Christian Chronicle

For kings and queens with special needs, a Night to Shine

Arkansas church rolls out the red carpet at prom-like event.

Second Place, Best Reporter portfolio, Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

FORT SMITH, Ark. — Crowns on their heads, the kings and queens flash huge smiles as they emerge from a sleek black limousine.

They wear fancy suits and formal dresses and seem to glide up the red carpet as the waiting crowd cheers.

The 150-plus royal guests pass under a lighted archway with the message “Night To Shine” flanked by the words “Hope” and “Dream.” Many pump fists in the air. Others simply glow.

The friendly paparazzi hold cameras and smartphones with one hand and wipe tears with the other — unable to contain a flood of emotions.

On this recent Friday night, more than 350 volunteers came together at the West-Ark Church of Christ to throw a giant party for God’s children with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs.

“This is a glimpse of the kingdom, that’s what it is,” said Chris Benjamin, preaching minister for the 700-member church. “You see the upside-down kingdom in action because those often overlooked are given special honor.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the March 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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