March 25, 2013

Germany: Dared to Move

Women build friendships with neighbors and co-workers by inviting them to a Zumba aerobics class.

When the bad weather rolled in during what was supposed to be a fun weekend outdoors, Freie evangelische Gemeinde Augsburg church leaders at the women’s retreat weren’t sure what to do.

TEAM missionary Beth Chadwick, who is a certified aerobics instructor, just happened to have her Zumba DVDs with her and sheepishly offered to lead a Zumba class. The leaders jumped right on it, found a space big enough to host a group of women, and everyone loved the class. The leaders immediately asked Chadwick if she could do a class on a weekly basis at the church.

Chadwick was excited to be asked, but hesitated to say yes. It would be a good way for her to get experience in leading a class and practice her German, but she wasn’t interested in simply adding another activity to the church calendar. Instead, Chadwick wanted the class to be something intentional. She decided that this would be a good way for women to invite friends, neighbors, and co-workers to something non-threatening at the church. The leaders enthusiastically agreed to the outreach plan. When the class started in November 2012, Chadwick’s friend Lilly invited a woman named Rania*. Rania is originally from a Muslim country and lives within walking distance from the church. She is a mother of five, and when asked what her dream job would be, she said she would love to be a dancer. Rania comes to class every week, a big smile on her face.

The most exciting part of this story for Chadwick is that her friend Lilly took a risk and invited Rania. The class offers Lilly and Rania something natural to talk about and enjoy together. Chadwick’s prayer is that their small conversations will turn into bigger conversations. As the class has grown, Chadwick has had many women from the church invite people from work or from their neighborhoods. She is thankful that something as simple as a Zumba class is a place where women can build friendships together and invest in each other’s lives.

-Written by Beth Chadwick, TEAM missionary in Germany
-Photos provided by Beth Chadwick

*not her real name