Interview with 17-Year-Old Dancer, KC BerglundBy Evan Nehring
My blog is about the five great questions of life posed to every Christian young adult. Today I want to focus on the leadership question: what difference will I make? I felt a nudge to get in touch with Killoran Berglund, recently returned from a solo missions trip to the Dominican Republic. The conversation was...well...inspiring!
EN - Alright, hey KC, shall we call you Killoran or KC for this interview?
KB - KC is just fine. Killoran’s a little tricky…
EN - So the reason I wanted to chat with you was all of the great chatter and pictures I saw online about your recent missions trip to the Dominican Republic. I believe you went alone this time, right? But I know you've been on other trips. Give us a little background: how did you come to this decision to go to the DR?
KB - Yes! I was flying solo this time around. I was there for two months, teaching dance to underprivileged girls and ministering (dancing, singing, or preaching… or all of the above) in various other churches. And alright, the meat of the story, haha:
The Call-- Missions has always been close to my heart. From the time I was nine years old, I have been traveling to multiple countries, sharing the joy and love God has put in my heart. Sharing joy with people has always come naturally to me. It brings me tremendous joy to give food to the hungry, to hold the orphaned babies, and to put smiles on the faces of broken people and directing their gazes to the One who gave me my smile. In addition to doing missions work with my family, I have trained in ballet for about six years now. Dance has been an outlet for me to minister to people who wouldn’t normally feel comfortable going to church or hearing the Gospel message. Through dance, I can portray a story that any person can relate to… Through dance, I can point them to Jesus—He gave me the gift of dance, he gave me the joy to dance it, and he gave me a heart for the hurting people in the audience. I love dancing for the purpose of bringing glory to God. He created the gift, so He gets the credit. God has called me to simply LOVE people… To bring them joy, to show them grace, and to make them feel loved.
The Answer-- I went to the Dominican Republic for my second time in December of 2012. While down there, an opportunity at our friend Pastor Eli’s church opened up for me to share a dance. In addition to sharing a dance, I was able to spend two days training the church’s dance team of girls in a more technical way than they were used to. They greatly appreciated the time we spent together. We performed on Sunday evening (their group dance and then my solo), and the church was so touched. Not only did the girls want me to come back again and teach them more, I felt God tugging at my heart, too. In my heart, I knew I needed to come back and not only love these girls by teaching them better dance technique, but I also needed to disciple them and really show them true God-love. Many of the girls on this dance team don’t have father figures, don’t have a safe home-life, and don’t have much attention. Because of that, I was able to be an ambassador for Christ and show them that “Yes! You can have a father because God is your heavenly Father. Yes! You can have a home because your brothers and sisters in Christ are here for you no matter what. And yes! People do love you and care about you.” That was the call God has placed on me: to LOVE the girls of that church by training them in dance, training them in how to live a life pleasing to God, and loving them when no one else would.
EN - Hmmm...discipling people by loving them like Jesus loved us...that sounds pretty biblical! What about a person you connected with in the DR?
KB - A girl I really got to know and bond with in DR was a girl named Scarla. She and I hadn't talked much during my first weeks there mainly just because she wasn't one of the dancers and she worked a lot.. So, sometimes, many times, she couldn't make it to church because of her work schedule. She is 19 years old and spent a few months recently with her dad in Argentina. Her sister and I were actually better friends than she and i were to begin with... But one day, my last week there, the three of us went out for pizza and while we were all laughing and talking as teen girls do (in every culture), she shared her life story (more or less) with me and her goals for the future. And without divulging everything she told me, i can say to you without a doubt (mark my words), that girl (if she stays on this track) is going to impact the world. She has a fire in her belly for the lost and hurting. She is willing to overcome the obstacles to make it to where God wants her to be. She wants to travel the world and just love people. She and I, with our completely different stories, skin color, nationality, and language, were able to connect on so much of a deeper level because of the same dreams we have to serve God with all that we are. Wow. What a girl. She loves God and is willing to do EVERYTHING necessary to chase after Him and His plans for her. Scarla is forever on my heart and in my prayers.
EN - KC, can you tell us a story about an adventure while in the Dominican Republic?
