I joined Restored to Glory in 2008-9 season after watching the prior spring’s show- my mom and I stood in line to sign up as soon as the program was over. Little did I know as a 9-year-old girl just what this company would be for me. Throughout my life, Restored to Glory has played such a pivotal role in my faith development, character development, and friendships. One of the reasons I picked to attend the high school I went to was so that I could continue to dance. I was able to dance one year of college, and now that I have graduated, I choose to dance at RTG again. Not only have I learned how to dance, but many deeper lessons.
Each week in class we study the Bible to learn about the background behind our program for the spring. I have so much knowledge now of the Exodus, Revelation, the armor of God, women of the Bible, how God can use our stories in His story. This study time has cultivated in me a deep desire to know God’s Word.
Restored to Glory became my community, my people. I was empowered each week to go back out to the hurting and broken world knowing that I wasn’t alone, because there was a whole class of girls that were all trying to live this life for Christ, just like I wanted to.
It became my Church. When church hurts were piled on, I found solace and the importance of the Kingdom of God and His people in dance class each week. God reminded me through dance class how important it is to do this Christian walk with others.
The teachers there became mentors, women who I saw the Lord in- their fervor for His Word, for knowing Him, for living life how He calls us to. I love to learn from them, glean wisdom from them, watch their passion for Him.
I was taught that life and worship is a full body experience- mind, body, spirit- that Jesus wants every single part of us. He created us as these beings, with these bodies, to bring glory to Him in everything we do.
Dance was an easy way to share the Gospel with my friends and family who didn’t know about Jesus. Yearly I had friends who would never step foot in a church service with me show up to our spring recitals to watch me dance.
In every way, Restored to Glory has made me a better woman, friend, Christ-follower, nurse, and missionary.
I truly believe that each moment of our performances are a taste of what Heaven will be like. Hundreds of people, from all different backgrounds, worshiping united with all that we are before His throne. There is nothing like it. The very first dance I ever learned at Restored to Glory was Amy Grant’s “When We All Get to Heaven.” I envisioned as a young girl each time we practiced that dance that I was performing it with my classmates on streets paved with gold before God on His throne, forever. I couldn’t wrap my brain around how I wouldn’t get tired enough to have to stop dancing… This continued to be a theme each year, when during the Revelation year our “Throne Room” dance made it even more tangible. I truly believe that I will get to dance for eternity with Jesus in Heaven, and I am thankful that Restored to Glory gives me tastes of that here, as well as allows me to invite as many others as possible into that glorious future, too.
“Let them praise His name with dancing, for the Lord is enthroned by the praises of His people.” – Psalm 139:3-4
“David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” – 2 Samuel 6: 14-15
“Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy Lord our God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’” – Revelation 4:8b-11
Restored to Glory has had such a wonderful impact on my life. I started with Restored to Glory when I was in the 3rd grade (1992) and danced through my senior year of high school (with a small break in the middle). It was such a positive and faith growing part of my childhood. Dancing showed me how to worship God with every part of me and I always felt God's presence so strong with me while worshiping Him through dance. I know that my experiences in Restored to Glory helped me to stay strong in my faith through my high school and college years when so many walk away from their faith. I loved being able to share God's love with others though dance and to see how powerful it can be. Fast forwarding to the present day, my two daughters are in Restored to Glory and I love the impact that it is having on their lives, from hearing about their bible studies to seeing them learn how to fully engage in worshiping God through dance and their excitement to share that with others. In a world filled with so many activities being offered to our kids, I am so blessed that they are able to be a part of this one that really grows their faith and is so much fun. Restored to Glory is such a powerful and life changing ministry and I am so glad that we have been and continue to be able to be a part of.
When I was 3 years old my family took me to watch my cousin’s dance program. That was the first time I saw Restored to Glory. I may have been little, but I knew I had to be a part of it. That fall I started dance, and I still remember how exciting that first class was. My teachers were so much fun and I remember how cool it was learning that something that I loved to do could be used to worship God.
