A dance ministry that travels all over the world made a stop in Greece Sunday morning, but they’re talking about more than religion.
"The Nicavangelists" are a dancing ministry that travels all over Central America, the United States, and Europe, sharing their love for God with churches, schools, and other groups through performance.
“They’re fantastic. The kids are beautiful, their hearts are beautiful," Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Community Church Vince DiPaola said. "I’m a fourth-degree black belt myself and some of those jump kicks I can’t even do.”
The group started out of Nicaragua in 2012 to help lift troubled kids from the streets of the poorest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
“We started this talent development program to steer them away from sex, drugs, lives of thievery — basically gang life,” Director of the Nicavangelists, Jed Brian, said.
The group now ages from 9 to 26, and every member has their own story.
“When I was 13 years old, I was in gangs and in the streets," member Jorge Valle said. "Smoking drugs, doing cigarettes, alcohol.”
But like everyone in the group, the now-19-year-old found dance and Christianity.
“People just think there’s just one way. Like drugs or doing bad things like stealing from people, fighting with people," Valle said. "But you can do other things. With Jesus, you can do all things.”
But it’s more than just preaching through dance. They also share the culture of Nicaragua, and the dangers their own people face every day.
“They don’t have food, work," Valle said. "The people don’t like to go out at night because they are stealing, killing.”
And Brian says since April, more than 500 people have been killed by the country’s own government.
“It is not a murder or somebody being abducted. It is genocide, people are dying," Brian said. "Tens of thousands are terrified for their future.”
In fact, the group would be unlikely to be welcomed back into Nicaragua.
“The Nicaraguan government does not like any kind of voiced criticism of them," Brian said. "If we return to Nicaragua, we will not make it through immigration. We will be brutally tortured and possibly murdered.”
Despite the danger, they say it’s important to do what they can for their people by spreading the word.
“We have hope and Jesus," Valle said. "He didn’t care if they were going to kill him or anything; he just wanted to share what was happening in the world. So we need to follow his example.”