Converge missionaries host Macedonia’s first Night to Shine
Converge global worker, Macedonia
It was the day of the big event, and we were understandably nervous. We had spent months organizing Macedonia’s first Night to Shine, which is an unforgettable prom night experience for people with special needs that is centered on God’s love. We had lots of help from the Tim Tebow Foundation, Converge and local partners. Still, there are so many unknowns the first time you do something, and we had no idea what to expect. A last-minute cancelation by some of the invited guests because of concerns about our “sect” hosting the event didn’t help reassure us either.
Things generally went as planned with the setup at the venue, but as the time for the event approached, we quickly realized all the volunteers were late and the guests early. Suddenly, the quiet reception hall was transformed into a chaotic mess as guests tried to register at overcrowded tables in multiple languages. Somehow we managed to work through the confusion as volunteers filed in behind the special needs guests they were there to serve. Slowly but surely, the event was happening, but would it be a success?
As the mass of people found its way into the hall, our sense of nervousness seemed to fade away as the music began to play. Special needs guests began to walk down the red carpet with their volunteer buddies by their side as onlookers applauded. Everyone was dressed in their best clothes. The girls all had their hair and makeup done by a small army of hairdressers working in the back of the venue. Smiles and laughter began to replace apprehension and confusion. And then the most beautiful thing happened. People began to dance. A special joy came over the room that is hard to describe with mere words. The more they danced, the more that joy seemed to grow. God was blessing us.
I doubt that the people in the back of the room could hear the gospel message as it was preached, but those sitting in front were paying a lot of attention. The Deaf community was especially in tune with the message as it was translated into sign language. Most of these people had never heard a clear explanation of what Christ has done for us, and they loved the message they heard. Many Muslims hugged me after the gospel presentation, and most accepted a copy of the Bible before the evening was over.
There was also reconciliation in the room that night as well. The father of one of the special guests came and embraced one of our volunteers, a Macedonian pastor from a nearby town.
“I’m so sorry for treating you that way,” said the father to the pastor he had confronted a few weeks prior. “I didn’t know what your church was doing in my neighborhood passing out those Christmas boxes to the children, but now I can see that you really care about us. I’m sorry I mistreated you when you came to my town. Please come back anytime you like!”
The evening ended with a glow as people filed out with smiles and warm hearts. One of the volunteers told us he had come hoping to lift up other people but left feeling as if he had been uplifted. The event was over, and everything went better than we had imagined. God had blessed us and opened new doors for the gospel.