I would like to share with you a story about a woman at my church who has impacted thousands of people’s lives. I tell her all the time she’s my hero and when I grow up I want to be just like her. It’s a big deal to say someone has “changed your life.” But that’s what this woman has done: forever changed my life, the life of my family, the lives of the couple of hundred people she has directly touched, and the several thousand people that those people have touched. We’ll call her JR.

JR is an aerobics instructor. She has taught various aerobic classes for many years. About 3 years ago she got the idea to start a free Zumba class at our then brand-new-not-even-a-year-old church (Compass Community Church). She offered a free class every Saturday morning. We started out with about 4 – 8 people every week, mainly women from the church. Sometime over the next year the class exploded. We spent many weeks filled to capacity. The room we were in wasn’t very big but we sometimes would get 30 – 40 people in there. Over the 3 years the mailing list for the class has grown to near 200 people.

Our church has changed locations and the class has changed time; people still come. The outcome of this free little class has included 3 new instructors, many pounds lost, improved health, and outreaches that have raised money and collected supplies for various causes. The ripple effects of this “ministry” has been amazing.

1. Personally, I finally started losing weight and keeping it off. I’ve struggled with my weight for years. While I’m still a little ways from my goal, Zumba is the first exercise regimen I’ve liked and stuck with. Thanks to the class I’ve lost over 20 lbs. I love it so much I became an instructor. I now have my own class and I help JR with the class on Saturday mornings. My new focus on fitness has impacted my son and husband who both have been exercising more and eating better.

2. Not only did I become a Zumba instructor, but so did 3 other ladies from the class, including 2 from our church. These ladies have gone on to start classes of their own and help sub so we can keep the free Saturday class going. They are now impacting the lives of many women as their classes reach more people.

3. Numerically, I have no idea how much weight has been lost, but I know many, many women who have come through our class who are shedding excess pounds and getting healthier. They may not have been willing to go to the gym, but they were willing to try out a free class, one they ended up loving and stuck with. They’ve found other Zumba classes throughout the city so they can exercise 2 or 3 times a week. And their success is impacting the people around them. We often have a people come to our class and return the following week with their sister or cousin or friend.

4. We’ve had a couple of women start attending our church so their spiritual lives are being impacted as well.

5. We’ve held fundraisers that have raised money for a local school, sent a donation to a woman who had lost everything in a fire, and collected water for Haiti and soap for Japan.