Growing up Restored to Glory was more than just an extra curricular activity. It’s given me friends that encourage me in my walk with the Lord. Some of my closest friends to this day are those that I grew up in dance class with. It’s never been just about dance here. This ministry has taught me what true worship is, and how to glorify God through everything you do. From little on RTG helped grow my relationship with Jesus and continues to strengthen it today! The weekly Bible studies during class helped me understand the stories we were telling the audience in the program and I learned so much! It’s been so crucial in strengthening my relationship with Jesus!
There is such a focus on unity here that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. My teachers have always poured into me and have always been quick to pray for me whether it was a praise or something was hard. The environment here is so encouraging and uplifting. When the world is so focused on competition, and it’s so beautiful that we all have the same goal here—to glorify God!
When I was 16 I was invited to join the staff as an assistant. Now as a teacher I feel so blessed to be able to watch kids experience their exciting first week of dance class and teach them the same things I was taught. All ages learn that we can use dance to worship God. It’s such a beautiful thing to see kids learning how to praise the Lord.
I’m truly so grateful for Restored to Glory. I’ve learned so much about prayer, worship, and dance technique here. RTG holds such a special place in my heart & I’m thankful to be a part of this ministry that’s been so important in my relationship with Jesus!
I had always wanted to dance, but all of the dancing in the area where we lived was very secular with skimpy outfits and shaking rear ends. When I was 11 (2003), my best friend invited my family to the 'Display of his Splendor' program, and we attended the Friday night program. My parents and I sat in amazement through the entire program. We had never experienced worship on this level. After the program I begged my parents to let me spend the night with my best friend so that I could attend again the next day. I so wanted to be a part of this ministry, but my family lived over an hour away, and it wasn't possible during that stage of life. But every year without fail we were in the audience, so we could experience what my mom refers to as the best worship experience of the year. Every year the program spoke to exactly what we needed to hear. Through these presentations we experienced healing, restoration, freedom, and breaking of chains. God always spoke directly to the need that was present in our life. We left every year feeling like He had specifically crafted this program for us. This wasn't just something that was a fun presentation of an extracurricular activity that the students had done through the year; this was a ministry experience where every aspect had been prayed over, and God was actively moving through each and every dance to minister to the audience. I am beyond thankful for the time RTG poured into teaching their dancers to worship and to allow God to move through their worship to minister to others.
We attended programs for 6 years before God opened the door for me to be a part of weekly classes. My parents sacrificed time and resources to make this a priority for our family. My first year we studied how God had created dance, like everything else, to bring Him glory, but Satan had stolen it and distorted it for his own pleasure and purposes. This wasn't something I had ever heard! Every week I climbed in the car and spent most of our hour driving home talking about what we had learned that day. Throughout the year RTG became my community, my friends, my family. The teachers poured into my life, genuinely caring for what was happening in my world at home, praying for me when I was experiencing hardship and loss, rejoicing with me in times of joy. God used RTG as a balm to begin healing hurts that I didn't even know I was holding on to. As we came to the program we sang together as a ministry, asking God to 'unite our hearts to fear his name.' We sang of how we wanted to 'walk in his truth' and then we asked him to 'teach us his ways'. We also took time before each and every program to cleanse our hearts before God, confessing and asking for forgiveness, so that there was no sin between us and God to be a barrier to our ministering to the audience. Every aspect of the program was for God and his glory. My family had always been very active in ministry, but I had never experienced such a fervent plea for God to be lifted high on our praise and His name made great. I am so thankful for the way RTG has taught me to bring my praise before the throne and to offer up my worship as an invitation to draw others into worship to God, so that he can minister to their needs.
