Copyright (c) 2018 Baptist Press. Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), account account of the Southern Baptist Convention. The aboriginal adventure can be begin at http://bpnews.net/51991/thanksgiving-the-best-jello-ever-and-the-promise-of-home
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CENTRAL ASIA (BP) — Our aboriginal Thanksgiving in Central Asia was like a affluence hunt.
One assistant stood in a continued band to buy bread; addition bought and broiled an atrophied chicken. Potatoes — the one aliment we had in affluence — were mashed and salted.
Someone catholic 6,000 afar with a box of Jell-O in his attache and absitively to allotment it with the blow of us. It was the best Jell-O ever.
But alike added than the food, I bethink the laughter. We were in a aphotic abode and we acquainted cogent airy oppression, but the aggregate adversity created a different camaraderie. We laughed calm at our accent mistakes and cultural missteps. We thanked God that we’d fabricated it aloof one added day.
We were anniversary active our own crude story: far from home, abiding by grace, acquirements to adulation and acclimate aural addition culture.
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On our aboriginal Thanksgiving overseas, and for abounding since, I’ve been addled at the means God has affectionately accomplished us as sojourners in a aberrant land, giving us joy and ancestors and a new compassionate of home. Indeed, over the years, the Thanksgiving anniversary has reminded me beneath and beneath of the home we’ve larboard abaft and added and added of the home that Jesus promises us ahead.
Longing for home
My bedmate tells the adventure of his aboriginal cruise to the U.S. afterwards active in Central Asia for a year. He sat in his adolescence bedroom, assuredly home, and he was afraid to still feel homesick. In that moment he accepted that he was anxious for article above the actual — above the amore of his accustomed bed awning or his mom’s cooking.
This abode he ached for — that all of us continued for no amount area we alive — is the Kingdom of God. Writer and preacher Frederick Buechner explains: “The Kingdom of God is area we belong. It is home, and whether we apprehend it or not, I anticipate we are all of us alone for it.”
This ability is one allowance of active overseas. Of all of our American holidays, Thanksgiving encapsulates the joys of home — family, feasting, fellowship. To be far from home gives us the befalling to bark abroad the layers of meaning, to ask the question: What am I missing? And if we sit with our homesickness continued enough, we get to accomplish a choice, aloof like Sarah and Abraham did, to fix our achievement elsewhere.
“If they had been cerebration of the country they had left, they would accept had befalling to return,” we apprehend in Hebrews 11:15–16 (NIV). “Instead, they were anxious for a bigger country — a adorable one. Therefore God is not abashed to be alleged their God, for he has able a burghal for them.”
Thanksgiving reminds me that we are all pilgrims, and we aren’t yet home.
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Gifted with family
If you ask my developed children, now active in the U.S., what they absence about Central Asia, they will acquaint you about the ancestors gatherings. About “uncles” who angle alfresco on algid Thanksgiving mornings and deep-fry four or bristles turkeys, about “aunts” who accompany pies and accolade and mashed potatoes and rolls. About all-day celebrations alternate by adoration and laughter.
These uncles and aunts are not claret relatives. They are teammates who accept become ancestors by best and by God’s grace. They are the bodies who accomplishment us aback our car break down, who bethink the date my mom died, who augment and affliction for our kids aback we accept to leave the country for a meeting. They are the bodies who apperceive how abhorrent I am at baby allocution or how aflame I am to acquisition Doritos at the store.
They accomplish me affronted and abort me. They adulation me and they absolve me. And added than anything, they are to me a ahead of a affiance fulfilled, as announced by Jesus in Matthew 19:29 (NASB): “Everyone who has larboard houses or brothers or sisters or ancestor or mother or wife or accouchement or fields for my account will accept a hundred times as abundant and will accede abiding life.”
On Thanksgiving day — and as generally as we can administer contrarily — we accumulate to eat and adjure and comedy and worship. And in the abysmal acquaintance of those times, we bolt the aroma of heaven.
Looking against a harvest
But it’s not aloof our American teammates who are ancestors to us. Thanksgiving reminds us of a autumn that God is accomplishment — a autumn of souls from every bodies and nation. Some of those adored bodies cull up chairs to our Thanksgiving table.
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I anticipate of Janabek*, who never misses a party. Orphaned as a child, he saw the adulation of Jesus in one of our teammates and longed to apperceive this adulation and accord in his own life. A first-generation believer, he has suffered and stumbled, and yet he holds on.
Or Marat*. Also an orphan, adopted into an American family, he has accepted Jesus and now preaches the Gospel to his own people.
Janabek and Marat are affirmation of promises kept, as able-bodied as reminders of the promises yet unfulfilled: of the peoples amid whom acknowledgment to Jesus is not yet a reality.
Not every missionary in every abode gets the absolution of affluent times of fellowship. Some activity a continued way from teammates or added believers. Likewise, not every aggregation is seeing a autumn yet.
But no amount area we are or whatever our circumstances, the Thanksgiving anniversary gives us an befalling to bless God’s attendance with us about the table. We about-face our absorption forward, not back. We attending to the day aback we will assuredly barbecue contiguous with Jesus, shoulder-to-shoulder with brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, bodies and accent (Revelation 7:9).
We will assuredly be home, and the Thanksgiving anniversary will never end.
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