A different Thanksgiving

by Philip Swyers, Commissioner –

What a difference a year makes in one’s life even in this great Salvation Army!

When I think of Thanksgiving Day, my mind wanders back to when I was a boy sitting around our family’s dining room table gazing at a great feast. My mother would place several kernels of corn at everyone’s plate to remind us of the yesterdays when the Pilgrims had so little. Life for them was hard, but God was faithful.

All too soon, the years passed—the difference this time was that our family sat around a beautiful dining room table where my wife had prepared a feast, and our two sons sat wide-eyed and ready to eat as I carved the turkey. The tradition continued as they too were reminded of God’s goodness and care for them now and in the years to come. Like the Pilgrims, our family has enjoyed God’s care and support because we are his children.

Last year we certainly experienced a different Thanksgiving as we were in South Africa to conduct meetings and commissioning events, and we feasted on “fish ‘n chips” in a local restaurant. The meal was different but the fellowship was warm and good.

Our eyes were again opened to the needs of the world. We learned of the many officers who were dealing with HIV patients on a daily basis, children who had lost parents and were now alone except the love and care they were given by our Salvation Army. Yes, our Thanksgiving was different, but God reminded us again that we can trust him with all our needs, and that we can cast all our cares on him. We were reminded of our many officers and friends who will spend this Thanksgiving Day preparing a “feast” for those who would otherwise be hungry and lonely but for the love and concern of the many who are willing to serve.

Abraham Lincoln shared the story of calling a man to his office during the Civil War whom he wanted as an intelligence officer in the Union Army. He asked him to serve as a secret agent—a dangerous, perhaps life-threatening, assignment. Lincoln asked him, “How much do you love your country?” The man thought and said, “I would die for it.” Lincoln then said, “I can find 10,000 men to die for America, but I want you to live for it.”

It is true in South Africa, America, or wherever we may find ourselves. Our mission is to serve this present age in the name of Christ.

Enjoy a wonderful feast and enjoy the day with family and friends as you thank God for the countless blessings that he gives you, and may you live for the mission to serve others in his name.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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