Holidays on the Mission Field

Here’s an article in which we were interviewed about celebrating the holidays as an American family on the mission field. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Posted by Distant Fields on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Skipping Thanksgiving?

I faltered this year. I suggested to my wife and kids that we celebrate Thanksgiving by eating out at a restaurant. Can you believe it? I actually had Renee talked into it, but those children…

Thanksgiving in Bishkek

Thanksgiving with Grandpa George, Kyrgyzstan 2006.

Thanksgiving has always been a big holiday for our family. Wherever in the world we have found ourselves over the past 20+ years, we have had friends and family with whom to celebrate this special Day of Thanks. With lots of planning for the occasion, the locating of just the right ingredients in foreign countries, and the grand times of feasts and fellowship with friends and family, each Thanksgiving holiday was highly anticipated, a labor of love, and left us with lasting memories.

However, this year we find ourselves in a new country and missing our friends and family. I mean, we are still trying to figure out where to buy life’s essentials, let alone the necessities for a festive celebration. So the Grinch (me) entered into our family and woefully suggested an alternative menu and a different locale.

scrooge alley

Unacceptable! There were no mean words, but looks of wonder and astonishment. My children were aghast. “Father, how could we?” Although they are missing loved ones this year as well, they were ready to celebrate this special day with just our family. And so I find myself doing what I don’t want to do–shopping for a ham (which should be a bit easier since we are not in a Muslim country this year, but I am still having difficulty). I do have a secret though–since the kids haven’t mentioned sweet potatoes, I think I am off the hook on that one.

The main purpose of Thanksgiving does not change. In fact, perhaps the adjustment for us this year gets us even closer to the heart of the holiday. Yes, Thanksgiving is a time of gratefulness for family, friends, and loved ones. But when those things are stripped away from us, we see the need to continue to give thanks to a God who created us, saved us, and wants to be glorified in and through us. “Oh give thanks to the Lord…and make knows His deeds among the peoples!” Psalm 105:1. If you find yourself a little short on family or friends this Thanksgiving, join with us in reading though Ephesian chapter one–a list of all of the spiritual blessings that are available to us in Christ. And then, find ways to get involved in sharing those blessings with the nations.

  • We are thankful for the priceless gift of salvation, and the many spiritual blessings in Christ.
  • We are thankful for the privilege of serving the Lord overseas.
  • We are thankful for the many who partner with us in making His deeds known among the nations.
  • We are thankful for the legacy of those who have gone on before us.

By His Grace,

Jed Gourley

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