On Friday night, Senior Minister, Darrell Portland and his entire flock at the New Hope Christian Church were blessed by acting as hosts for A Night To Shine 2019, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. New Hope Christian Church, in Crawfordsville, served as one of nearly 600 churches around the world to host Night To Shine 2019. Night To Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14-and-older, hosted by local churches in all 50 states and across the globe; all on one night.
“I am blown away by how we are seeing God use the Church to step into this space as an advocate for people with special needs. It’s not about my foundation or the churches themselves, but about communities coming together to love and celebrate people with differences. Every town, every village, every state, every country needs a Night to Shine for their special needs community – a chance to be a part of something significant and life-changing . . . . and to be blessed in the process,” said Tim Tebow, founder of the Tim Tebow Foundation, in a video message.
New Hope Christian Church welcomed 92 special guests to an unforgettable evening for both guests and volunteers beginning with a walk down the red carpet.
And walk they did, complete with applause, warm welcomes from a friendly crowd and paparazzi. Some guests were hesitant at first but the change came, almost, immediately. Suddenly heads were held high, they stood taller, grinning from ear-to-ear and walked with a new-found confidence, shaking hands and exchanging greetings. Each guest was paired with a New Hope volunteer, whose only mission was to make each guest feel at home and guide them to whatever they chose to do for the entire evening.
Corsages and boutonnieres were offered and then it was on to a royal prom treatment. Excitement grew as each guest visited hair and makeup stations complete with nail polishing for the ladies and shoe shines for the guys. Limousine rides and prom favors were abundant along with a fully catered dinner, complete with a chocolate fountain, kept anticipation on its edge as guests were ushered into the prom decorated gymnasium for DJ hosted dancing. And dance they did. And danced. And danced. To “You’re The One That I want” from Grease, “Saturday Night Fever,” Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and the most popular of the evening, “The Chicken Dance.” Guests knew them all; they danced and sang them all.
Guests danced, and bonded, with their New Hope partners. They danced with friends they knew and danced with newly made friends. At some point, the room was no longer filled with special needs people but filled with the exuberance of guests who had shed their physical limitations for the joy of just being themselves; even for only a few hours.
After a brief prayer and special video message from Tim Tebow it was time to choose a Prom King and Queen. How can you choose a Prom King and Prom Queen when every guest deserves the throne? It was not a problem but an honor to crown each guest with their very own crown or tiara.
There were no strangers as the evening closed but a new family of those from New Hope who volunteered to make each of their guests special without the needs and for each of the special guests whose inner light continues to shine brightly.
The last song? What else could it be but the theme from “Dirty Dancing,” – “I Had The Time Of My Life . . .”