Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More to Thanksgiving than just food

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it does not have to be complicated. It can be, of course, all about the food and how the table looks. Food is important and being together with family and friends is certainly an American tradition. A Thanksgiving prayer is also part of that time with families.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 95. 
"Let us come before his presence with Thanksgiving..."

When believers give thanks it is not a tradition and hopefully not meaningless. What struck me is that true Thanksgiving is from the heart and ushers us into the presence of God.

Years ago we were invited to a Thanksgiving party. The couple had been renting for a number of years and this was the first year in their own home. As we stood in a circle of family before the meal the woman offered the most heartfelt prayer to God for their home. Why do I still remember this years later? Because suddenly we were all in the presence of the Lord!

Well, back to the picture of family, friends, and lots of food on a festive table with all the best.
What if we changed that picture?
Maybe a fire burned up their home?
Maybe family is elsewhere?
Maybe the money is not in pocket to feed the children? Maybe the rent went up, the car broke down, etc. How could there be Thanksgiving in poor circumstances? It is very difficult without a good support system.

The church needs to reach out with compassion. This Thanksgiving, Verbo Family Services in Redwood City, CA will extend itself to feed 500 families. This is a faith work started by Pastor Orlando Cardona and wife, Patty, our president, shortly after they arrived from Guatemala.

Now the church has grown from a small space to a large rented and refurbished warehouse. This Thanksgiving the church will become a gathering for 500 from many places. 500 people will sit down together and hear a message of hope because when God is really present there is always hope and help.

Imagine... A family enters. A mother and her twin boys about five, and another girl about 8. They have no food at home so all that happens here, will be remembered by them. Will their hearts be filled along with their stomachs? Will there be many Thanksgivings going up to God in this place? Yes and Yes again!

Look around. The poor, the hungry, the lost are all gathered together to eat. Yes, to eat and eat lots of everything. They also will be fed in their souls.

This is a welcoming place, a healing oasis in a mountain of human need. And yet, there will be music, laughter, and joy from above as the church ministers to the real needs of the people in this place.

Happy Thanks Giving and May You Enter into His Presence!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Your Kids May be a Victim

Let's talk about the boy on the porch. You may have seen him as you drive by. He sits in the porch of shabby, small house that needs demolishing. The boy sits on that porch doing nothing.

It is after school and as you wait for the light to change, you wonder why he isn't doing sports and why is he just there, alone? All of your kids are in activities every day after school and the non activity of this boy who must be about 10 years old and this is bothering you.

There is a rumble in the alley next to the porch and you see some older kids in a fancy car. Not much to guess these are drug dealers. The music blares and they are acting manic. The boy on the porch looks up and seems to be watching the kids in the car.

You think to yourself; "This can't be good"! But is it any of your business? The boy needs help. Parents? Someone to care? But maybe he has no one at all who can help.

Then the thought startles you. The boy clearly is on his own. Rents have gone up. Mother must be working more than one job to make it. Just as the light changes, you, observing this scene, remember something.

It tickles at the back of your mind. There is a free camp for disadvantaged kids. What's it called?
You think hard and as the light changes, then it comes to you — TOUCHDOWN CAMP in Verbo, Redwood City! Something about sports and free for kids. I should google this, she thinks glancing back at the boy.

The boy watches the woman zoom by in her car and knows nothing except he will have to get off the porch and go with the gang in a couple of years. That's just how it is.