjoyed the interaction because not only is it rare to have ten boys at a dance camp in the US, but it is even more rare to see that sort of affection.
Only two of the kids who came to the camp had ever taken a dance class, so now another 30 kids have been introduced to dance and not just dance, but dance as a form of worship. There were kids who had never had parts in plays and now all of the sudden they had lines to learn in English (the kids were all pretty fluent in English since they learn it in school, but for most it was not their first language).
I love that the words of the songs the kids danced to got into their heads. Songs that emphasized that each kid was born for a purpose, or songs praying for their nation. The songs fit the story of Esther so well, but also were prayers for the nation of Malta. I loved hearing people’s thoughts on the songs and hearing how people had cried while the kids danced. That is how I know hearts were touched.
The kids would come in singing the songs and we would hear the parents singing them as well!
I believe God did so many other little things in our time there that we will never know about.
For someone who originally thought Malta was just a tiny insignificant island that no one has ever heard of God has certainly shown me otherwise. God cares about EVERYONE and has a purpose for EVERYONE even though only 500,000 people live on this island that’s only 15 miles long God cares about each and every one.
The cool thing is that God has cared about this island for ages. He allowed Paul to be shipwrecked on Malta and that is how Christianity was first brought to the people on the island. For a tiny island it is NOT insignificant. In 1565 on September 8–which is my birthday! (someone on my team was like, you were born on their holiday because you were born to come to Malta…haha) The Maltese knights kept Sulieman and the Turks out of Malta, therefore stopping the Muslims from moving forward and that is why Italy and France and Malta all stayed Catholic, or so I was told. It played a significant part in World War 2 being the most bombed place in Europe. God has used this little island and is continuing to. I am excited about what this means for the future as well. I have no clue what the future is of course, but I won’t be surprised if God brings me back there or to other places to do camps as well.
Through all this God has shown me that He has a purpose for everyone everywhere in the world.
One of our verses of course was Esther 4:14 which I believe is so important because it encourages us to step into our calling, it tells us to not be afraid to move forward, because if we don’t who will?
I will encourage you, if you know you called for a time and a place, don’t be afraid to step up! Go!
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? Esther 4:14
By Joanna Bair, who led a trip to Malta in August. 2013