One of the greatest way that Twitter has served this online magazine, is by hooking us up with some of God's best daughters. And one of those women is none other than Ashani Mfuko who is CEO and President of Kiner Enterprises Inc. We chat heart to heart with her about her faith, marriage and dance.
Inside Woman: Just out of curiosity, what does Ashani mean?
Ashani Mfuko: You know what, I am not even sure. I asked my mom, and she couldn’t even remember lol. Then I tried Googling it, to no avail. Maybe I should make up my own meaning for my name!
Inside Woman: There are so many religions out there, why have you made the Lord Jesus Christ your personal Saviour?
Ashani Mfuko: Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ transformed my life, and He is the only way to access God the Father. John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Ephesians 3:12 says, “In him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Through my faith in Jesus Christ I have experienced so many miracles, and seen incredible transformations in the lives of others, it is simply amazing! The way God has transformed my life, my thoughts, and my behaviour, blows my mind every day. I would not be the person that I am today without Jesus as my Saviour. Period.
Inside Woman: How has the journey been for you?
Ashani Mfuko: It has been filled with challenges, trials, miracles, and triumphs. It has been far from boring, and definitely life-changing.
Inside Woman: How do you stay balanced and simply see yourself in the light of Christ?
Ashani Mfuko: I start and end my day, every day, by reading the Word of God. It allows me to be reminded of who God is, and who I am in Him. The Bible teaches me about how much God loves me, and all of the wonderful plans he has for me. It also gets me excited about being used by him to spread his love to the world, and be a blessing to others. I could never face the challenges and decisions of each day without God’s word and prayer as my foundation.
Inside Woman: What is it that you think we need to do as Christians to show people God’s love so that they see Christ in us?
Ashani Mfuko: I think we should do as Luke 10:27 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.” We have to simply allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to love people the way God does. We must be accepting of people and not judgmental, and respect people. Be kind, patient, understanding, and lend a hand to help uplift someone else. When we’re loving God with all of our heart, mind, and strength, and allowing him, through the Holy Spirit, to cause us to love other people, it allows other people to see Christ in us.
Inside Woman: You are blessed with such a beautiful spirit. What is the one issue you struggled with as a young woman growing up and how did you overcome that?
Ashani Mfuko: Thank you! I think one of the main things I struggled with as a young woman was fully embracing my voice, and who I am in Christ. We each have a unique voice, message, testimony, and purpose ordained by God, and it’s up to us to fully embrace that, and allow God to use us fully. I was always afraid of what other people might think, and of offending someone. I feared public speaking, and drawing too much attention to myself (unless I was dancing lol), and I sometimes felt as though I didn’t have anything significant to say, or offer. Through seeking God, reading the Word, prayer, and some wonderful mentors in my life, I finally realized that, I have a legitimate message and testimony to share with the world, and that by keeping quiet, I wasn’t doing God, or myself any justice. Now, I look at opportunities to share my voice and message, as one of the ways God is using me to share the Gospel, and share his love with the world. It’s not about me, it’s all about Him.
Inside Woman: What drew you to dancing and how old were you when you started dancing?
Ashani Mfuko: My father signed me up for dance classes when I was 10 years old. I wasn’t really all that into it at first because I was really bad lol. But, through his encouragement, I stuck with it, and fell in love with dancing.
Inside Woman: What does dancing mean to you as a Christian and how do you see it as service to God?
Ashani Mfuko: I believe that God gives each one of us specific gifts so that He can use us, and our gifts, to reach a designated group of people throughout our lifetime. Through dance, I have connected with so many wonderful people, whether through teaching dance classes, performing, through my TV show, radio show, or my business. God has used dance in my life, as a way for me to share His love, His joy, His goodness, and faithfulness, with everyone around me.
Inside Woman: What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or mentor that helped you in being a “dancerpreneur”?
Ashani Mfuko: “Owning your own platform is better than renting out space on someone else’s stage.” ~ Marshawn Evans
Inside Woman: Why do you think it’s important for you to understand the business side of dancing?
