A Night of Family, A Night of Fun, A Night of Hope
Please read the following blog by Jacqui Jackson, Ignite Hope’s co-founder and CEO, about the first major event Ignite Hope hosted to raise awareness for orphan care in the Atlanta community. Ignite Hope’s first annual Night of Hope saw God move in big ways and was an excellent way to kick off the capital campaign!
So the first thing that I must share about Night of Hope is just how incredible our board, volunteers, and prayer teams were. Oh my absolute word! After two years of processing through what God has given us to steward and then beginning the hard work of creating an organization from the ground up, we finally saw a true glimpse of what God’s vision is for the Modern Orphan, for families, and for Ignite Hope. And it was all because of the support from our board, prayer teams, and the families who came by!
some of our volunteers at Night of Hope
So many friends rearranged schedules, braved Atlanta traffic at rush hour, and simply prioritized being present — for us, for the foster/adoptive community, and truly for God — because they believed that God would show up. And y’all, He showed up and showed off as only He can. Frankly, it had little to do with us. We were obedient. We were prayerful. And then we kind of got out of the way, and I am so grateful that we did.
Although the ramp-up to the event was fraught with the typical last minute mile-long to-do list and a fairly steep learning curve, as we hadn’t undertaken planning a major ministry event before, we are extremely grateful to share that both families we’ve known for years and new families showed up with children of all ages in tow. Some of these sweet littles had experienced foster and adoption journeys like me. Others were belly babies being raised in families with a heart for Jesus, justice, and kids. Every one of them was precious.
It was noisy, it was silly, and it was just so fun! Jeff Jackson, our COO (or as I call him, the Hubs), somehow had the foresight to bring a drill to the skating rink “just in case” it was needed! With that drill, a plastic dollar-store shoe box, and nylon rope, he rigged up a bubble machine that drew kiddos like moths to a flame.
The best part was that because our event was not private, families who had no idea who we were or what we were about came over to play in the bubble rain and stayed to grab an advent adoption calendar, a brochure, and our business cards. One of the coolest things was that a couple of families we didn’t know that had ties to the adoption and fostering community just happened upon us when they were at the rink for another purpose! (I believe God directed them there, but that’s just me!)
one of our guests playing under the bubble machine
I saw my own tribe racing back and forth between lazer tag, the play maze, and the skating games, stopping only to grab a bite of pizza and or to sip an icy drink. It’s possible that the Hubs and I donned our own skates and raced around the rink a few times...I’m just sayin’, it was just that fun! Although at one point I also attempted to cuddle a wiggly one year old while wearing said skates. That was not a move I’d recommend, but I digress.
The huge stars of this event were the people who came out to support us and to find support. A couple of the sweet families we have been coaching through adoption journeys came by and connected with members of their prayer teams whom they had never met. It just blessed my soul to see these families we coach and love believe in our ministry, and it is so refreshing to be able to provide them the prayer, support, and community that I know I desperately needed when I was adopting my children.
Watching friends, both new and old, who believe in the mission and ministry of Ignite Hope connect with families and bless them with prizes from LifeWay, iDisciple, Sweet Tomatoes, and Bruster's Ice Cream was so great. Kids were thrilled to play our social media scavenger hunt game, and families were happy to walk away with a tangible expression of our appreciation for what they are doing on a daily basis: loving on God’s kids.
But the one thing I hadn’t expected, (and honestly, leading a prayer ministry, I really should have expected this) was to see Jesus take the room and realm.
The ambience was not conducive to your typical quiet, solemn church setting. The air was rent with pop music, screams of delight, and laughter. There was a haze from the strobe lights, neon colors, and lazer tag beams. Kids were sweaty and silly and noisy, but friends, God was there! As I skated around with my eldest, joyful in my heart and grateful for all the help that let me take 20 minutes to just play, I saw church going on in the most precious of ways.
Two of our supporters who have a strong ministry of prayer offered to take the heart of our ministry straight to the people. They walked around sharing our calling and vision, and pretty much shared it straight. They said things like, “We love Jesus. Jesus loves you, so we do too. Ignite Hope is a family ministry and a prayer ministry, so how can we pray for your family right now?” And pray they did.
I had chills as I watched time and time again as heads bowed amidst the chaos and a reverent, holy moment took place. I am so humbled to be a small part of what God is doing for His kids in such a time as this. I am so deeply grateful to friends who believe in what we’ve been called to steward and who share so freely the gifts and talents they’ve been given. I cannot wait for our next event, because I know that those who were present felt what I felt and saw what I saw: the church truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.
And if three days prior to the event I start to fall to pieces again, stomping around and threatening to move to Antarctica or some such, I pray that someone reminds me of God’s goodness and faithfulness to all of His kids...even to me. I will strive to hope in Him.