Category Archives: Nonprofit Spotlight

Maggio: Sex and the single mom

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By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

Yep, I’m going there. There’s no sense in pretending the subject does not exist, so… buckle up.

I recently came across a website that INFURIATED me. In fact, that is probably a serious understatement. Since my life’s passion is singledsc_0062 moms, I am always researching single parents’ topics. I happened upon an article regarding sex and singles. I would not dare give you the name of the site, because I will not give them the satisfaction of multiple hits. But here is what the meat of the article said, loosely translated:

“My name is Sally. I am single. I have been for some time. I am also a Christian. I have been for some time. And I am sexually active. I have been for some time. God created sex. Sex is good. And since no normal human being would be able to abstain for any length of time anyway (and God really does not expect us to), I know God will forgive me. I’m going for it and you should do the same.”

The lengthy article sparked quite the controversy. I almost chimed in with the hundreds of other comments and voiced my outrage, but quickly knew that it would fall on deaf ears and she wrote that article (and many like it) for that exact reason.

Eighty percent of the country identifies themselves as Christian, so why is it that none of us talk about this subject? Christians follow God’s written word as their life’s instruction book – The Bible. The Bible is more than clear on its principles regarding sex.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does…” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT).

There are dozens and dozens of Scriptures that outline God’s word for how sex is supposed to happen. Sex is good. It IS right. But only within God’s plan for our lives.

This is not new news for most of us. We’ve heard it before. But have you ever wondered why God puts such a difficult “don’t” on our list? Have you ever thought, like the woman above, that this was a ridiculous measure for which no one could ever live up to? That ain’t right how God won’t let us have any fun, huh?

Well let me tell you what “ain’t right”…

– Suicides among teen girls

– Sexually transmitted diseases affect millions

– AIDS in still an incurable disease

– Millions of babies have been killed through abortion, because moms cannot afford to or do not see how they could care for them.

– Fifty percent of babies are born outside marriage today, which leads to single parenting. Single parenting among those under 25 is most often associated with lower income rates, higher high school dropout rates, suicide, depression, and abuse.

Those are the facts. (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). That does not even broach the subject of giving oneself over sexually to another and how the emotions tie in or the broken hearts that follow

Let me challenge you with this idea. As a parent, when we tell our 7-year-old not to play in the street, is it because we do not want him to have any fun playing kickball with his friends? Are we just plain ol’ mean parents? No, of course not. It is because we understand the potential danger that our precious 7-year-old could experience and we want to protect him — EVEN IF HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY. The exact same is true for Christians. Our Heavenly Father does not want to hinder joy in our lives, but He does want to protect us from potential harm.

And before you decide that I am some rigid, unbending, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-Bible, finger-pointing, judgmental Christian, let me stop you. I WAS some of those statistics. I was sexually active at 13, pregnant four times by 19, and dabbled in sexual promiscuity for years thereafter, living in poverty, depression, abuse, and more. I have lived it and seen first-hand the devastation it causes.

Today, as I work full time with single parents, I have seen hundreds of young teens walk through the most difficult seasons of their lives because they did not wait. I’ve seen thousands of single moms struggle emotionally and financially, because they did not wait. I’ve seen the trickle affect that this one simple concept (or lack thereof) has had on our economy, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth.

And before my inbox is flooded with countless emails, let me be clear. Everyone has their list of issues they are working on. (I know I sure do). No one thing is greater than the other. I am not saying this is just a single parent problem, obviously, but my passion is for helping the single parent live a better life.

Before you embark on one more meaningless sexual relationship that could very well leave you more emotionally broken, more financially broken, and more spiritually broken, think about its effects and know that there is great freedom in simply waiting for the right one.

Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her riveting story of homelessness, severe abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies. She has appeared on countless radio and television programs, and she is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more information, visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.

 

Meals on Wheels Abilene recognizes Hardin-Simmons baseball players

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Special to Inside The Pew

ABILENE, Texas – A group of Hardin-Simmons baseball players haveHSU baseball been named Volunteer of the Month for April for Meals on Wheels Plus Inc. in Abilene.

