Special needs community celebrates Night to Shine

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When a Gulf Coast church was nominated anonymously to host Night to Shine for people with special needs, in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation, the congregation rose to the occasion and planned a memorable evening for 175 guests.

Guests were greeted with a red carpet, cheering volunteers and festive decorations for Night to Shine with Tim Tebow Foundation at Church on Bayshore.

“There is a huge need in every community for the church to embrace, serve and reach the special needs community,” said Justin Wyatt, executive pastor at Church on Bayshore in Niceville.

Seizing the opportunity to show compassion and Christ-like encouragement to the often-overlooked special needs community, Church on Bayshore gathered support from local businesses and 160 volunteers while working with the Tim Tebow Foundation to host the event.

The prom-style evening included limo rides, a red carpet, dinner, dancing, photo booths and games. Attendees, ranging in age from 14 to 70, were paired with buddies who helped them have the time of their lives.

There is a huge need in every community for the church to embrace, serve and reach the special needs community.

Justin Wyatt executive pastor, Church on Bayshore, Niceville

Parents and caregivers enjoyed a hospitality room where dinner was served as they watched a livestream of the event and made meaningful connections with others in similar roles.

Guests at Night to Shine enjoyed limo rides during the prom-style event.

The following Sunday, a family who attended the event returned for worship and shared that they had not been in church in more than a decade due to uncertainties that their child’s special needs could be met.

While Church on Bayshore demonstrated to the community that it is a resource for families with special needs

children, church leaders acknowledged that the follow-up after an event like Night to Shine caused them to pause and ask the question, “How are we equipped, prepared, resourced and trained to provide ongoing ministry to families with special needs?”

Volunteers agreed that Night to Shine provided one of the most meaningful ways they had ever been able to serve and proved to be a beautiful picture of the church displaying the compassion and care of Jesus.

“We had the opportunity to show the lavish love of God to every guest throughout the whole evening, to provide a much-needed night of fun for our guests and their families, and to share the gospel,” Wyatt said.

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