Night to Shine
When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. —Luke 14:12–14
On a recent Friday night, Janet Bjork read these words from Luke to a roomful of volunteers, all dressed in suits and formal dresses for an evening at “the prom.” This was an extraordinary prom, one designed specifically for individuals with special needs. North Shore Community Baptist Church (Beverly, MA), in partnership with Young Life, was one of more than 200 churches around the world to host “Night to Shine,” a prom experience for individuals ages 16 and over with special needs. Churches in 48 states and 8 countries, with over 70,000 volunteers, hosted this event on the same night to honor more than 30,000 guests and demonstrate Christ’s love to those often neglected and forgotten.
This event sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation brought together hundreds of people on the North Shore for an unforgettable experience. Over 150 volunteers, including 40 Gordon College students and six staff members, welcomed 96 guests and 94 family members/caregivers to this prom, centered on the love and light of Christ. Guests were greeted by paparazzi on the red carpet and then enjoyed a delicious banquet with family members, caregivers and volunteer “buddies.” After dinner, guests and their buddies spent the rest of the night dancing, singing karaoke, visiting the beauty salon or shoe shining station, and laughing with other guests, who soon became friends. At the end of the night, buddies crowned their prom dates as “prom king” or “prom queen,” which was a highlight for all.
This event allowed Gordon students to demonstrate Christ’s love to a vulnerable population that is often overlooked in our society. As Ella McQuann ’18, pointed out, “My heart has always broken for those with mental disabilities because they are so easily tossed aside. People don’t know how to interact with them or relate, so they turn away and ignore them. Night to Shine was a place where everyone could celebrate with each other. I’ve always imagined heaven as a place where God’s people could come together as one without regard to class, abilities, or any other division. I had a glimpse of God’s kingdom on the dance floor of Night to Shine.” Sinead Miller ’19 added that “the key to this event was not that a group of people went in to help the hopeless, but that we all enjoyed this event together as children of God; not one person was (or is) any better than another.” Volunteers met Jesus in the many guests and glimpsed a larger vision of God’s kingdom.
Larissa Lemes ’19, reflected on the role of service in a Christian’s life. She shared, “I think that part of being a Christian is to follow Jesus’ steps. Jesus came to serve and not to be served, so we as Christians, imitators of Christ, should serve others in His name.” The 40 Gordon students who served on the night of the event, plus the student athletes who helped with cleanup the following day, share a commitment to Christ, His people, and our North Shore community. This unique event provided an opportunity to connect and minister to brothers and sisters all over the North Shore. We are hopeful that the many guests, caretakers, and family members experienced the love and light of Christ through this celebratory night.
By Hannah Schundler ’11, Coordinator of Local Outreach
Photos courtesy of North Shore Community Baptist Church