When I graduated from high school, God opened the door for me to be a part of RTG's teaching staff. I have never been a part of anything that strives for unity in the way RTG does. The hours upon hours spent in prayer, asking for God to unify us as a staff and as a ministry continues to humble me. I have never worked with another group of people that I feel as connected with as I do with the staff at RTG. God has taught me so much through my years at RTG; in leading others with a humble heart, in working as a team without any ego, in taking correction from authority, and most of all, in continually asking God to unify our hearts so that we can do His will and bring Him praise. I am so thankful that God has placed my family in this city, so that I can continue to be a part of this ministry. I am thankful that I now have the privilege of watching my own children begin to dance at RTG and getting to see them beginning to understand how their dancing is a present for Jesus and that they want to praise Him. Thank you Restored to Glory for continuing to pour into generation after generation, and for your continuing dedication to teaching others to worship, and bringing glory to God's name.
I’m Olivia. I was a dancer at Restored to Glory for 12 years, and was a part of the teaching team for 4.5 years. I truly believe RTG prepares young students to fulfill the Great Commission. Each week I learned the importance of my personal relationship with God, but also the importance of unity as the body of Christ. I have never experienced such authentic unity in any place like I did at RTG. From the age of 6, I had teachers that boldly proclaimed their faith, and took joy in glorifying God. They trained me not only in dance, but in the knowledge and application of the Word. We spent months joyously practicing with our classmates, and the true purpose of our dance was spoken each week: worshiping our King. Then, toward the end of the year, I learned to invite others, regardless of their beliefs, to worship the Lord with me at our spring performance.
Dancing was something that always felt vulnerable to me. A place where my deepest heart for worship was expressed. Because of my 12 years of dancing at RTG, I have learned the value of authentic worship in showing others the character of God and in learning who He is in my own life.
A poem for dancing:
She waits for the swell, the rise, and the fall.
Immersed in the music, wholly fixed on the King.
Her heart is inside out,
Weeping and smiling.
Another tear slips as her hands reach toward Heaven.
Her form is broken.
Her muscles despair.
Her steps are uncertain.
A gift so imperfect, flawed, and unworthy.
Wholly unfit for a King.
But Jesus, care and tenderness in his palms,
Carries her movements,
Replaces her breath,
Steadies her faltering.
So she may use everything she is to profess the joy that is in her heart.
Her offering is little,
But the King is mighty.
Thundering and gentle, His voice commands:
Dear and sacred, till the days are gone,
Let her praise the Father with all her might.
So again and again, she dances.
I keep thanking Jesus for dancing. And I keep thanking Him for Restored to Glory where I learned how.
For 14 years of my life, I have been loved, encouraged, trained, and mentored by the Spirit’s work through Restored to Glory. I’ve learned that praise and worship is first a heart posture. I’ve been coached on how to study Scripture and invest in the living and breathing Word of God. I’ve been taught what it means to participate in diligent mind & body worship, using everything I can to bring glory to Jesus. And I’ve seen and experienced what Biblical unity with a body of believers can look/feel like.
For me, RTG represents a home, a family, and a significant part of where my spiritual formation took place. All three of my older sisters were involved as kids so I understood what RTG was almost from the beginning. Though I was so small, I can remember almost bursting with anticipation of when I would get to join and be a part of the ministry on my own. Little did I know that this community I stepped into would become the place I feel closest to Jesus. Now being a student here for over ¾ of my life and an assistant/teacher for the last 4 years, it continues to be one of the most abundant blessings in my life. And through Jesus’ calling on Restored to Glory, I have been stretched and shepherded in countless different ways.
I thank Jesus for the work He has done in me (and in so many others around me) through Restored to Glory’s heart. And I thank Jesus that it’s never been about the glory of the dance or the dancer, but only for the Glory of the King - for He takes delight in the offering, even in our weakness.
In May 1999 our daughter had her first dance recital with another dance company. She was three turning 4 that school year. She did ballet and tap that year and we had only seen the little dancers and their dances until the recital night. After the first “big kid” dance my husband leaned over and whispered in my ear, “if she loves it and wants to continue, then you better find a different dance company because our daughter is NOT wearing those outfits ever!“ The older dancers had in my very protective husband‘s opinion distasteful costumes and many of their moves were provocative or of a sexual nature. We both agreed. We had to change dance companies.
