An Evening to Remember - Coming Home 2019
Let me set the scene for you. The room is immaculately decorated. There are pops of color everywhere—tons of orange, of course. And wherever you look, you see pictures of smiling faces of children. Now, imagine standing behind a podium and looking across a sea of faces… faces that are loving, generous, and want nothing more than to see good done in the world. That was my view as we kicked off the Coming Home 2019 celebration. It was my first banquet as a member of the Homes of Love staff.
For Coming Home 2019, we set the stage in a unique way. Visitors to the banquet walked through a series of interactive displays that echoed the origins of some of our children. From a houseboat surrounded by trash in Cambodia, to a grungy cardboard box in Vietnam, to a small uncared-for crib in Zimbabwe. Those coming into the banquet were able to feel just a little bit of what it was like for some of our children to be born in poverty. And the three stories of those children in Cambodia, Zimbabwe, and Vietnam, while true, were just examples of childhoods filled with trauma, longing, and neglect. After those interactive displays, visitors to the banquet were shown what one of our Homes of Love looks like. A home filled with light and belonging and love. A home where education, healthcare, and family are available. A forever home.
After passing photos of our Homes of Love families, our guests were treated to a beautiful setting and delicious dinner at The Press Room in Knoxville. Then, it was my moment behind the podium. Amy Denning, one of our Board members, and I introduced the night. Then, we all shared an incredible meal together. After dinner, we watched as a video of the life of one of our Homes of Love girls from Vietnam was shown. But Kieu’s story is not one of heartbreak. While her early life was difficult, Kieu’s story is really one of celebration. It’s a story of coming home. She found a forever home with her Homes of Love family. Once the video was completed, Debbie Chesney, the Executive Director of Homes of Love, came up and inspired us with stories of more of our children coming home. She showed us the reality of the situations that our kids come from, and then was honest about what is required to help give more children homes.
Thinking back and looking over that sea of faces, I can see the spark of generosity that God placed in them. These are people that came to our Homes of Love banquet eager to give, not out of duty or shame, but out of the overflow of their hearts. These are people who wanted to see God change the world—people who wanted to see children find homes. When the banquet was finished, and all of the dust cleared, and all of the math was done, the banquet raised more money than ever before to help find homes for children. We ended the evening with 61 new donors, and 52 children were sponsored. The evening was a huge success.
I’m grateful for my first experience at a Homes of Love banquet… not because we raised a lot of money, but because I was able to see, first hand, the generosity and power of the people of God.