As I sat and contemplated the thought of turning 55, wondered what I was still doing as a youth pastor, and questioned my sanity as to why I would want to be involved in the lives of hundreds of teenagers, the youth at MVCC reminded me why. Just weeks after going hungry for 30 hours and raising funds to ship almost 42,000 meals to starving children worldwide, the youth at Miami Vineyard put on their 3rd Annual Adults with Special Needs Prom. Seeing our youth’s hard work, dedication and love for these sometimes marginalized members not only of our communities but of God’s Kingdom, quickly reminded me why I do what I do.
On Friday, February 28th, over 150 special needs adults were treated to the night of their lives by teenagers that could have been doing anything else on a Friday night, but instead made the entire afternoon and evening about showing God’s love in a practical way.
Our honored guests started arriving around 4:30pm, when they were greeted with some snacks and then assisted in picking out prom dresses and tuxedos that had been donated and collected during the previous 4 months. Our girls assisted the ladies by giving them manicures and doing their hair and makeup while all the time just going out of their way to make them feel like the special creations they are. The boys ensured that the guys looked dapper and even helped them with some dance steps (although not much help was needed there as you will witness in the video).
Next, they were picked up by stretch limos (also donated) and taken for a nice ride before arriving at our youth warehouse that had been transformed into the perfect prom setting complete with a DJ, beautiful table settings and of course a RED carpet for our honored guests. Upon arrival they all received an Oscar’s style reception. Our youth each served as escorts for our honored guests as they escorted them down the red carpet and into the reception area, where prom photos were taken and their hand prints traced on our “Wall of Fame.” They were all served a delicious dinner, and the rest of the evening was just amazing. When I say amazing, I meant for all of us involved as well–not just our guests of honor. I was overwhelmed with emotion on how so many of our guests that had participated the year before recognized our youth, remembered their names, and called them their friends.
This was life changing for many of our youth that volunteered for the first time; the love they showed and the unconditional love they received reminded them of how Jesus loves us.
Next year when we move into our new church home (an ex-banquet facility), we are already anticipating 300 guests, as this event has increased every year we have done it.
(If you’re having trouble making it play, make it go full-screen by clicking the square in the bottom-right hand corner.)