Angel's StoryFebruary 21st, 2020
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Year after year, we sit in awe of the number of powerful stories gathered from Night to Shine proms around the globe. Coming from parents and caregivers, volunteers, pastors and event coordinators, and of course the honored guests themselves, there are more encouraging and inspiring moments than we could ever begin to tell you. But sometimes we come across one simply too beautiful to not to pass on. A story only an all-powerful God could have orchestrated. This is one of those…
In partnership with Night to Shine host church, Cornerstone Church, faith-based Okoa Refuge in Masaka, Uganda became a part of Night to Shine for the very first time this year. Okoa is devoted to rescuing orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa, and recently began the Philippi project, an initiative designed to rescue local Ugandan women from the human trafficking industry. These women are provided with a safe and loving home where they receive Biblical counseling and education on their way to freedom.
For all three of the women currently enrolled in the Philippi program, Night to Shine was a special evening, giving each of them the opportunity to both serve and celebrate. But for one of the women in particular, to say the night was “special” is an understatement. For Angel, a participant in the Philippi program for the past 18 months, the night was truly transformative.
“Victims of human trafficking in Uganda are extremely marginalized and stigmatized,” one of the Okoa staff shared with us. “They tell us it feels like they walk around town with the words ‘Sex Worker’ tattooed on their foreheads because of the way people treat them. Angel personally understands what it feels like to be not only looked down upon, but to be completely cast out of society. She doesn’t have a physical disability, but she knows the feeling of being ostracized and forgotten.”
“But we have never seen her come so alive as she did at Night to Shine. She loved our honored Kings and Queens as if they were her own family. It was as if all the pain she felt from years of living on the streets, abused and alone, was being healed by showing love to people who are also often mistreated by society, though for different reasons. It was a truly an incredible thing to witness. Night to Shine not only changed the lives of those in our community with special needs, but it changed the lives of our volunteers as well. It changed us all.”
This is what Night to Shine is all about. It may have started with a simple idea to host a prom celebrating those with special needs, but God’s ways are so much higher than ours, and He has known all along that this one night would grow to be something greater than we ever could have dreamed. It would grow to be a true movement, literally changing the world by changing the lives of not only the honored guests, but of every person involved.
This is what the Tim Tebow Foundation is all about – to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. Angel needed a brighter day. She needed a reminder that Faith, Hope and Love still exist in this world, and are available to her, even in the middle of her own rescue from a darkness most of us will never know.
Most importantly, this is what God is all about – a love that transforms lives. A love that is not only the central point of Night to Shine, but of our entire ministry. We could have never anticipated that Night to Shine would so powerfully impact a woman on the other side of the world, a woman not with a disability, but who has been subjected to the same disregard those with special needs often experience. But God knew exactly what Angel needed on that night. He knew that she needed the kind of healing that can only be found in His great and perfect love.
Perhaps what’s even more incredible to think about is that we know there are so many stories like Angel’s out there – stories we may never hear. Stories of people who thought they were gathering together for just a simple prom and somewhere along the way, personally encountered the living God, Himself – a God Who created them, Who loves them infinitely, and – as Angel’s story shows us - Who truly works ALL things together for good.