Thanksgiving provides the rare opportunity to pause and reflect during a time of the year when pausing and reflecting are often relegated to the corners of our busy lives. Our calendars are full, and our travel plans are intense. Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday which leads to Cyber Monday. Hopefully, amidst the non-stop busyness, there are at least a few precious moments where we can sit at a dinner table with family we rarely see. It can be both exhausting and wonderful.
For others, Thanksgiving is difficult, marred by separation from family or the desire for life to look different. For most of us, the holiday season brings a mixture of emotions. The grief of a recently deceased loved one intermingles with the joy of a new baby. The shame and guilt of broken relationships mixes with the hope of reconciliation.
For those of us at Reaching and Teaching, Thanksgiving provides a time to turn our attention in a special way on the many blessings we’ve enjoyed throughout the year. There’s much to celebrate. We praise God for our supported workers who have spread across the globe in the name of Christ, striving to serve faithfully as ambassadors to their King. We are thankful for these men, women, and families who are serving local churches, diligently working to ensure the gospel is front and center. We’re also thankful for the number of churches and families standing behind them so that they may be sent out and sustained in their work. We praise God for the gospel fruit from their labor, evidenced by individuals repenting and believing in Jesus, local believers being discipled, and churches strengthened in their love for Christ and for one another.
While we enjoy the opportunity to pause and give thanks, we nonetheless understand that Thanksgiving will likely look unusual for many of our workers across the nations. Most workers will celebrate Thanksgiving apart from their families and loved ones. For many, this past year has been filled with both great joys and celebrations and great challenges and sorrows. Mature disciples have been raised up, healthy churches have been established, local leaders have been trained—and loved ones have been lost, the gospel has been met with resistance, and spiritual warfare has intensified.
In the midst of this season of conflicting emotions, Paul reminds Christians why they can be thankful in the valley or the mountaintop: “I thank my God in all remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Why is he thankful? Because of gospel partners who have linked arms amid the trials of life to walk toward Heaven together.
Paul wrote these words to the Philippian church amid great trial and unrest. He was separated from them by hundreds of miles. He was in jail—with no immediate relief in sight. But Paul’s joy looked beyond his present difficulties because of the encouragement of his fellow partners. This support system spanned the known world for the sake of the gospel. It included spiritual enrichment through prayers and tangible offerings like financial gifts and personal help.
When we pause and remember, just as Paul did, our thoughts go to the partners who have linked arms with us and our workers. They’ve helped to sustain, love, pray for, and spur us on amid difficult gospel work for the sake of our Lord. In joy and in sorrow, we thank God for your partnership with us in spreading the good news of salvation through Christ.
Our great task at Reaching and Teaching would not be possible without the faithful support of thousands of partners in the gospel that span the globe. Your support has helped deploy more missionaries to go to more places to see more healthy churches established and built up around the world.
So, in whatever circumstances we face this Thanksgiving, faithful partners bring the joy of Christ to our hearts. This is true sitting at a table filled with family here in the United States or sitting at a table around the world in a country not our own.
Those of us on staff at Reaching and Teaching echo Paul’s prayer for the Philippians on behalf of all our partners this Thanksgiving. We pray “that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
We thank God for those of you who have linked arms with us. On behalf of our workers, we say, “thank you.” May we all be filled with the fruit of righteousness from Jesus Christ in this life so that we may reach Heaven and enjoy an eternal Thanksgiving together.