Strikingly similar events occurred on Thanksgiving Eve of 1986 and 1987. On both days I worked at the office later than usual. On both days I encountered needy people just as I prepared to rush home to complete last minute preparations for my family’s Thanksgiving celebration.
On each of the two years, help was available for the needy families I encountered, thanks to the generosity of people in our community. All I had to do to find food and shelter for them was to call some of the dedicated volunteers who managed the Community Action Mission Program (CAMP) in our area, and they took care of everything from that point forward.
With a grateful heart, I drove home. However, two questions troubled me: (1) What would I have done if I’d been unable to find the help the families needed? (2) Would I have invited the strangers to share my warm home and to enjoy the delicious Thanksgiving meal?
Iï¿½d like to think that I would have taken the needy ones home with me, but I probably would not have. I would not have left them alone, however. I probably would have secured shelter and food for them at a local motel and restaurant, even if I’d ended up with the bill. Then, though it is painful for me to admit, I would have gone home, relieved to have the unpleasant task behind me.
As I reflect on those two Thanksgiving Eve episodes, the words of Christ come into my mind and shame me. “I assure you, when you [ministered to] one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Matthew 25:40, New Living Translation).
Then, with a contrite heart I pray, “Lord, change my attitude about ministry. Help me to rejoice rather than to resent the needy people who come my way. Help me to see each one as You do. Remind me that in every ministry situation I have an opportunity to be loving, kind, and generous – as if to You.”
Excerpted from Reflections, ©2002, by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill. Used by permission.
Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill is an author, a newspaper columnist, photographer, and poet, as well as “Nana ” to her three grandchildren. She welcomes visitors to her website ( http://www.eThomaston.net/johnnie ) and comments via email@example.com.
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