Ashani Mfuko: I think it’s crucial for dance artists to know that, you are not destined to be a “starving artist”. That was never God’s plan for you. It’s important to have a clear understanding of how much it costs to keep dance alive in our culture, whether through dance performances, dance classes, dance television shows, movies, or dance education. There is a business aspect to our art form, and we need to know how it works. There are costs and strategies required to build an audience to support your work, thrive in our industry, and also be able to give back. The “starving artist” mentality doesn’t get us very far as dancers, and it prevents us from seeing the vast opportunities that exist for us. We need to become more proactive about building dance careers and businesses that are not only successful artistically, but that are also financially prosperous.
Inside Woman: Is there a starting age for dancers and what’s your advice to people who want to dance?
Ashani Mfuko: You can honestly start dancing at any age. If you aspire to become a professional dancer, there are some obvious advantages to starting at a younger age, but your age alone doesn’t determine whether or not you’ll be successful. I honestly think that everyone should dance! There is something so freeing about being able to physically express your creativity, your joys, your sorrows, and your personality. It’s great for your mental and physical health, and is also a wonderful way to give praise to Almighty God.
Inside Woman: What is your advice to Christian women and young girls struggling to find their true passion in life?
Ashani Mfuko: Pray about it. Ask God to help you discover who you truly are in Him, and who He created you to be. The signs are there, but depending upon your upbringing and life experiences, they may be hard for you to see. Ask yourself questions like: What is it that upsets me? What causes me to think, "Somebody ought to do something about that?" What would I do for free, because I love it so much? If I had millions of dollars, and never had to work again, how would I spend my time? What environmental, religious, economic, or social issues am I extremely passionate about? These are questions that will help to give you insight into what your true passion is.
Inside Woman: What are your words of encouragement for people who may have gifts, talents, desires, and dreams but they feel ‘stuck’?
Ashani Mfuko: People feel ‘stuck’ because what they do on a daily basis doesn’t reflect what they believe their God-given purpose is, or what they are actually capable of doing. There’s a disconnect between who they know they are destined to become, and who and where they are today. My advice is again, to pray, read the Word of God, and ask God for guidance on how you can become the person He created you to be, and begin using your gifts and talents right where you are. Then, find ways that you can incorporate your gifts, talents, desires, and dreams into your life right now. You may need to start small, and start doing these things only on the weekends, after work, or doing it for free for a while at first. Work on developing your skills and talents, and growing in the areas that you desire to pursue and work in, and have faith to believe that where you are now is just preparation, not your destination. Your ups, downs, failures, trials, and challenges, are all a part of your journey of becoming who God created you to be. Start planning and preparing for the future that you desire, let God lead you, and then take the small daily steps that will help to get you there.
Inside Woman: With your amazingly full life, and all the wonderful work you are involved in, how do you keep your marriage and career strong?
Ashani Mfuko: Prioritize. At the end of the day, you make time for what really matters and for who’s really important to you. I take the biblical principles regarding honoring your husband and putting him first, very seriously, so my husband/marriage is always my top priority. As far as my career goes, I love what I do. It is my passion, and my calling. So God gives me the strength, grace, energy, and motivation I need to keep going strong every day. Sometimes I stay up late at night because I’m working on a project that I’m so passionate about for my business. Every day that I wake up, I’m overwhelmed with excitement to start the day, and see what God has in store for me. However, when my husband wants to spend time with me, or wants my attention, I drop what I’m doing. That’s part of how you keep your marriage strong; show your spouse that they are your top priority.
Inside Woman: How long have you been married?
Ashani Mfuko: 3 years of wedded bliss (March 2013)!
Inside Woman: How did you know that your husband was the “one” you wanted to spend the rest of your earthly days with?
Ashani Mfuko: I prayed to God and told Him that I was ready (really ready) to get married, and that I wanted to do things his way. I told God that I wanted to honour Him in every aspect of my life, and that I wanted a Godly husband who would want to do the same. After being in a long-term relationship prior to meeting my husband, I knew that I didn’t want to make the same mistakes that I had made in the past. I met my husband at Church, and we were friends for almost two years before we started our courtship. I call it a courtship because that’s exactly what it was. We started the relationship with the intent to get married, and with marriage as our goal, and spent time courting each other to get to know one another better, and prepare for marriage. After being friends for almost 2 years, my husband invited me to a service at our Church at which He was going to be baptized. I went to Church that evening and saw Him get baptized, and while in prayer during service, I heard that still, small voice from God say, “He is the one that you’ve been praying for”. That night everything changed, and apparently, my husband felt the same way about me! I told my mom when we first got together, that being with him was like breathing. It was completely natural, and effortless. We started our courtship, and six months later we were married in a beautiful New York City ceremony. It was my dream wedding!