I had danced in elementary school and loved it. Our daughter loved to free dance whenever she heard music. She was little but had already accepted Jesus and knew she wanted to be a missionary. So I began asking about dance classes with friends, neighbors, anyone I could, and had really decided it was probably a closed door. The one Christian dance company that we knew of had shut down a year or so before. We knew of no other companies. Wanzie had a best friend and both girls wanted to dance. I was doing private daycare in my home and this little girl came to my house every day. Our girls danced all day to Donut Man or Mary Rice Hopkins and any other Christian music that I had going on at the time. Most classes for four and five--year-olds was filling up and no school could tell me their outfits for that season yet or their dance “standards.” Again, I assume this was a close door.
One of the first weeks in August, I had three separate encounters with three friends about dance - these friends didn’t know each other to my knowledge. But all three had referred me to RTG. I called. They had exactly 2 spots open in the four and five year old class. Our daughter and her best friend took those two spots. And the rest is as they say “history.” I watched and observed all that season. I volunteered for nothing. I wanted to see if this would be different or would this break our daughter’s heart if she had to quit due to the things or standards that we may differ with. Wanzie Grace came home each week talking non-stop about dance, the Bible study, and how Jesus loves dance and it was our gift to him. “We don’t have to be perfect mama, we have to have a clean heart.” From the mouths of babes.
After year one, I became helper mom, head of volunteers, volunteer/call mom coordinator. My title changed but I would remain active for the next 18 years in Restored to Glory. I would serve 19 years- more time than my son and daughter! My daughter danced from 1999 to 2013. She would eventually become an assistant and then a teacher. She returned periodically throughout her college and post college years. Our younger son danced several years during his elementary - high school years. What a powerful testimony for a boy to dance confidently, manly and for the Lord. So powerful! So anointed.
Every person we talk to about dance we told them about RTG. RTG is not perfect but they serve a perfect God. The leadership prays over every detail, every volunteer, the costs of outfits, the design and God-honoring fit of those outfits, for the dancers, their families. It’s not said lightly. It’s lived out. I witnessed this over and over.
Our kids are adults now but they still have quality friendships from their
RTG helped disciple and encourage our kids in their faith walks. As my children learned and grew, Jay and I learned and grew alongside them. My daughter at age 5 had a deeper understanding of real worship than her 30 year old mama. RTG and the influence it had, has, and continues to have is hard to fully understand. RTG was much more than a dance class, a youth group, a place to have fun with friends, or a safe extracurricular activity. It’s all of that and more.
Every year a teacher graduated Wanzie Grace cried. She would write them and pray for them. Those college students would write back and encourage my daughter. The impact is eternal! Today she is still in contact with many of those teachers as friends and sisters in Christ.
Putting what RTG has meant to us as parents and our family is hard - the English language limits me.
My grandmother in 2010, was dying. I had received the phone call and Wanzie and I were headed to my grandma’s house. Wanzie was obviously shaken and I ask her “who can I call honey, so you don’t have to come in to grandma’s house?” She was young. She immediately said, “Miss Peggy. “ Honestly I didn’t want to bother Peggy. But that was the first person my daughter thought of, felt safe with. I called and Peggy stopped whatever she was doing on that Saturday morning and met us at my grandma’s house. She took my child. I knew my girl was safe, loved and could be comforted and talk openly while we were dealing with the death of my grandmother. I was wreck! But God knew what we needed at that moment. Peggy was a gift! Peggy was obedient and came to serve our family by loving my daughter.
RTG is so much more than a dance class to Christian music. RTG is family praying with, loving each other, worshiping together. Words fall short but I am so thankful for the ministry and friendship our family has because of RTG. My life, my children’s lives and our walk with the Lord is deeper and more beautiful because of the time we spent involved in participating in the ministry of RTG.
Restored to Glory Dance Ministry has impacted my life, my family’s life, my community, and the world. I started at RTG in 1999 with my best friend at the time. Over 20 years later, I am still friends with several girls from that class. We have done life together, been to weddings, moved across the country, shared the gospel, started families, seen people get healed, and advanced in careers, this all began at RTG.
