- Baptist Beacon
A Night to Shine from a Pastor’s Eyes
FLUSHING, MI – “My eyes welled up with tears as I watched almost 100 honored guests with special needs show up at the Night to Shine Prom” said Ed Emmerling, Pastor of Westside Church in Flushing. Emmerling says Westside partners along with the Tim Tebow Foundation and many others put on a night that their guests will never forget. The guests danced the night away at a prom designed for them which culminates in each of them being crowned Kings and Queens of the prom. For the church, the members, and their friends, it is a night to pour the love of Jesus into the lives of guests and their families. There were more than 200 guests and family members attending, and they all were served by 200 volunteers.
From the moment they arrived, they were treated like royalty. The red carpet with the “paparazzi welcome” is a huge hit as people all around cheered and clapped for them as they arrived. They were given a “buddy” for the night who made sure they experienced all the fun that made up the evening. They went to the “primp and pamper” room where they touched up their makeup, shined their shoes, and topped it all off with a corsage or boutonnière paired perfectly with their dress or outfit. The rest of their dream night details they pick for themselves through the activities available for them. They explored the dance floor, karaoke room, dinner buffet, photo booth and limo rides too. Guests who were wheelchair-bound did not miss out. They were lifted in and out of the limo. Regardless of environmental sensitivities or special diet needs, they were all met with a smile. Emmerling says, “The answer for the night is yes, yes, yes!”
One guest, Kendall, said it like this, “This is AWESOME!!!”
Karen who attended said, “What an absolute, glorious night I had.” The people who came together with open arms for our special needs community was exhilarating!” She thanked Tim Tebow and all the Churches around the world for touching her heart in a way that she said would last forever.
One volunteer named Pam was a buddy to a lady named Jamie. She was able to attend with her boyfriend, Don. “They informed me in our Limo ride that they were never able to attend prom when they were in school, but tonight that dream came true." Pam says, “This was hands down the most heartwarming event I have ever attended. To witness so much compassion and love in one building was the most refreshing thing to witness.” At the end of the night every guest is crowned King or Queen of the Prom by their buddy.
Pastor Emmerling says the best part of the night is the “Crowning Moment.” To see each buddy, place the crown or tiara on their honored guest and proclaim them King and Queen of the prom is something that I can only describe as heavenly. He adds that it’s a great chance to share with the guests and their parents how much God loves them and desires to make them a part of His forever family is such a privilege and is one of those moments as a pastor that you cherish forever.
He says, “Once again, my eyes are filled with tears as I reminisce this night and multitude of people God used to bless our guests and families. I am filled with gratitude to get to be a small part of such an incredible night of sharing the love of God and the hope that can be found in Him. Through my tears I feel the sparkle I saw in the eyes of our guests shining through my eyes as I gaze upon our God and His wonderful works. To Him be glory forever in His church.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ed Emmerling and his wife Reneé together have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Ed pastors Westside Church in Flushing, Michigan.