Belhaven Alum Serves as Missionary, Pastor and Professor in Quebec

When most people think of Christians serving abroad, they think of committed Christians who find themselves as missionaries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia or South America. Serving in Canada may not be something most imagine, but for Luke Bert ’13, serving in Quebec has been part of God’s plan all along.

“Quebec is definitely a post-Christian culture,” said Bert, who currently serves as a professor of Old Testament at a seminary in Quebec. “Until the 1960s, the province was over 90% Catholic!”

During the 1960s, there was a movement in French-speaking Quebec, La Revolution Tranqulle – The Quiet Revolution. The Catholic majority controlled many aspects of life, including politics and education. But the Quiet Revolution pushed for a removal of the church from positions of authority.

“From a spiritual perspective, it was a culture’s rejection of God,” added Bert. “Now religious terms are more likely to be curse words than expression of faith and Christian ideas are often described as “what we used to believe and do.”

Today, less than 0.5% of the population are Bible believing Christians.

“Christians in Quebec feel isolated and forgotten. It is difficult to get Christian resources or even Bibles in French. But Christians here love God and love his church. They are proof that God always preserves his people, even if it is only s small remnant.”

After his time at Belhaven, Bert attended Reformed Theological Seminary and was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

“Belhaven taught me that all of my skills are kingdom skills,” said Bert. “I was able to find a place in the world where my skills were needed and to serve God there. Maybe it is in Jackson or maybe it it is in Quebec or on the other side of the world.”

Luke and his family serve as missionaries through the PCA’s Mission to North America. If you wish to partner with him, you can partner with him through MNA or contact him directly at Lukeb.bert@gmail.com

 

Belhaven Dance Faculty, Students Working to Help Parkinson’s Patients

Dancers are described as many things. Graceful. Beautiful. Creative. Artistic. All are certainly true, but at the heart of it, professionally trained dancers are movement experts. For the 10 million people worldwide that are living with Parkinson’s disease, dancers can provide a unique form of therapy.

A dancer’s expert knowledge about balance, sequencing, rhythm and aesthetic awareness is useful for those with Parkinson’s disease. Founded in 2001 in New York City, Dance for PD provides specialized dance classes to people with Parkinson’s, as well as their families, friends and care partners.

In 2013, trainers from the New York program came to Jackson to lead a teacher training course. Krista Bower, Chair of the Belhaven University Dance Department, was able to get involved and helped launch an affiliate class in Jackson.

“Our participants come from all over the Jackson metro area and some of them have been dancing with us since the beginning of the program,” said Bower. “Our students range from the newly diagnosed to those using canes, walkers or even wheelchairs. All dance phrases are modified by a co-instructor so that everyone can participate and fully enjoy the class.”

The classes are held on Monday evenings on the Millsaps campus. Faculty and students from Belhaven, Millsaps and the University of Mississippi Medical Center are highly involved.

“Dance is a wonderful activity for all people, and specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease because it instills grace, confidence, freedom and fluidity of movement while also building creativity and a sense of community,” added Bower.

Mariah Henry, a senior dance major at Belhaven, chose to research and participate in the Dance for Parkinson’s classes as part of her senior project. She choreographed and printed a dance work that involved Belhaven dance students as well as members of the Dance for Parkinson’s class. Junior dance major Andi Knudson filmed and edited a documentary on the program for her Choreography for the Camera coursework last spring.

“Through this program, students from Belhaven and Millsaps have had the opportunity to engage with community members and to use their gifts to serve others,” said Bower. “They learn about new ways to apply their knowledge from the fields of dance and neuroscience in service to the community.”

For more information on Dance for Parkinson’s, visit www.danceforparkinsons.org . The local program is sponsored by the Millsaps College Community Enrichment Program