Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. We trace it's origins back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. In modern times we associate Thanksgiving with many new traditions. Football. Parades. A Presidential pardon for one lucky turkey. Feasting with family and friends, followed by a peaceful nap. It is the official kick-off event for the holiday season as we ramp up for Christmas.
Interestingly, Thanksgiving was a practice before Plymouth. The first recorded instance of a Thanksgiving feast in America was by the colonists of the Virginia Colony, grateful for the Providence of God. After the American Revolution it was also a Virginian, George Washington as the nation's first President, who set the precedent of a national holiday for the purpose of giving thanks to God. (Two great reasons to love Virginia.)
The newly formed Congress urged the President "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God..." There was much to be thankful for. America had secured it's right to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a hard fought revolution. In response to Congress, Washington declared 26 November 1789 as the first national day of Thanksgiving “to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection..for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced...”
In the original spirit of Thanksgiving, to acknowledge the Providence of God, we'd like to say a few things that we are thankful for that have occurred in the last year.
We are thankful for the protection and guidance of our team that went to Yida, South Sudan as we found ourselves surrounded on all sides by violence.
We are thankful for the medical supplies that were delivered to the churches in Yida that treated hundreds of refugees.
We are thankful for the opportunity to gather with the pastors in Yida to pray together and give training.
We are so thankful for Pastor Wesley, who appeared almost like an angel from nowhere, to coordinate all the logistics that made Yida a success.
We are thankful for the great leadership that we have been blessed with in Costa Rica that hosted local pastors, Central American missionaries, and missions teams from the US at Refugio Solte.
We are thankful for new church partnerships in San Jose.
We are especially thankful on this day of feasting for the support we received that kept a feeding center in DRC open for the year, saving some children from suffering a slow death by starvation.
We are thankful for the two water projects in eastern DRC, that are providing water in a place where no one else will go.
We are thankful for a new school that has been built in South Sudan, that serves redeemed slave children with the hopes they will become church leaders instead of warlords.
We are thankful for a new grinding mill in Yida that helps women to feed their children and the churches there to become self-sustaining, instead of reliant upon humanitarian aid.
Most of all, we are immeasurably thankful for all those who have given to ATC to make all of these things possible. May you and your loved ones be blessed this holiday season. Today is a day to rejoice in the provision and protection we have enjoyed. We would also ask that as you do, you please join us in thanking God for and asking for his continued providence that we may be a continued blessing of peace and prosperity to all people, especially those in difficult to reach places.