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189 || She Dances: Restoring What’s Been Stolen

It was one of those moments. You know the ones—like when a first-time grandpa picks up his new grandson, looks him square in the eyes and sees new life. Or the instant your daughter walks across the stage at her college graduation. These are special moments.

“I looked over at her and she was spinning around, just dancing, and playing. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me, ‘That’s My heart for My daughters.’”

Interview 

Upon receiving a brief email from their founder Jeremy, and finding (read: stalking) She Dances on social media, I just knew we HAD to talk. Their website, which is equal parts sleek and motivating, lured me in. I think I watched their intro video about 12 times. Possibly in a row.

We scheduled a day to chat and met up at Octane Coffee in Birmingham, Alabama in the Homewood area. For readers who are unfamiliar, Homewood is certainly the newest, coolest, hipster-ish area of Birmingham. Jeremy arrived, and it became very clear he either knew or was well-liked by about 99.99% of the people in the coffee shop. He lit up the room, and we started blabbering over delicious, well-crafted coffee.

Trying to stay on track, I effectively blurted out a jumble that sounded a bit like a caffeine-induced seizure. “I need to know the story. This coffee is amazing. Right? Wait. How did you get this thing started? Wow, you’re really young. Dang, this coffee is good. Okay, tell me all of it. Don’t leave anything out.”

 

Eloquent, right? Well, if you haven’t realized it by now, most writers are painfully gushy in person. So I was just living up to my profession and acting-a-fool. Thankfully for me, Jeremy obliged my rambling and started at the very beginning. Three hours later, I had laughed, cried and basically rededicated my life to Christ.

Thin Places

Back to the moment I mentioned earlier.

We’ve all had one. For me it was the moment I came down the stairs, locked eyes with my future husband, and started my jaunt down the aisle with my dad sniffling and blubbering beside me as the leaves fell on that beautiful autumn day. Time stood still. And as realistic and sometimes cynical as I can be, I must admit that I anticipate these moments in life. Don’t we all? Yet, in all our preparation and planning, we cannot conjure them up or avoid them. They just hit. In those moments, it’s as if God creates these thin places between Him and us where things just get fuzzy. The good kind of fuzzy — where nothing else in this world matters except His perfect plan and our obedience in it.

She Dances was born in one of those thin places.

California, Here We Come

It all started with some normal guys from Clanton, Alabama. (Google it. It is famous for peach ice cream!) Jeremy Springer and his bandmates decided to pack up their southeastern lives and head to Hollywood to try and make it big. “You know, we were going to be those guys who were in the world but not of it. It was the thing to do at the time. Our music was Christian music, but it was sort of, ya’ know, undercover. We didn’t come right out and say it,” Jeremy recalled.

In California, Jeremy got involved with Mosaic church and started participating in events with their ministry for trafficking victims. “At the time, I had never heard of the whole issue. So I started to dig in and read some articles about it. I remember being in our one-bedroom apartment that I shared with three other guys in L.A. and just falling down on my face. The Holy Spirit spoke to me, and I knew that this was going to change my life. I remember saying and praying ‘God, I’ll do whatever you want me to do to see healing take place.’”

With that in mind, Jeremy researched and happily got involved with One Voice to End Slavery, a ministry in Costa Mesa, California. At one event, he volunteered at an art booth. The guest speaker was a young woman from Cambodia who had been trafficked and exploited. “I was brand new to the situation, and I got to hear a story from this young 20-something-year-old girl about her rescue. I met her, said hello, but what happened later on that day changed the course of my life.” Later that day, out of the corner of his eye, Jeremy saw that same girl just a few feet away. As if in slow motion, she was laughing and dancing. Her dress was flowing, catching light from the sun. The Lord spoke to Jeremy and revealed His heart. He said that’s how it’s supposed to be. “That’s My heart for My daughters.”

“About 7 months went by, and the band and I decided that we should move back to Alabama. I knew there was something there with that woman dancing at the festival, but I wasn’t sure what just yet. We moved back and started touring again.” Jeremy continued, “One night, the Lord just woke me straight up out of my sleep, and the words ‘she dances’ came to me. I didn’t know what He wanted, but I knew He wasn’t done with this. So I did what most 20-something musicians do. I wrote a song.” Jeremy started writing and then shared what he had with his band mates. Together, they finished the song and began playing it at shows, always sharing the purpose and meaning behind the lyrics to increase awareness. Unclear of what else to do with this burden, they made “She Dances” t-shirts.

And the Lord used it. Fans came up after shows and shared ways the song had affected them. One girl specifically spelled it out for Jeremy after a show one night. “For years, I’ve hated myself and struggled with various forms of self-harm. You talked about sex trafficking, and it made me realize — these women that are being hurt have no choice. I HAVE a choice and was still choosing to hurt myself. I went home the night after your concert and got on my knees and gave Jesus my life. THANK YOU.”

Let’s recap — information and statistics about trafficked women and a song written by three guys inspired a girl to give up her habits of self-harm and fully commit to Jesus. Brokenness is the same no matter how it’s laid out. Honesty, repentance, and action — it is indeed contagious. God was moving…

Big Connections

Jeremy continued to seek and obey God in this vision. It’s no surprise that God continued to bless Jeremy. He met his wife after a concert in the Atlanta area and married her shortly after. Early on, they both agreed that “She Dances” needed to be more than just a song that raised awareness. Together they began praying that God would show them the next step. In 2009, they connected with women in Honduras. “I had never been to Honduras, and Central America was not even on my radar,” Jeremy laughed. “You hear a lot more about Thailand, Cambodia, and the Red Light District. It was the first time someone had mentioned this. So I pursued it, sent this woman an email, and she invited me to fly down.”