Inside Woman: What keys have you learned about being a godly woman and wife?
Ashani Mfuko: Before we left for our honeymoon, my mother-in-law gave me the book, “The Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian, and it changed my life. It gave me such awesome insight into what being a godly wife is all about. A few of the keys that I’ve learned are: 1) Prayer changes things. Praying for your husband, over your marriage, and over your own spirit and attitude is crucial to the success of your marriage. 2) Learn how to curb your tongue. There are many times, as a woman, when you may want to say something that either doesn’t need to be said, or shouldn’t be said at a certain time, or with a certain tone. Again, it’s important to pray for God’s guidance and grace to ensure that you always speak to your husband with respect and love, and know when you don’t need to speak at all. 3) Only God changes people. God never asks us or calls us to change anyone, and when you try to change your husband, your only create frustration and resentment in your marriage. Leave the changing to God, and focus on allowing God to change you, and he will take care of the rest.
Inside Woman: Nowadays many women are very aggressive and desperate when it comes to securing a husband. What can they do to trust God to orchestrate their love story?
Ashani Mfuko: Fall in love with Jesus. When you’re busy loving God, and focused on doing His will, He will bring you the Godly man He has for you, who is also doing the same thing. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Our focus should be on seeking God, and fulfilling the purpose He has for our lives, and then we can trust Him to take care of the rest. God knows who is best for you. Never try to force a relationship, or convince a person to marry you, by putting pressure on them, or giving ultimatums. The man God has for you will love you, appreciate you, and be motivated and excited to marry you.
Inside Woman: Did you struggle with being single and what message do you have for single women reading this?
Ashani Mfuko: I definitely did at various stages of my life. But during those years, I wasn’t fully submitted and surrendered to God. I was serving Him, but still trying to do my own thing at the same time, which doesn’t work. When I fully surrendered to God, and gave Him all of my dreams and desires, and said, ‘Lord, I trust you’, things changed. Then it became easier to embrace being single and recognize it as a training ground for becoming the woman and wife that I hoped to be some day. For the single women reading this I would say, take advantage of the time, energy, and focus you have now, as a single woman, to get closer to God, and discover more about who you are in Him. Do things that you love, try new experiences, and enjoy time with your family and friends. Your single years are preparation for your future marriage. Take this time to grow and develop into the person that God has created you to be, and be excited for what’s to come.
Inside Woman: How important is it for you to have the support of matured Christian women surrounding you? It’s extremely important!
Ashani Mfuko: My mom, my sisters, my closest friends, and family all offer so much wonderful support to me, it’s priceless. It’s so wonderful when you have friends and family that you can call on to pray for you and speak life and encouragement into your situation when you’re going through tough times. You have to have a wise and strong support system of believers in your circle to keep you grounded and strong.
Inside Woman: It seems that women (more so than men) tend to struggle with issues like gossip and backbiting, and are often too quick to take offense. How can we help women to curb those so called natural female tendencies to really have healthy relationships that last?
Ashani Mfuko: First you need to love God, and love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, you’re going to find it very difficult to love other people. God calls us to love one another, and even our enemies. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” I think that we, as women, need to really pray over how we speak to ourselves, first and foremost, and also over how we talk to, and about one another. As the saying goes, “hurt people, hurt people”. So many times, gossip is an expression of someone’s inner pain being displayed through negative or harsh words about someone else. This is unacceptable behaviour and something that we need to be delivered from, and can be delivered from through Jesus Christ. If you want healthy relationships that last, you have to be kind, patient, understanding, supportive, and loving towards other people. When you have an issue with someone, go to them directly and talk it out in an honest and calm manner. So much gossip stems from simple misunderstandings, or he said, she said. We need to commit to only speaking words that edify others, and not hang around women who gossip. Gossip is like a poison that you have to take first before you can give it to someone else. Just stay away from it.
