Being a photographer I get to be apart of some awesome events, people allow me to be there for intimate moments in their lives. From the birth of their first child to the day that child walks down the aisle on their wedding day. I’ve photographed people worshiping in the streets of Poland, I’ve captured countless weddings, church services, camps, bands and cherished family memories. I’ve seen so much through the lens of my camera, but nothing prepared my heart for photographing “A Night To Remember” put on by Mission Church in Ventura California. This was Mission’s second time throwing this event, and this years was more than double the size of the year before, and Mission Church is just barely 2 years old!
I was asked by a friend to help out as a roaming photographer for a “Prom Night” for special needs kids. I thought that it would be fun, and something I had never done before. But it was more than fun, it was life changing. I have never seen anything like it. Hundreds of volunteers came together to create the most beautiful event I have ever had the pleasure of capturing with my camera. This church thought of everything. They had make-up and hair stations, corsage for all the guests, food, amazing decor, DJ, photo booth, gift bags, limos… the list goes on and on. Every single thing was done with excellence. This was better than any prom you could ever attend at any high school. This was truly created to be a night to remember. Oh! And by the way, this night was completely FREE to the guests that attended the event…can you say MIND BLOWING!
I was so proud to watch teenagers from high schools all over Ventura turn out to help, they weren’t all church kids, they weren’t trained to work with special needs kids and yet they were there. They danced all night, they laughed, they talked and they made this night a Night to Remember. I’ve worked with teens my entire adult life and sometimes I only get to see the selfish or drama part of teenagers lives. I have never been so proud of a this generation of teenagers then I was this night. They put aside their cell phones, their high school drama and selfishness to make someone else have the best night of their lives. WOW!
Standing in awe of the whole set up and how much this one church did to make a night special for kids who truly needed to feel special, was amazing. God was doing something BIG. His finger prints were everywhere and it was magical. My breath was taken away the moment the first guest stepped out of the first limo, that smile, the joy, the pure happiness, as a crowd of supporters cheered them on. I could barely lift my camera to take a picture. And that moment happened over and over again as limousine after limousine pulled up with guests. I wish I had brought tissues from the tears of joy that ran down my face.
However the moment that wretched my heart in the most wonderful way happened when I showed a mother of one of the guests a photo I had just taken of her daughter. This mom hugged me so tight and told me with tears in her eyes, that her daughter didn’t get to go to her prom because no one would ask her. And when she heard about this event, she was so happy. She said when she saw how extravagant the event was and how much trouble this church had to gone to to make that night special for her daughter, she said “I knew there must be a God.” In that moment I couldn’t say anything, I just hugged her back and thanked God that I got to be a tiny part of something that showed this woman that there is a God and that He loves her and her daughter.
My God is so amazing, and He completely blew my mind that night. God alone made that event happen. He brought the right people together, He hand-picked each guest that would attend, and His glory shined so bright that night. I wish you all could have been there to experience it. It honestly changed my life, I will never forget the night that my camera lens captured the face of God in every smile of each guest that got to have A Night To Remember.
Below is a glimpse of the evening. Please watch and be inspired!