Many ministries that exist in our churches today focus on the basic needs of others—shelter, food, clothing, education, water. Many cities have food banks and homeless shelters. There are even places where homeless or needy individuals can receive clothes for job interviews or general need. But it’s often not just clothes and food that are in short supply.
Three young women who spend the bulk of their time attending classes at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, or working full time have seen a greater need in their community—a need they can fulfill with their own interests and talents, a little love, and a little time. Jesse Evert, a Disney-enthusiast, dramatic actress and playwright from Casper, Wyoming, joined together with friends Kaitlynn Toay and Taylor Starks to launch Lincoln’s Princess Ministries.
Toay, a Biology major from Edgeley, North Dakota, and Starks, a talented photographer and Union College graduate from Highland, Minnesota, along with Evert, dedicate time regularly to donning elegant evening gowns and exploring Lincoln’s finest parks and playgrounds. The ladies meet and greet strangers on their adventures, handing out balloons or flowers and taking photographs with children and families. For these three friends, handing out smiles is as important as distributing food or door-to-door tracts. It started as simply sharing joy, but by sharing love with others, they are sharing Jesus’ love in the process. Their kindness leads to questions about their friendship and the college they attend. The biggest question asked by parents is why they want to share smiles with strangers.
A Galant Quest
In ministry we can often fall into a routine and forget the reason we continue. In adult ministry we follow Jesus’ instruction in Matthew to go and make disciples. It can take up our time and emotions if we leave out the joy. Can we fulfill The Great Commission—making disciples of children? Taylor Starks says it best, “Jesus didn’t always have to preach to the kids from a Bible. He took them in His lap when He stopped in a town and laughed with the children around Him.” Jesus connected with children and by His example we can minister to them by making connections with them. Evert, Toay, and Starks enjoy connecting with children as princesses, recognizable and trustworthy. The children feel as though they are immediately friends with the girls, and parents are always grateful for the time and effort.
They don’t just make an impression on girls either. Some of their biggest fans are young boys, so they’d love to add some men to their “cast.” Their quest may operate on a small budget, but all the girls would like to see more of their peers participating. In the future they will be graduating from Union College, going their separate ways, and would like Lincoln’s Princess Ministries to keep spreading joy throughout Lincoln. In the time they have, they have thrown themselves into their roles, and enjoy every single outing.
All Throughout the Kingdom
While none of their adventures have taken them out of the city of Lincoln, the Lincoln Princesses travel throughout the city to parks, lakes, malls, and even hospitals. Occasionally you might find Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White spending a Sabbath afternoon at Holmes Lake or run into Princess Anna at a local ice cream shop. One of their favorite outings was to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital where they visited with many children dealing with aggressive illnesses and families struggling with mounting emotional stress. Despite painful circumstances and a sometimes cold environment, the rooms were filled with smiles and laughter that day. At these events the princesses take extra care to spend time with each individual child, unaware of what horrors they have endured, but still able to express joy and hope.
Jesse Evert, whose dream job had been to work for Disney as a character performer, dove into this ministry after turning down an opportunity to work for Disney two years ago because they refused to allow her Sabbath observance. She turned heartbreak into healing and decided she could still spread joy as a princess. This drive may be the reason Jesse is the event planner for Lincoln’s Princess Ministries, working to keep their schedule full of royal adventures.
Recently the group had a unique opportunity to participate in an event hosted by Union College for People’s City Mission called “Drop Your Drawers.” Over 250 homeless and underprivileged Lincolnites were offered free undergarments, haircuts, nail painting, and good fun. Children posed with their favorite princesses and received a signed Polaroid to keep. Along with clothes and self-care products, families left with smiles.
A Royal Bloodline
While it didn’t start as a religious effort, Lincoln’s Princess Ministries echoes the words of Jesus every time they go out. Gal. 3:26 says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Each child these selfless princesses encounter deserves to feel like a prince or a princess even if they don’t know Jesus personally. They share His love everywhere they go, careful to stay in character, living out the scriptures from 1 John 1:3 that declares this exquisite love: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” Jesse, Kaitlynn, and Taylor take this time to share what they know of Jesus with others, and through Him, share joy with the poor, brokenhearted, sick, and sad.
A Royal Request
Each of the Lincoln Princesses has their own dream event. Taylor would love to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo. Jesse lives for the hospital visits. Kaitlynn loves to see how the adults react and are touched by their visits. The three girls agree they’d love to see the ministry grow so more families can be reached. They might travel further outside the city, might add a prince to their cast of performers, and may eventually have a budget to cover their small expenses of balloons, safety pins, flowers, and travel fuel.
Despite a limited notoriety in the community and a small following on social media, Lincoln’s Princess Ministries has all the heart of any ministry. The small group of young adults looked around them, saw a need, and chose to do all they can to fulfill it. They urge churches to cultivate this type of creativity in our young adults. To work for the Lord you need only respond to His direction, whether that means putting on a tiara and handing out balloons, or painting a fence, or serving soup at a shelter.