I spent a brief moment there, allowing myself to soak it all in. The song, “Shout!”, by the Isley Brothers was playing loudly. It was a crowd favorite, and it showed!
The event was Embrace Life Ministries’ fourth annual You’re a Star prom. An event purposely designed for individuals 14+ with differing abilities. It’s an incredibly fun day that our awesome team and the attendees look forward to each year.
From my post up high, I looked down to see volunteer’s children as young as 4 and adults well into their 70s, and every age in between, throw their hands up and “Shout!”. I saw volunteers “kicking their heels up” as they laughed with participants. The playfulness of everyone as they got “a little bit softer now” and “a little bit louder now” brought such a smile to my face. The joy was absolutely contagious.
As I scanned the room I also saw volunteers playing, chatting, and serving food.
I saw full-time caretakers relaxing with a cup of coffee and getting to know one another. I saw participants forming new friendships, playing jokes and teasing volunteers.
In that moment I saw true togetherness. Something I’m afraid we don’t always get the privilege of experiencing to its fullest.
After snapping a few photos I walked down the stairs happily. The logistics of planning the event were over, and all that was left to do was enjoy it. It was then that God whispered a profound and important truth into my heart:
Is there anything more true than this statement? Whether our ministry is serving single moms and their children, parents who have lost a child, a post-abortive couple, a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, or a new mom facing her child’s diagnosis, this phrase rings true. You and I were made for community. We were designed to love and be loved. We were created to bear each other’s burdens and celebrate each other’s joys! And our community shouldn’t just be filled with people who look, think, and act like us. God has so much more in store for us if we’re willing to take the extra steps to fully embrace every single one of our neighbors.You and I were made for community...And our community shouldn’t just be filled with people who look, think, and act like us. -Alicia Terhune Click To Tweet
Now I understand why the prom has always felt like a little taste of heaven.
It’s not because we are finding ourselves in service–it’s because we are finding each other in true community. The divide between the proverbial “us” and “them” becomes nearly non-existent and we’re all just celebrating life together. There is no more diagnosis, no more label, no more fear or discomfort. Of course it’s there, but we push past all of that to get to the heart of inclusion: we are not volunteer and participant, we are just us. And that’s our little piece of heaven.
If you want to be better together, we encourage you to find out how you can get involved in Friendship Ministry – a weekly worship opportunity for individuals with disabilities at North Way Christian Community.