Bright lights, sparkling stage, fog machines, bubbles floating in the air, red carpet. It might sound like a fairy-tale reserved for royalty, but this was made a reality for children with disabilities in the Philippines this February. Through our partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation, CURE Philippines hosted the annual “Night to Shine” in Davao City, “an unforgettable prom night experience centered on God’s love for kids with special needs.” A year-long preparation culminated in a day of celebration, especially for our CUREkids who had surgery at the hospital and come back to walk the red carpet after their healing. Many of them traveled long distances to attend and celebrate with us. Thanks to our partners from the Seeds of Dignity Ministries, many of our patients were able to make their trips, choose a prom dress and even keep the dress they wore for this memorable day.
It took a lot of volunteers and staff to make this day special for our guests. Joining the Tebow CURE staff were representatives from local churches like the Davao City Alliance Gospel Church, Chinese Baptist Church, Christ Commission Fellowship, and Foursquare Gospel Church. These volunteers walked side-by-side with our patients and shared the gospel by reminding them that they were loved and cared for by our one true King, Jesus Christ.
We were excited to see Kimberly, a patient of CURE Philippines, attend the event. Four years ago, she would barely look anyone in the eye because she was ashamed of the scars on her face from severe burns as a result of rebels burning down her home. It was a special treat to have her sing a song of worship at the event. She shone as a testimony of how God trades beauty for ashes. The ashamed Kimberly, who first came to CURE, was transformed into a confident young woman full of gratitude to God. Kimberly told us, “The moment we were crowned as kings and queens, I felt God’s presence and His love for us. Though we have disabilities, God never left us. It rings true that we are not a mistake, and God has a purpose for us.”
Many of our guests had similar stories of past fear and apprehension. They showed up at the Davao Convention Center to celebrate what God had done in their lives after recovery from the long and painful procedures that were a part of their healing journey. One of our guests, Cyndi shared, “This was my first time going to prom and my favorite part is to walk on the red carpet.” Cyndi first came to CURE diagnosed with phocomelia, a congenital deformity in which the limbs are underdeveloped. She was born without her left leg and had to hop just to get places. After her surgery at CURE, she received a prosthetic leg through our partner Limb Kind Foundation. We knew that Cyndi’s treatment and recovery would be a long process, one that we do not often see when kids return to their communities after surgery. However, because Cyndi came back for “Night to Shine,” we were able to catch up with her. We learned that she has become a worship leader at her local church in Leyte and is pursuing a stronger relationship with God and that she was able to undergo physical therapy to have her prosthetic device adjusted. The joy on her face, as she confidently walked on the red carpet, was indescribable!
The night was filled with children enjoying the festivities and some even sharing their talents with us. Children from our partner organizations got into the celebrations as much as our CUREkids. The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. had guests busting their moves on the dance floor. Students from the Deaf and Mute Ministry presented an interpretative dance to the song, “You Raise Me Up,” and two young men from the School for the Blind, Inc. serenaded the crowd with the piano and flute.
Around each table were kids who may not have legs to walk, eyes to see, or the ability to hear and speak, yet they were participating and showed everyone that God’s grace and mercy are beyond our abilities. What a privilege to bring together this group of people in one room for a joyful celebration! This brings to mind Luke 14:13, where the Master invites the poor, crippled, lame, and the blind to His feast! May we who have physical eyes to see have our spiritual eyes opened to what God is doing in our midst.