On February 7th Woodridge hosted Night to Shine (NTS), Sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. NTS is a prom for individuals with special needs centered around God’s love for all people. What makes NTS unique is that it is run by volunteers from all over, not just church members. We had teens and adults from Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita, and even as far as Conroe come out to help. There were volunteers from local auto companies, charity organizations, and even therapists/nurses came out to dance and karaoke the night away!
God tells us to love like Him and to share the good news with all and of course that includes individuals with special needs, but the world often forgets or neglects this population. I see it as a special needs mom often. Our kids, teens, and adults with special needs aren’t typically valued and honored in the way others are, and that simply isn’t God’s truth or desire.
As the Special Needs Ministry Director, I was in charge of training the buddies for NTS. Each buddy was assigned to hang out with an honored guest for the evening. I noticed how some of the buddies were a bit uneasy at first. I certainly didn’t blame them…differences can be scary, can’t they? They wanted to do a good job, but were curious if they were trained enough, had enough gifts or talents, or if they were going to say the right things. Some had never interacted with individuals with special needs and were apprehensive.
The night started out with people without disabilities talking to individuals with special needs, but it ended with barriers and walls being torn down and people simply talking to people. Everyone was dancing, singing, eating and laughing. That is God’s love-breaking the barriers of differences, abilities, backgrounds, and anything else that may be getting in the way to simply show people that they are loved and valuable to God. Each is so valuable that while God is perfectly without sin and our sin separates us from Him, He sent his only son, Jesus, to live a perfect life so that He could take the punishment of our sin for us. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day, He paid our punishment in full! He died for every single person, and that includes individuals with special needs. Because He loves us, we love. Because He gave His best for every single person, we gave our honored guests the royal treatment. It doesn’t take anything special in and of ourselves to love and value individuals with special needs, it doesn’t even take a prom. It simply takes a willing heart and God’s love.
I know that our world isn’t where it should be when it comes to disability acceptance, but I saw bridges being built and barriers being broken down little by little that evening and it was truly beautiful. Seeing God’s love being poured out simply took my breath away. Thank you to all that came and displayed for me and for our honored guests this kind of love.