By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Michael Trull said there wasn’t a dry eye in the congregation the Sunday they showed a highlight video from their recent Night to Shine event.
“It’s hard to describe if you’ve never been to one,” said Trull, pastor of Thorington Road Baptist Church, Montgomery. “But the main thing is — we were expecting it to be a blessing to the guests who came and they were a blessing to us instead.”
The guests — all age 14 and up with some kind of special need — enjoyed a prom night experience centered on God’s love for every person. Volunteers helped them with hair and makeup, then drove them in a limousine to the event venue where a crowd lined the red carpet waiting for them to arrive.
At Night to Shine, guests are paired with a buddy and enjoy a night of dancing, karaoke singing and celebrating. At the end of the night, every guest is crowned prom king or queen.
“It was just an amazing experience,” Trull said. “So many folks said it was the best night of their life, and we’ve gotten so many cards from parents who said, ‘You made my kid feel like a regular kid for an evening.’”
It was Thorington Road Baptist’s first time to participate in the event, which is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. This year’s Night to Shine was hosted Feb. 8 by 655 churches across all 50 states and 24 countries, including seven Alabama Baptist churches and Baptist partners in Lebanon.
Angela Washington, who coordinates Night to Shine at Bethel Baptist Church, Dora, in Sulphur Springs Baptist Association, said the event is her favorite night of the year.
‘Moment of joy’
“It’s such a great way to show the guests love and let them know their worth to God,” she said, noting that this was Bethel’s third year to host Night to Shine. “Regardless of what our abilities are, we each matter to God. That’s what I love about the crowning — it’s that moment of joy to say, ‘You matter to God.’”
The caregivers also get to relax that night in a respite room where they’re served a meal and can enjoy conversations with each other while watching the event from a big screen.
“It gives them a break and lets them know the church supports them, that it’s a place of refuge and restoration,” Washington said. “Several parents also said, ‘I can’t believe all this is being done for our child.’ You can see the joy and excitement in everyone who’s involved.”
And a bonus to the night is that the youth and adults who volunteer “come away seeing how they can minister in ways they might not have thought of before,” she said.
Other Alabama Baptist churches that participated were:
- Agape Baptist Church, Scottsboro
- Central Baptist Church, Decatur
- CrossPoint Church, Trussville
- Dayspring Baptist Church, Mobile
- Valley View Baptist Church, Tuscaloosa.
And in Lebanon, Night to Shine was part of local Baptists’ efforts to change the culture around the care of people with special needs.
The event “was yet another step towards raising awareness, preserving the dignity of special needs people in our country and giving them back the joy that they offer so innocently and graciously to others,” said Nabil Costa, head of the Lebanese Society for Educational & Social Development (LSESD), which includes a Baptist seminary and school. “We are grateful to Tim Tebow’s vision and heart that extended across oceans to bring joy to our own people.”
At Night to Shine, LSESD welcomed 81 guests — just one more way to show local churches and the nation that Beirut Baptist School cares about the dignity of every person, Costa said.
It’s part of LSESD’s initiative to address “issues of poverty and vulnerability and the right to education for all as a practical reflection of God’s love for the vulnerable and the marginalized, that they may attain their full God-given potential,” Costa said.
For more information about Night to Shine visit timtebowfoundation.org.
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