Every year, millions of American families get together for Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday thats purpose is about giving thanks for the good things in life and spending time with the ones you love.
But what about the man who is homeless this Thanksgiving? Or the mom with two small children and nowhere to go? Is there anything worth being thankful for this holiday season?
With your help, this Thanksgiving can be different for countless hungry and homeless men, women, and children in the Nashville community as their lives are touched through the Mission’s Annual Great Thanksgiving Banquet. While there are many without homes to go to, there is a place where the door is always open—Nashville Rescue Mission.
And if you ask, many of the guests staying at the Mission will tell you, there are many reasons to be thankful. Despite being homeless, they have learned there is power in a thankful heart.
“It is not always easy to give thanks, but it’s the very thing we must do, to see God’s will accomplished in our lives,” said Jerry, who’s been staying at the Mission this past year. “I’ve got a lot of health problems. It would be easy to think ‘woe is me,’ but I’m grateful, I’m looking forward to enjoying the Thanksgiving feast at the Mission. I hear it’s amazing.”
When it comes to a sizable guest list for Thanksgiving dinner, the Mission outnumbers even the biggest of families. With your help, over 6,000 meals will be served this Thanksgiving to the homeless in Nashville. Volunteers will arrive as early as 4:00 a.m. to start preparing for the day’s meals. Every turkey must be carved, every potato chopped, every pie sliced. So much time and preparation goes into preparing and serving this extra-special meal. While the Mission focuses on providing those in need with food to nourish their bodies, with your support, the Mission also provides the spiritual guidance they need to nourish their souls.
“I recently completed the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. I found a job, and for the first time, I’m learning how to save money,” said Chris. “I’ve learned life skills and work skills that are preparing me for my future. I’m thankful for the Mission, and the support friends like you give to make this place a reality.”
It’s hard to imagine how men and women who are in the deepest and darkest time of their lives can find something to be thankful for. Yet, gratitude seems to be the antidote to life’s hardships and a magnifier of its blessings. Many of the men and women at the Mission demonstrate on a daily basis that having an attitude of gratitude expands their capacity to feel joy. It’s not something that is felt only in good times, but is something practiced at all times.
“When we choose to see life through the eyes of gratitude, it changes everything. Especially each of us,” said Amy, who has only been staying at the Mission for a couple of months. “I find something to be thankful for every day.”
“The translation of the word thanksgiving is ‘good grace’ in the New Testament’s original language,” said Rev. Glenn Cranfield, president and CEO of the Mission. “When we are thankful, we are remembering the One who owes us nothing, but gives us all. Isn’t that the very nature of grace—receiving what we do not deserve? Watching a guest who has seemingly lost everything, lift their hands in praise during a nightly chapel service is humbling. I’m so thankful for you and other faithful friends who support us. It’s because of you, those in need can find a safe sanctuary, a hot, nutritious meal, a shower, clean clothes, and a place where hope lives.”
I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year,” said Lisa. For her, being homeless on Thanksgiving had only welled up feelings of guilt and shame. But this year she’s excited to graduate from the program the day before Thanksgiving and is especially thankful for all she has learned during her recovery.
“It’s not just about serving them a traditional Thanksgiving meal,” says Cranfield. “The meal might be the first step in reaching a man or woman struggling with homelessness or in the grip of addiction and guiding them down a new path. It’s an opportunity to show them there is hope. And because of you, Hope Lives Here.”