One of my favorite ways to nourish my creativity is to feed off the creative gifts of others. I do this by reading a good novel or going to a concert or to the art museum, seeing a play or going to a quilt show. Last Thursday my creativity had a veritable Thanksgiving Day feast when my husband and I and three family members went to see an original ballet entitled “It is Well.” It was performed by the Turning Pointe School of Dance in Holland, Michigan.
What impressed me even before the show started, was reading about the dance troupe itself. The goal of this ministry, founded in 1999, is to offer “Christ-centered, wholesome, artistically pleasing entertainment for the entire family.” To accomplish this, the non-profit organization trains dancers—nearly 400 of them in the Western Michigan area—by following the motto, “preparing the dancer in body and spirit to glorify God through artistic excellence.”
The original performance I attended that night was based on a book I had read several years ago entitled Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman. The Dutch author tells the true story of how she and her fiancé, Hein Sietsma, along with a group of their young friends in the Netherlands, risked their lives to save Jewish families after the Nazi invasion in 1940. Diet was only nineteen years old, but her Christian faith and the deep commitment to God that she and Hein shared made them willing to serve Him no matter the cost.
Their dangerous work with the Dutch resistance led to both of their arrests. Diet was imprisoned then sent to a concentration camp to await trial. In her book, she openly shares the spiritual struggles she experienced during that time and the anger and confusion she sometimes felt toward God. Yet her faith remained strong. Her fiancé Hein suffered imprisonment in multiple concentration camps during the course of the war, but his trust in God also endured. Diet was eventually released and continued working for the resistance until liberation. Hein died in Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany only a few months before the war ended.
Now imagine this moving story set to music and interpreted by a team of creative, talented dancers. With only minimal narration, these artists conveyed all of the drama and emotional passion through movement and rhythm. We watched Diet and Hein meet and fall in love. We saw them working together to smuggle Jews out of danger. The darkness of the Nazi takeover was stunningly portrayed by a mass of dancers in simple black leotards who poured onto the stage and overshadowed the main characters, enveloping them in a gauzy black curtain. Another dancer beautifully symbolized the Holy Spirit’s presence in the concentration camp by lifting up Diet and her fellow inmates when they fell into despair and helping them raise their hands in prayer. As a writer, my medium of expression is words. This powerful experience of storytelling without words took my breath away.
I came home with the creative jolt I was seeking—and more. The performance was a vivid reminder of how each of us can make a difference by obeying God and using our gifts. Diet and Hein served in one of history’s darkest hours by offering themselves to God—and every Jewish family they hid during the war survived. The dancers and choreographers developed and used their talents to bring Him glory, and the audience that night was deeply moved. We were reminded that we’re called to serve Him every day, whether it’s through writing or through dancing or by simply offering a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.
Hein wrote his last letter to Diet on a scavenged piece of paper and tossed it from his overcrowded railroad car on his way to Dachau. Miraculously, the letter was found and made its way to Diet after the war. Part of it reads:
“…even if we won’t see each other again on earth, we will never be sorry for what we did, that we took this stand.”
I wonder how God wants me and you to use our gifts today to share His great love with a hurting world?