Scripture commands the faithful to give thanks (1Thess. 5:18). Thanksgiving is not optional. But it’s not a chore either. The grace of God through Jesus Christ naturally wells up and overflows in thanksgiving – in all circumstances no less. As you take time to personally prepare for our country’s annual Thanksgiving holiday and set the table for feasting, don’t forget to root your thanksgiving in the gracious work of Jesus Christ through His Spirit in your life. Consider…how have you grown spiritually this year? How has your family grown? How have we grown as a church family even?
As we ponder things we are thankful for, I want to mention a recent event I’m thankful for and encouraged by—our “A Taste of Thanksgiving” ISI International Student Outreach dinner that took place this past Wednesday evening. What a great example of “enhanced engagement” into our community, which is one of TFC’s key areas of emphasis and vision we have talked so much about recently! To show you how this worked….
This past Wed. evening our faithful “kitchen ladies,” who provide a hearty meal each Wednesday before our ministry programs, were asked to stretch and prepare a Thanksgiving meal as we invited local international Richland college students to join us. (This group of students have been interacting with our missions team members Liz Shaw & Tommie Hibberd. Tommie & Liz are working with Bridges International and Campus Crusade at Richland to host Bible Studies and social events at TFC for these students). We thought Thanksgiving would be great time to get to know these students, fellowship with them, and introduce them to a uniquely American holiday. (Thanks to Michele Roberts for envisioning that it could be done and for cheering us on from home as she recovers form a back injury!) The missions team stepped up to help advertise, invite members of our Body to be dinner conversation partners and to coach conversations. Last year we encouraged TFC families to “save a spot” at their Thanksgiving dinner tables for international students, but had an underwhelming participation of only 3 students. This year we held 20 spots for students at our “A Taste Of Thanksgiving” Wednesday night dinner, and 20 signed up, plus a few more! All were warmly welcomed. Well fed. Encouraged by the conversations, games, and opportunity to share reasons for gratitude. The students felt like they were part of a family Wednesday. They sensed and were warmly welcomed into what we feel is to be a core component of our identity as a church: a loving family with a multi-generational reach. I suppose we should expand that concept appropriately to include “multi-cultural” as well. With the new friendships formed, I imagine we might have even more students invited to the homes of our church family in the future. Thanks for reaching out.
So, with an overflowing heart of thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior, and to you as a church Body for reaching out to those around us in Richardson, I am most thankful.