Curtis Golden and his fiancée, Linda Robinson, were on their way to St. John’s Breadline a few weeks ago when, out of the blue, someone gave them free tickets to a banquet complete with steak dinners.
The banquet, which was held Thursday, was sponsored by Destiny Church, 2423 S. MacArthur Blvd. Organizers said it was designed to let people know they’re special and that God loves them.
Golden said that he and Robinson were pretty excited when they got the tickets.
“God blesses you in many ways. That’s how I look at it,” Golden said.
Golden and Robinson were among the more than 100 people who attended the dinner, which was held at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, 701 E. Adams St. Attendees were picked up and delivered to the hotel in a stretch limousine and walked down a red carpet when they entered the banquet room.
As they entered, people would applaud.
“The reason we do it is because we want to demonstrate the extravagant love of Jesus Christ,” said Levi Vincent of Destiny Church. “We want to proclaim the extravagant sacrifice he gave on the cross. That was an extravagant gift. He gave everything he had, so we want to show the city of Springfield something extravagant.”
The people invited to the banquet represented a variety of walks of life. Some were contacted through agencies such as Helping Hands or Contact Ministries, while others were found by church members after they prayed.
“We ask God to give us clues,” Vincent said.
During the prayer sessions, Vincent said church members might receive a message of a location or a description of what someone is wearing. The church members then go to the location, look for the people, introduce themselves and tell them how God led them to the person.
“One time, I went into a Dollar General and I had Harley-Davidson as a clue. The only person in the store was wearing a Harley-Davidson jacket,” Vincent said.
The main message Vincent and the other church members wanted the guests to take away was that they are special.
“If God took all that time to find them, out of all the people in Springfield, they must be somebody special,” Vincent said. “We want to show them how special they are to God. Of course we’re all special to God, we’re all treasures to God, but we want the people that God leads us to to be honored.”
Golden and Robinson came to Springfield about a year ago but returned to Chicago around May. They came back to Springfield about a month ago, and initially, they stayed in separate shelters.
A few days ago, they were able to move into a motel.
Golden said that when the woman from Destiny Church initially approached them with the dinner tickets, she was looking for someone else. They told her they didn’t know the man she was looking for, and that’s when the woman gave them the tickets.
Vincent smiled when he heard Golden’s story.
“It just shows that no matter who you are, God’s love can find you. He’s going to surprise you with how much love he has for you,” Vincent said.
The idea for the banquet came from New Testament scripture and is meant to be a living parable.
“In Luke Chapter 14, Jesus says when you throw a banquet or a luncheon, don’t invite your friends, your relatives or your rich neighbors because they might be able to pay you back. Go ahead and invite the blind, the lame and the poor,” Vincent said.
–Contact John Reynolds: firstname.lastname@example.org, 788-1524, twitter.com/JohnReynoldsSJR.