Pray. Move Your Feet. Now…Dance!
By: Sherri Gragg
When La’Meka Spells-Johnson of McKinney Memorial UMC, La Marque returned home from a family vacation last fall, she found that her home had been spared the incredible destruction of Hurricane Harvey. Her family, friends, and neighbors however, had not been so fortunate.
As the waters receded to reveal the scope of her loved ones’ losses, Spells-Johnson began to struggle with feelings of guilt. “Why me?” she asked her pastor. She just couldn’t understand why her family had escaped unscathed when it seemed everyone else in her world had lost so much. The Rev. Carlos Randle Phillips, pastor of McKinney Memorial UMC, challenged Spells-Johnson to cast away her false guilt so that she might embrace a call to service. “You didn’t flood,” he said, “because God has something for you to do.”
Praying and Serving
And so, Spells-Johnson began to ask God for marching orders, but in the spirit of the African proverb, “When your pray, move your feet,” she also began ministering to the victims of Harvey wherever she could. One day, as she was serving at another local church, it occurred to her that it wouldn’t be very long until prom season. In a community in which 95 percent of the homes had flooded, Spells-Johnson had no doubt that all of the expensive trappings of prom would surely be far beyond the reach of her neighbors and friends. She knew then what God wanted her to do. He wanted her to love Dickinson teens by helping them find a way to celebrate prom.
Mustard Seeds and Prom Dresses
Scripture teaches us to never underestimate the power of “the small things” when God is in the midst of them. In God’s hands, small things yield the impossible- a boy’s lunch feeds the masses. A mustard seed falls into the earth, and in time, birds rest in the branches of the tremendous tree it becomes. “Who dares despise the day of small things?” A God of miracles demands. (Zechariah 4:10)
Spells-Johnson did, what seemed at the time, a small thing. She sat down at her computer and typed out a Facebook post asking her friends to consider donating gently-used prom gowns to girls in need of a little bit of joy. Then, much like the mustard seed planted in faith, God did the impossible.
“Originally, I set the donation time at one month,” Spells-Johnson said, “but as the dresses poured in, I kept extending it.” As the holiday season approached, dresses, shoes and jewelry began filling Spells-Johnson’s home alongside Christmas decorations and presents. Local barbers and beauticians donated their services too. When it became clear that the event had grown far beyond the capacity of her home, Spells-Johnson arranged to host “All Things Prom” at her church. Fellow church members volunteered to help.
Joy and Gratitude
When the doors of McKinney Memorial UMC opened for “All Things Prom,” more than 60 excited girls arrived to choose their dresses for a rite of passage that, for a moment, had seemed to have been swept out of reach by disaster and loss. “They were so grateful,” Spells-Johnson said. “Their families kept telling us what a blessing it was to be able to allow their daughters to go to prom.”
Ultimately, “All Things Prom” collected more 160 dresses, as well as scores of shoes, jewelry, and gift cards. After the initial event, Spells-Johnson took a remaining 100 dresses to local schools for distribution to girls in need.
“I now know why God spared my home,” Spells-Johnson said. “It was so I could do something to help.”