In Honduras, Jeremy met an Anglican priest, Suzy McCall. She is the founder of the Latin American Missionary and Bible Institute (LAMB). She originally went down to train missionaries, but when she got there, given her motherly and nurturing spirit, babies started turning up on her doorstep. It was obvious she was a safe place. Suzy currently has an orphanage with 65 kids, a school in the slums with 240 kids, a micro-credit program to boost the local economy, a ministry that reaches out to boys under the age of 16 who would otherwise be involved in gang activity, and has legally and figuratively adopted several Honduran children of her own. In a way, all the kids Suzy cares for are indeed her own! “She moves in the power of the Holy Spirit. She’s one of those women that when she talks, you stop and listen. We were kindred spirits,” Jeremy explained.

Suzy showed Jeremy around the city. She told him, “Jeremy, I’ve been praying for years that God would send someone to this country to start an anti-trafficking ministry. I’ve wanted to do it, but it’s just too much for me. I think you’re the one I’ve been praying for. I thought you were going to be a little older and maybe not have so many tattoos, but you are the one.” Jeremy was thrilled. His heart was aligned with Suzy’s, and they began making plans to get the ministry rolling. Suzy had been doing work in Honduras for over 20 years. Her connections were limitless, and she had paved the way for Jeremy. She knew the ins and outs; she had effective lawyers, connections with the police and vital relationships that would lay the groundwork for healing to take place.

With Suzy’s help and some support and training from very knowledgeable allies such as International Justice Mission and Wellspring Living Atlanta, Jeremy was able to open a home for girls rescued from sex trafficking in October of 2010. It is a place of healing and restoration, with house moms, hot food on the table, activities, a family dog and so much more. The She Dances staff uses various therapies, prayerful medical treatments with qualified doctors and loving relationship building through the power of the Holy Spirit to restore their girls. What was once lost can now be returned in the power of Jesus. And it sure is sweet.

The She Dances home can accept six girls at one time. Each child is carefully placed in the home in a way that protects her from being found by her previous pimps or controlling friends and acquaintances. On a typical day, 12 eyes will see sunshine and a smiling face each morning when they wake up, six sets of hands get to paint pictures instead of engaging in sexual acts, and six hearts are forever redeemed, loved and made new by the Gospel of Christ. The girls learn about sustainable income sources, art therapy and healthy friendships. They are captured by good, pulled into a safe place and nurtured endlessly. What a clear image of how Christ captures us.

In early 2014, the organization started a prevention education program in the public schools in Central America and is on track to reach 40,000 children by the end of the year. These kids are being educated about what to look for in predators, safety precautions to practice, and how to notify authorities if they are being targeted. The bonus? Their schools are not like the schools in America. Separation of church and state does not exist. That being said, the She Dances family can preach the good news to these kids right there in their own classrooms. What an incredible tool! They are educating children to fight against evil and empowering them with the ultimate weapon — Jesus.

Total Redemption

“One girl came to our facility in the worst physical state we’ve ever seen. Her name was Sophia. She was 11 years old. She had experienced so much physical abuse that the doctors said she would never heal. The first night we had her at the house, we fed her food at the table. It was the first time she had been given food that wasn’t thrown at her on the ground in a dark room.” Jeremy choked up. “Can you believe that?”

Sophia continued to experience immense emotional victories throughout her first few months at the She Dances home. After years of neglect, she began to overcome relational milestones quickly. She understood being cared for, interacted with her fellow housemates, and began to live life the way any typical girl her age should – freely, happily and without fear. The staff was impressed with her success but knew not to expect too much. Her abuse had been violent and damaging; they knew they would encounter limitations.

Nevertheless, Sophia was indeed spirited. On one specific visit to the She Dances home, Jeremy sat with her to talk. Convinced she was going to be a musician and singer, she chatted with Jeremy about her hopes and dreams. She specifically stated that she desperately wanted to learn to write her name. Many of the girls who come to the She Dances home have had no formal education. In their past lives, education was not available. He nodded, proud of her aspirations. “I know you can do it — you are the smartest girl in the world!”

Several months later, Jeremy returned to the She Dances home, and she greeted him at the door with a hand written letter. “She wrote me a letter,” Jeremy recalled, smiling from ear to ear.

During that same visit, the women on staff took Sophia to the doctor for a checkup. Her abuse had been so severe that her prognosis several months back was not good. But on this day, the doctor emerged from the examining room white as a sheet. He simply said, “It’s a miracle. There is no sign of physical harm. It’s as if she was never abused.”

God is using this ministry to heal what has been broken, shine a glorious light into the darkest corners and suffocate evil with love. He is taking the obedience of a normal guy and changing lives — one by one.

This is His heart for His daughters

How Can You Help?

SheDances operates mostly in the healing and restoration aspect of trafficked victims. Each girl they bring into their home requires endless prayer, time, planning, patience, and expense. Given the delicate nature of this work, short-term trips to assist the She Dances house are not a great option. She Dances would love to have you come on board and help in the following ways: Host an awareness night at your local church or school. Donate money, equipment, medicine, or supplies. Shop their online store. Visit www.shedances.org to join in!

 

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