Grand Rapids First
Pastor Brenda shares how Grand Rapids First with the Tim Tebow Foundation uses prom night to make a positive difference.
Imagine exiting a limo, stepping onto red carpet amid paparazzi and cheering crowds. Moments later, you are ushered by a buddy to enjoy an evening of good food, music, and dancing. Well, this is what Night to Shine guests experience. Night to Shine is a special prom night designed by the Tim Tebow Foundation to celebrate people with special needs age 14 and older. Centered on God’s love, it gives both honored guests and their caregivers an unforgettable experience.
Grand Rapids First is one of many dedicated churches who participate each year by hosting Night to Shine for 250 special guests and 300 caregivers. The highlight of the evening, shares Brenda Rijfkogel, co-pastor of Grand Rapids First Church, is when each guest is crowned king and queen of the prom. Caregivers also receive royal treatment. Last year, they were treated to a scrumptious meal followed by improvisational comedy, all the while being accompanied by staff.
Pastor Brenda tells heart-warming stories illustrating why Night to Shine is so treasured. They range from a volunteer (who was in a wheelchair himself) determined to “buddy” with one of the special guests, to a guest sitting straight in her pew while wearing her crown in church service.
She adds that the most rewarding aspect of Night to Shine is the two-sided blessing she receives: the overwhelming generosity of volunteers and the appreciative guests. She recounts the powerful moment that guests experience once they step onto on red carpet and hear crowds cheer. Many smile, even cry as they are crowned. And then there are those personal testimonies from attendees saying how it was a night they would never forget – some even admitting to sleeping in their crowns.
Pastor Brenda especially thanks the 700+ volunteers who signed up for Night to Shine, and those teenaged buddies displaying faith in action by stepping out, meeting a need, and celebrating each guest with a, “heart of service and love and compassion.”
She closes by offering this nugget, "As a person of faith in Christ all we need to do is look around us for needs. Sometimes we need to think out of the box and step away from the “normal” we’ve always been comfortable with … Faith is when you step out and do something a little different to help people that may be a little different."
Here’s to making a positive difference in the life of others.
Any interests in Grand Rapids First and Night to Shine can be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured above are guests who attended a Night to Shine event hosted by Grand Rapids First church.