KC - Well, a funny story: One day, my first week there, there appeared a tarantula in my shower (mind you, the term "shower" is used with hesitation because it was really just a bucket of cold water and a cup in a stall). And instead of screaming or running around the bathroom trying to get my towel and LEAVE, i started shouting at the tarantula, in Spanish, "In the name of Jesus, get out of this bathroom! In the NAME of Jesus! Out!" Hahahahaha! Apparently the tarantula understood my Spanish, because within seconds, she scurried away and wasn't found until days later.
EN - Yikes! Sounds like a horror flick in the making. You'll have to talk to your brother, Taylor, about coming up with a production for that! Anyway, talk to me about God's presence. Guiding you on the trip, strengthening you, bringing joy, whatever! Surprise us. How did you experience God's presence in and around this trip?
KB - Wow. I sit and stare at that question with an inability to put into words a fitting answer. Hmm… Well, I can start by saying that God’s presence was indeed WITH me, every step of the way. I think the main way I saw His presence with me (ahh, man, I’m getting teary-eyed) is that when I prayed, He answered. When I prayed for safety, He sent a person to come pick me up from that place. When I prayed for healing, He gave healing to my wounds (The List, haha: the common cold, motorcycle burn, back going out on me, neck going out on me, stomach virus, and probably more that I’m not remembering at this moment) which, if I may add, is HUGE for a dancer. Injuries and pain are rough for anyone; but, when your most necessary tool in ministry is literally your body, it takes on a whole other level of difficulty. When I prayed for God to open doors that He wanted me to walk through and shut the ones of opportunities that He didn’t want me to walk through, He did. And I cried when He shut doors. I cried a lot. Why? Because I didn’t remember that I had prayed for that! Haha! When I remembered one day, “Ohhhh, right! I DID ask you to shut doors you didn’t want me to walk through. Now that I remember that, I’m okay. Thank you, God.” One thing I learned from my time in Dominican, by myself, as a 17 year old high school graduate, GOD IS FAITHFUL. He will never look away for even one second. You may feel that your current situation couldn’t possibly be from God or be allowed by God; but, I have been there, and I can tell you this: God is there, and you are in His hands. You are safe. You are loved. You are where He wants you and where you need to be. You are where you are for a reason. It may not make sense to you right now; but, it will in time. He is faithful.
EN - OK, high school graduate, I'd like to take a whirlwind tour through the seven core values I talk about on the blog.
1. What does worship mean to you?
KB - Worship is the conversation between us and God. The difference to me between prayer and worship is this: there is us and God and a huge table between us. Worship is the chance to converse with God and to take everything that we have, all that is within us, everything that is MOST important in our lives, and put it on the table before God. And I believe He does the same with us during worship. He takes EVERYTHING that He has and gives it to us in return. Worship is the most beautiful example and exchange of love that there is in the universe. I absolutely love worship. Our lives our continual worship before the King… and music is optional. You don’t need to turn on Chris Tomlin in order to be “in worship.”
EN - 2. I know you're a very creative person. I'm curious what sort of variety you bring into your spiritual disciplines of prayer and scripture?
KB - Well, I have much to learn about disciplined time in the Word because like I said before, I am a wee 17 years old. I love reading the Word and figuring out how to apply it directly to my life. J I love the Lord and try to give him as much of my time and attention as He deserves. For a while now, I do not allow myself to get out of bed or do anything else without thanking God for another day and asking Him for help in the present day. I find that different phrases I repeat for a while but for a while there I was saying every morning, first thing, “God, You are greater than ALL of my weaknesses. Help me today.” In the past year, I have set aside all the “first drives of the day” (whatever is the first time in the car of that day) and just prayed out-loud to God for *everything* without stopping… However long the drive, that’s how long I prayed. That was surprisingly difficult because I am not a morning person (Correction: WAS not a morning person. God answered that prayer, too, and changed that in me) and I crave music first thing in the morning. But, when I obeyed the Lord and gave all my attention to Him in the morning, He paid me back throughout the day with MORE joy and MORE energy.
EN - 3. Now that you've had a taste of leaving the nest, what do family and friends mean to you?
