As I gazed out into the sunshine on the morning of April 8, 2016, I saw the balloons swaying gently in the breeze. A sign with a giant arrow pointed the way to the registration table, where I and other volunteers sat, ready to welcome attendees to Dress for FREEdom.
Everything was set. The tables were perfectly decorated with centerpieces of blue, purple and black. The kitchen was humming with the noise of preparations and the clinking of utensils. Sewing machines sat ready, needles and colored thread set to tailor fit dresses to attendees. And hundreds of colorful gowns hung – chiffon billowing, rhinestones sparkling, and silk glistening in the light. Everything was ready.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1) This verse suddenly came to mind as I walked around, observing the work of so many at Dress for FREEdom. Over 90 volunteers from various churches and faith-based organizations worked tirelessly to plan, promote and produce the event – all in an effort to show God’s love to attendees.
This annual event provides at-risk teenagers with an opportunity to receive a makeover, choose a formal dress and shoes, enjoy a catered lunch, complete crafts, have a photo shoot, and hear a speaker raise awareness about sex trafficking. The goal of the event is to provide attendees with an opportunity to connect with caring adults, hear about the on-going prevention programs at the Design Studio, and experience God’s love through the hands of numerous volunteers.
Dress for FREEdom is always a beautiful event. And this year its beauty seemed especially clear because of the unity of God’s church. Men from New Hope Community Church volunteered both before the event and after to set up the mobile dressing rooms, tables, and chairs. Hands of Favor showed up with hair stylists, cutting shears, bobby pins, and creative ideas for prom up-dos. Gethsemane Lutheran Church donated their facilities, both on the days leading up to the event and on day of the event. Their staff even checked in to make sure volunteers had everything they needed, including figuring out how to replace light bulbs at the last minute and how to secure extra space for a make-up area.
Volunteer associates from Jamberry and Mary Kay donated time and supplies so attendees could try out new looks and new styles. Teenagers from Sunset High School and Cedar Mill Bible Church spent hours procuring and putting together donations so each attendee could leave with a gift bag of make-up, a teen New Testament, candy, and a personal handwritten note of encouragement. And Pat Meyer of The Mobile Scoop Shop provided delicious ice cream and sorbet for dessert. Not to mention the 90 volunteers from different churches and denominations who spent all day Saturday loving, serving, and laughing with the attendees.
As I reflect on the event, I can’t help but marvel at what amazing things God can accomplish through us when we join together across denominations and agencies. Each of us is equipped with God-given talents and unique abilities that He has specifically given us so we can point others towards Him. For some, this is the creative flair of hairstyling; for others, the attention to detail and nimble hands that enable them to alter a formal gown on the spot. Still others have been given businesses that we can use to bless and provide for others, or skills such as cooking or photography.
When we use these God-given abilities for His kingdom, something beautiful happens – we transcend denominations and theological differences to become His hands and feet, demonstrating Christ’s unconditional love and blessing those who are on the fringes. We represent the body of Christ, “joinedand held together … grow(ing) and build(ing) itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16). Together, we can do marvelous things.
As Dress for FREEdom came to a close, the attendees left with big smiles, new dresses, and gift bags. Weary hands packed up supplies, took down decorations, and washed numerous dishes. The behind-the-scenes crew showed up and began to move tables, take down the mobile dressing rooms, and load supplies into trucks.
And after the rooms were cleaned out, after silence had fallen upon the area that had been buzzing with activity hours before, a peaceful stillness fell upon the room. You could almost hear God saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servants. Well done.”
Thanks to the Abolition Now writing team for originally posting this story on their site, and for allowing us to share it! To read more Abolition Now stories, click here.