Now that we are three weeks post fundraising dinner, I’ve had a lot of time to process and appreciate all the wonderful things that happened. It indeed was a powerful room that night!
We had 250 guests, of which, 60% were new to Ncompass. I love seeing how you all want to encourage your friends to take part in this movement with you.
More than that, we were able to cover all the costs associated with the dinner well in advance, so it was free for all our guests to attend. The meal, the drinks, the decorations all combined for such a fun evening. I was blessed to meet so many of you for the first time, and was honored to hear your hearts for youth development.
More than that, we had the largest team of dinner volunteers to date, who all poured their heart into this event, and into our mission. The night also brought in many more people who want to stay engaged through our prayer team and volunteer team.
And even more than that, collectively, we were able to raise nearly $50,000 which will continue to sustain our programs, and together we will be able to serve, develop and empower more youth around the globe.
Thank you to each and every one of you who came that night and for those who supported this effort.
But I also want to thank the people who didn’t come....
As life would have it, with a week to spare, a few paid seats became available.
These seats are paid for, the meal is reserved, it should not be wasted.
With not enough time to fill them, I felt the Lord pulling on my heart, and reminding me of a parable in Matthew 22 of the man that throws a banquet and no one shows up – so he sends his servants “… into the streets [to] gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:10.
This opportunity would not go to waste.
The morning of the dinner, I parked on Morrison Street to meet our setup team and decorate. Just down the hill from my car were two red tents. As the rain was starting to mist, my heart broke for the people who called that tent home.
I prayed for them as I went back and forth to my car to grab the beautiful decorations.
These people were not less than nothing.
That evening, when the bustle of the crowd was picking up, I pulled Daniel Meeker aside. Daniel had been with us to Haiti when he was in high school, and I knew him to be a kind, confident, bold young man, whose heart loved all people. I knew he’d be up for this challenge. I told him what I felt like the Lord was asking us to do – fill the empty seats – and asked if he’d be willing to be the “servant who went out to the streets and gathered all the people he could find.” Ncompass was originally founded as a homeless ministry, and this felt only right for us to do.
As expected, Daniel jumped at the chance!
Later that evening, I glanced up from my table to see two women in sweatshirts at Daniel’s table. Not fitting in with the standard attire the rest of us had on, I knew these were our special guests. After the dinner was over, Daniel invited me over to meet Kai and Jessica.
They shared how Daniel came to their tent and invited them to come, but they were hesitant to share the evening with people who were not like them, and turned down his offer. However, when Daniel left, Kai turned to Jessica and said, “We only have a bag of chips to split tonight for dinner, if that kid comes back, put your shoes on. We’re going.”
And Daniel did come back.
They were nervous to attend our gathering, but did it out of need.
Kai was eager to share with me what the IGNITE experience meant to her. She knew this was a fundraising dinner, and that she would not be able to “offer” anything in exchange for her meal. But having the opportunity to share in IGNITE with her table allowed her to give something of great significance. She shared how she was empowered and impacted by a stranger a few years prior. When crossing the street, this stranger in a wheelchair grabbed her hand and said “I see you. You have value.” Kai stated that it was this simple, yet profound act, that has pushed her to SEE her own value and SEE that in others.
As transplants here from Arizona, Kai and Jessica were trying to get back home. But their home currently was a red tent, on the side of Morrison Street. (isn’t it ironic… don’t you think) I introduced them to my husband, Randy, who has connections to people with connections of this nature. As providence would have it, the Monday after the dinner, Randy received a text from Kai and Jessica that because of the people he connected them to, they were on a bus headed home to Arizona. That night was so much more than a meal for them.
Understandably so, Kai and Jessica were nervous to attend our gathering. When you live on the streets, it can be awkward to spend the evening with people who have the ability and capacity to GIVE AWAY money freely -- even if it is to charity. They felt less than.
We could have remained to them a room full of stuffy people, with fancy clothes, who were giving to a cause that doesn’t affect them personally.
But instead, we were a room of full of kind people, who treated them as humans, with the same desire and need to be loved, and SAW them as people. They were MORE THAN, and we were MORE THAN!
THANK YOU for making this happen.
More than 60% new people
More than incredible volunteers
More than $50,000
More than the meal and the drinks
PEOPLE were seen, and LOVED
This is HEAVEN on earth!
While it is always a bummer to have guests not attend, but I’m see the opportunity here. It just might be in their absence that someone else was allowed to SHOW UP!
AUTHOR: KATIE MATHENY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NCOMPASS
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