KB - Man, all I have to say about that is when you leave the country by yourself for that long (even just two months), you find out who the important people are. I truly realized who my real friends were and how dear they are to me, and how valuable my family is to me. I realized that I am lucky to be in the family I am and to have the few friends I do have. Although I am a very gregarious personality, I really do not have as many friends (*real* friends) as people may think. Last year, I struggled with a false sense of loneliness: I thought that I needed more friends and started to force relationships with acquaintances that weren’t meant to grow. Now, I can say that I am thankful for not the quantity of friends, but the QUALITY of my friends. Thank You, God for great people in my life who inspire me.
EN - 4. It almost seems unfair to ask someone who's been on so many missions trips about outreach. Do you get bored with outreach in the United States?
KB - Hmm, yes. I feel like there is a 5-step method or something along those lines that everyone needs to follow and if you choose NOT to follow it, your ministry is condemned or criticized. God uses the most unlikely people and most unlikely methods. So, we should not criticize or negate a type of outreach that seems different to us or what we are accustomed to. I got some crazy looks for dance outreach when I first started because people thought I was teaching “praise dance” (a string of hand motions with an occasional chase)… which by the way, TOTALLY has a time and place… Praise or liturgical dance is just NOT my forte. I wanted to teach the principal techniques of ballet, jazz, and modern, while still bringing the praise and glory to God. That was my outreach and it worked! Lives were touched… But, yes, it was unconventional, for sure.
EN - 5. I wonder if Christian young adults think much about character. What do you see? And what do you think it means to be like Jesus?
KB - Okay… I KNOW that I am not the average young adult; BUT, I would like to say a huge “YES,” I think a lot about character. I think the inside is so much more important than the outside. For girls, if you spend more time in the morning preparing your hair, face, and body for the day MORE than your heart, mind, and mouth, you’re in trouble. I so want to be like Jesus in every aspect of my life. Other prominent figures (in addition to the greatest: Jesus) that have really inspired me are Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Heidi Baker, Christopher Columbus, and Joyce Meyer. They all gave their lives whole-heartedly to a cause that was dear to their heart. That is inspirational to me.
EN - 6. For personal management, please rank these four things from easiest to scariest, and tell us why.
- Money and career
KB - One to four = easiest to manage to scariest. 1) Possessions (because possessions really are nice sometimes, but you quickly learn how to acclimate without them when they are stripped away), 2) Health, (because if you want to do great things for the Kingdom, you need to be able to function… but I don’t put this as paramount importance because I’ve known people who had horrible health and couldn’t even walk and still impacted lives for Christ 3) Money & Career (because I am a dreamer, the future is a very big part of my life… giving up my plans and putting God’s plan first is a continual battle for me… but each and every time, He has proven that His thoughts and plans for me will leave me better off than my own), and 4) Time (because time is one of those things in life that you can never reverse… once you waste your time, it’s wasted. Those minutes, hours, or days are ones that you can never get back. I pray to God continually that I spend my time wisely, with quality people, talking about things that will eventually impact the Kingdom or make a difference in someone else’s life in the long run.
EN - 7. No pressure here but what difference do you want to make in the world? Where do you see yourself in the broad story of God's kingdom?
KB - Wow. Big question. In short, I want to leave the world more loved than it was before I came into it. For the second question, the role I see for me in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom is this: a small little girl who was capable of practically nothing on her own, who was transformed by God and turned into a (smiling) firecracker of energy, light, and love for the world, doing stuff that is insurmountably unimaginable to everyone around. I want people to look at my life and ask, “How did SHE possibly accomplish/do THAT big of a thing with her life?! She's just KC.” Only by God. What a testament that would be to God’s power! The best part is, I totally think it’s possible. My goal is to hear one day, “Good job, KC. You were my servant, and you made me proud.”
EN - If you could shout one thing to 18-to-20-somethings all over the world trying to follow Jesus, what would it be?
KB - Jesus hears you, sees you, and loves you more than anyone else you know. He will never turn the other way, He will never run away. Everywhere you go in life, even when you think you’re alone, there will ALWAYS be two people: you and Jesus. When you think about that, you might as well have a good relationship between the two.
Thanks so much Evan! God bless you, this blog, all the people reading, and your ministry as a whole! Loved sharing all my thoughts with you. Hope someone is touched by this post.
Comments Are Always Welcome...
Thanks KC, I really appreciate you putting yourself out there. I'm certain your efforts will hit home! We'll be praying for you and following your adventure in the days ahead. Folks, got any takeaways from KC's story?