Sharing Your Faith Could Include Belly Dancing


Cracking a clever smile, the beautiful French woman paused. “I will come to your lunch,” she said, “if you will come somewhere with me.”

Cru® staff member Sara Randall had just invited her neighbor Vivienne to a lunch and discussion group at her home.

“I want you to take belly-dancing lessons with me!” Vivienne gushed.

I couldn’t possibly take belly-dancing lessons! Sara thought. But Sara’s desire for Vivienne to know Jesus overcame her apprehension. “Yes! I will do it,” Sara replied.

At 62, Sara took a year of belly-dancing lessons with Vivienne. And the bargain she struck with her neighbor that day gave birth to her lively spiritual discussion group known as “the Wisdom Café.”

A long-distance move

Long before moving to the small village of Valbonne, France, in 2005, Sara and her husband, Roger, sensed God calling them to take the gospel to the leaders and influencers of the world.

Sara and Roger Randall attend a film festival on the French Riviera.

“As we researched Europe,” Sara recalls, “we saw that the [French] Riviera had more influencers than anywhere else. We wanted to live in the middle of these people and to see if we could reach them for Christ.”

The Wisdom Café started with a handful of women. But Sara encouraged the attendees to invite friends. Now 20 to 30 women come regularly, and Sara estimates that more than 50 of Europe’s leaders have dined and discussed with the group, including princesses and duchesses. Many of the women in the group come from other European countries, such as Austria, Switzerland and Denmark.

These well-to-do women often have a deep sense of spirituality but rarely know anything about Jesus. Few have ever held a Bible.

Where do I start?

In the beginning, Sara wrestled with many questions. How do I meet people? How do I introduce them to a “spiritual discussion group”? What will we talk about when we meet?

Talking about Christ with her neighbors felt more daunting than moving across the world to France.

Whether sharing a cup of coffee or chatting across a cubicle at work, Christians face a challenge similar to Sara’s when talking to others about Jesus.

Sara offers three pieces of advice from her experience launching the Wisdom Café to help you introduce people to Jesus in your context.

1. Cultivate hospitality.

When Sara and Roger first moved, they observed that the French usually spend several hours at mealtimes. So Sara invited neighbors and new friends for lunches in their home. She believed the leisurely, casual setting would encourage them to discuss more than just surface topics. She was right.

Sara suggests, “Try using some hospitality and have a discussion on something simple, like stress and how can God help.” The group has also discussed topics that include self-image and forgiving others.

On occasion, Sara directs a discussion on allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your life or shares her three-minute testimony.

“Testimony,” Sara muses, “is always the most powerful thing I share. I always tell [the women] how God made me nervous. If He was real, I didn’t want Him interfering in my life.” Sara’s story of how God melted her fears and gave her new life often moves the women to tears.

The group doesn’t always open the Bible during discussions, but the Bible is the foundation for the Wisdom Café. When they do read Scripture, Sara challenges the women to read it again on their own.

2. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

When preparing for a group, Sara prays, “Lord, what should we do this week?”

Some of the creative ideas the Holy Spirit has brought to her include filling glasses of water to represent guilt, worries or sin, and then pouring the glasses out into a swimming pool to illustrate how Jesus’ sacrifice can empty us of these things.

Sara has also practiced yoga with her group and taught the women Cru’s concept of “spiritual breathing” afterward. The group has also gotten makeovers together and discussed how women uniquely display the beauty of God’s creation.

How can I breathe spiritually?

Regular breathing has two parts: exhaling impure air and inhaling pure air. Spiritually, when we become aware of an attitude or area of our lives displeasing to God, we first must “exhale” or confess that sin to God. Confession means to agree with God that we have sinned and admit we want to change.

We “inhale” by surrendering control to the Holy Spirit and trusting Him to empower us to change. Practicing spiritual breathing enables us to “exhale” sin and “inhale” the Spirit’s direction on a consistent, regular basis as we walk with God. Learn more about what walking in the power of the Holy Spirit means for Christians.

Over time, Sara has learned to tie spiritual truth into daily activities.

3. Don’t be afraid to cross and combine cultures.

Sara and Roger discovered quickly that many French people negatively associate Christians with the Crusades from 1095—1291.

The Randalls desire to be sensitive to France’s complex religious history and overcome the obstacle of the word “Christian” when building relational trust. Rather than calling themselves Christians, Sara and Roger say they’ve “chosen to become followers of Jesus.” They know that words have weight, so they choose them carefully.

A street in Nice, France.

Desiring to be a resource for social entrepreneurs, Roger and Sara met with a professor of entrepreneurship at a prestigious graduate school in Nice, France. The professor asked why they wanted to serve in this way. Roger explained that they had chosen to become followers of Jesus and His teachings.

“Tell me about following Jesus,” the professor responded.

Sara and Roger not only cross cultures, but they also combine cultures.

Sara discovered that the common American practice of wearing name tags encourages intimacy at her discussion lunches. “Some [of the women] have had people in their lives for years that have never called them by their first names,” Sara explains. Their high rank in society demands a certain amount of propriety when addressed. Wearing a name tag and having a new acquaintance call them by their first name has brought some women to tears.

The French Riviera shares a border with the Italian Riviera, both following a portion of the Mediterranean coastline.

The ripples of one changed life

After exchanging Wisdom Café discussions for five belly-dancing lessons, Sara asked Vivienne to lunch. “Vivienne, I’ve been wanting to show you a little book that explains very simply what Roger and I believe,” Sara began.

“Yes, I want to know,” Vivienne replied.

Sara pulled out the Four Spiritual Laws Booklet and read Law One: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

Vivienne blurted out, “Yes, yes, yes. I want that!” She responded eagerly to the words in the booklet that guides readers through the message of Jesus.

Immediately after saying “Amen” to a prayer expressing her new trust in Jesus, Vivienne beamed. “Sara, this café has a library in it. I bet I could go get a Bible!”

Sara grinned, “I bet you could, Vivienne.”

Not only did Vivienne put her faith in Christ that day, but the man she lived with also chose to follow Jesus. The couple married and named their son Nicolas Roger after Sara’s husband. Roger is now that little boy’s godfather.

For Christians, talking about Jesus might seem as intimidating as performing in a belly-dancing recital, like Sara later did. But as we take a few steps in faith toward those around us — whether a member of the European royalty or our American neighbor — we can see God work in ways we never expected.

Read more stories about how God is reaching the influencers of the world and how you can be part of it.

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Fay Augenstein
Words by

Fay Augenstein

Fay Augenstein — from the small town of Valparaiso, Indiana — serves in communications for Women’s Resource at Cru®’s World Headquarters at Lake Hart in Orlando, Florida. A 2009 graduate of Ball State and a fan of reading, writing and baking, Fay is married with two young children.

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Philip Long
Illustrations by

Philip Long

Philip is a soccer coach, freelance writer, and illustrator. He earned a master’s degree in Christian studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Philip balances family life along with bike riding, drawing and whittling toy cars.

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