At RTG, I learned to hide God’s word in my heart, pray for others, seek God’s word, pray for healing and restoration, worship Him with my heart – mind- spirit – body, and share this with others. When there were challenges in my family the RTG family was there, there was prayer, community support, and finical aid. When I missed my dance teachers because they moved away to college, they became my pen pals. When I needed a ride, Miss Katie took me to class. When my grandparents died Miss Peggy and other RTG family members watched me and supported my family. When I was 13years old I was asked to join the teaching team. The mentoring and investment Miss Peggy and the other teachers put into my life impacted more than just me. The way they molded God’s love and family has shaped the way I engage with those around me. I then had the chance to go support the dancers I taught. I have been to countless birthday parties, soccer games, weddings, school programs, and funerals though relationships made at RTG. My little brothers and dad were ushers, greeters, one of them danced at RTG for a few years. To this day my family talks about the way people at RTG have impacted their lives. My mom (Miss Shellie) was the backstage coordinator for decades.
Since high school, I have taught dance and the things I learned at RTG around the world. Children at a local daycare, at risk youth at a community center in Chicago, pastors in Cambodia, missionaries in Uganda, and my local church have been taught to praise God with dancing because of what was instilled in my heart at RTG. I moved back to Fort Wayne, in 2019 and returned to RTG. I am now in my 17th year and so thankful for gift it still is in my life. In every season RTG has been family and pointed me to Jesus Christ.
My 5-year-old self had no idea that a dance class would turn into a passion, that relevés and pliés could become worship, or that some of the friendships would continue on more than two decades later. RTG has been a family to me. Despite growing up and moving out of state, I can visit and still feel at home. For me, RTG is the home you return to.
Please do not be mistaken:
As a part of RTG, you will learn dance technique and how to use movement to glorify God. Even more valuable to me, though, was how I learned to dive deep into the meaning of the music I was dramatizing and to value discernment and pause as spiritual disciplines.
I remember two lessons very clearly:
1) As a teaching assistant, I was SO ready to become a teacher, but I was not always very good at patiently listening and learning as a part of the process. Those who knew me told me that I had the makings of a good teacher, but I was simultaneously exhorted to wait to use these skills until the correct time. Now, I am a public school teacher, and this lesson has still remained true: I often must discern when it is time to be the leader versus the follower.
2) I remember a particular class another week. We had finished Bible study and were beginning to review choreography. Suddenly, a student who was rarely absent appeared at the door with her mom, very shaken up. The mom explained that they had been in a car accident on the way to dance class but were physically safe. There would always be new choreography to learn, old dances to review, and techniques to improve upon... But in that moment, our teacher knew that our class was a safe place for this student. We prayed over her and her family as a class, because that was more important than the day's lesson plan. As an RTG student, I, too, have been the blessed recipient of such a "pause" more than once. These memories are reminders of how I can better love on those around me, not later, but now, making the most of every opportunity before me.
To me, RTG is a place of vulnerability and growth.
In addition to learning these life lessons, I also discovered how to worship God, not just at church, but in every moment as I used my physical body. I learned new moves and techniques, as well as how to connect them together to create a dance. Moving out of town for college was one of the hardest things I had every done, as it required to step away from RTG. But my passion for dance and a full-embodiment of worship has not disappeared. Since 2012, I have helped introduce worship dance to my college and seminary campuses--places that did not originally allow dance, because others did not believe dance could be worship. For me, RTG was a training ground.
As I explain Restored to Glory to friends here in Kentucky, it is difficult for them to grasp the essence of RTG. It is a training ground, a family, a true ministry... all in the midst of learning to dance as an act of worship. It is a true blessing to have this ministry in the Fort Wayne area! I have yet to find anything else that compares.
For all of these reasons and more, I pray that my future children will be able to participate in activities that are also ministries pouring into and molding them as deeply as RTG has me. I hope you will consider this ministry for your own family as well as a beautiful addition to your church home.