Inside Woman: As a woman does it matter how you look like on the outside?
Ashani Mfuko: Absolutely! Our external image is the first thing people see, and the first means by which they judge us. So, yes, it matters. I think every woman should make a conscious effort to eat healthy, exercise, and look her best. It’s not about being a certain size, or wearing name brand clothes, it’s about looking your best, and putting time, effort, and care into how you present yourself to the world. How we look on the outside doesn’t matter to God, but we are his messengers, and His Church. He is our king. So we should present ourselves in a way that honors His greatness, and the testimony of His goodness, faithfulness, and provision in our lives. That is part of how we’re able to connect with other people to share the gospel. But you have to have more than just great looks on the outside. You can look beautiful, and be a bitter, angry, unforgiving, or jealous person on the inside. That’s no good! Your outward appearance should reflect the freedom and joy that you have on the inside because of Jesus Christ.
Inside Woman: There are so many negative influences bombarding women from a very early age about what is acceptable, attractive and appropriate. How can women combat and avoid these poor influences to ensure that they are God instructed rather than world instructed?
Ashani Mfuko: Psalm 139:14 says, “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.” God created us in his image, and made each one of us different and unique. We are not supposed to look like anyone else, and we don’t need to aspire to be someone else. Our goal should be to become the person that God created us to be, and embrace what we consider to be beautiful about ourselves, as well as our flaws. With all of the negative influences bombarding young women, through the media, magazines, blogs, etc., I think it’s important for young girls and women to know that their value comes from God. He sets the standard, not the media, or the people around you. The overtly sexual images portrayed in mainstream media tend to skew young women’s views of what is attractive, acceptable, and appropriate. Again, having godly standards, and godly women around you, to whom you can look up to, will help young women to recognize that focusing on having a particular body type, or over-exposing yourself to get the attention of men, is not the way to go. Love God, love yourself, and find your value in who he says you are. He made you the way you are for a reason. Celebrate it, and don’t try to become like someone else. You were created to be different.
Inside Woman: You are handling success well. If you could sit down with some of the young girls and give them advice, what would you say to them?
Ashani Mfuko: Thank you. I would say, God created you for a very special purpose, and that there is no one else in the world like you. You never need to feel alone, lost, unworthy, or unloved, because Jesus loves you so much that He died for you, that you might have access to the incredible life that God has for you. All of the answers that you will look for throughout your life are found in Him. The sooner you surrender your life to Christ, and the more you seek God for guidance and direction, the better off your life will be. Your identity is in Him, and He loves you very much. He wants you to live a life filled with peace, joy, and love, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less than that. He will take every experience that you go through, good or bad, and use it for something good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ~ Romans 8:28
Inside Woman: When you are not working what do you do to relax?
Ashani Mfuko: I love to walk! I can literally go for a walk around the city for hours, and be completely relaxed and satisfied. I find walking to be very relaxing, and a great time to reflect, pray, and hear God’s voice. Hubby and I also like to watch movies together at home. I love to read books and fashion magazines as a way to relax as well.
Inside Woman: What’s on the radar for you in 2013?
Ashani Mfuko: A lot! I published an e-book near the end of 2012 called, “Finance Your Dance: How To Turn Your Passion Into Profit”, along with an online training course to empower dance artists all over the world, with knowledge about social media marketing, online branding, personal development, and how to earn more money. In 2013, I’ll be doing more public speaking engagements, private coaching, consulting, and creating more products to help empower, encourage, and motivate passionate dancers, artists, and entrepreneurs around the world. I’m heading into the second season of my dance TV show, “Inside New York City Dance”, which I Co-Executive Produce (with my husband) and host, so I’m excited about that. I’ll be continuing to teach Advanced Jazz dance classes at The Joffrey Ballet School here in NYC, and plan to do some dance performances this year as well. Who knows what else God has in store for me! I just want to continue to be used for his glory, to help others discover their unique greatness and purpose, and to be a blessing to others in 2013.
Here are some links to get in touch with Ashani: