Relevents: Danielle Diakanwa
Danielle Diakanwa, youth ministry director for the Times Square, N.Y., Corps, speaks with SAConnects about her love of dance and the challenge of being an overseas mission team leader. She also offers advice to Christians who are going away to college.
I’ve been practicing dance since I was 14. I began through The Salvation Army as a way to worship the Lord. I later took some courses in college. Now that I’ve moved to New York, I’ve been blessed to get more opportunities to train. Doing so has helped in my ministry, making me feel more comfortable as a speaker and a performer. Dance is physically challenging and can be difficult, but it’s also such a freeing experience.
I debated going to a secular or a Christian college. Finally I decided on Stony Brook University. I was happy to choose a college where I could exercise my faith. I made lifelong friends in the dance groups and in faith gatherings with other Christians. But my faith was tested when I met people who had opposing beliefs. College can provide an open exchange of ideas and discussions. We were able to respectfully disagree, but we also found common ground. I would advise anyone going to a college or a university to really discover why you are a Christian. Go far. Challenge your beliefs and those of others. Doing so builds character, and you will come out as a stronger follower of God.
Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson, is a 40–day devotional in which readers write prayer requests and circle them every day until the prayers are answered. I began the book when I became the Times Square Corps youth ministry director. I wanted to see how God would appear in my life. Soon after that, I was surprised and blessed with the opportunity to do a work–study program at Broadway Dance Center. I didn’t even know that the opportunity was an option for me, but the Lord knew.
1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” At one point in my life, I was nervous to be in front of an audience. The verse from Corinthians made me realize that those fears were trivial, and that as I trusted in God, He would ease my mind. I knew that He was calling me to take a larger role in ministry rather than simply be a passive bystander. I thought, whether I’m here or not, God has plans for His Church. So why not embrace and participate in those plans?
interview by Hugo Bravo