HSU athletics announced April 4 pitcher Tyler Brunnemann (Garden Ridge, Texas), Andrew Bell, infielder Eric Zamora (Garland), third baseman Jordan Dotson (Lewisville) and pitcher Chas Quisenberry (Lubbock) were recognized for the efforts by the Abilene chapter of the national nonprofit organization.

Hardin-Simmons baseball has had a group of players volunteering with the organization since October 2008 and the players started this on their own back then and it has continued to be a tradition for the program.

“This is something they have done on their own,” said HSU head coach Steve Coleman. “We believe that there are a lot more important things to college kids than playing baseball or going to school. We want them to be well rounded. It is always nice to see your kids being recognized for helping others.

According to Meals on Wheels, the athletes delivered two routes a week and one player volunteers in the pantry twice a week bagging groceries for their clients. The teammates made deliveries every Monday and Wednesday on non-game days.

Meals on Wheels provides meals to homes of seniors whose mobility is limited. Learn more about the Abilene initiative at http://mealsonwheelsplus.com and the national organization at www.mealsonwheels.org.

Maggio: Starting a single moms ministry in your church

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By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – With almost 15 million single parents in the country today, many churches are beginning to focus on the need to minister

Jennifer Maggio

Jennifer Maggio

to single parents more effectively. Our organization is elated to be part of that journey. We receive tons of questions about how to minister to the needs of single parents in a more effective, creative, long-term way. We believe one of those ways is through a single moms support group. It provides long-term discipleship, beyond simply an outreach, an event, or a meal.

For those who have not started a single moms support group in your church, here are a few things you may want to know.  For those who have started a group and are frustrated with the lack of growth or possible issues within the group, read on. We’ll try to help you with those questions, too.

Before I launched The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, I was fortunate enough to work with my local church. This has allowed me to gain great wisdom and insight on what does and does not work within the walls of the church on ministering to single mothers. There is very, very little resource material on the market for single parent ministries and the little that is out there is often written by someone who has yet to be in the trenches running a successful program.  (It’s kinda like buying a parenting book from someone who hasn’t parented).

Here are a few things we’ve learned that may help you in your single moms ministry endeavor:

  1. Recognize that not every single mom is a “churched” divorced single mom. Less than 1 percent of the 300,000 Christian churches in the country have single parent support groups. The few that do often focus on the single moms that are already in their church. This is a big problem, in light of the fact that only 33% of single moms attend church. In order to grow your support group, you must focus on reaching those outside your church.
  2. Teach relevant material. In my work with helping to grow single parent groups, one of the first things we do is change the teaching material. Many of the groups are teaching deep Bible studies on the book of Ruth, the Proverbs 31 woman, etc. While these are excellent teaching tools for the future, focusing on deep Bible study, when a single mom’s life is potentially falling apart (financially, emotionally, and with her parenting skills) is not a timely message.
  3. Meet at a time that is convenient for the momFriday nights, Saturday nights, or Sunday afternoons tend to work best. Moms who are parenting school-age children have homework to contend with. Wednesday nights tend to be most convenient for the church, as childcare workers are already available, but this is probably not the best time for the mothers. And if you want to begin to reach outside the walls of the church to bring in mothers who aren’t yet connected, offering a more convenient meeting time is critical. In addition, a full work-week tends to make a single mom’s support group a daunting task, not a welcomed break … but if you meet on a weekend, she is more relaxed and open to receive new friendships and experiences.

There are a ton of tips that we have found work, but this gives you a brief start. Having said all that, recognize that groups do not grow overnight. Be diligent and faithful with the women you have! You may also be interested in The Church and the Single Mom Resource Kit that offers a comprehensive resource for answering all single parent ministry questions, training new volunteers, growing the ministry, effective discipleship, logistics, and so much more. For more information, visit  http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com/.

 

Rawles: Cautions for seniors seeking to re-enter workplace

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By David Rawles
Special to Inside The Pew

As the baby boomers enter into retirement and then come out again to return to work, it is quite clear there is no more work for most of them. That is what I keep hearingDavid Rawles from the boomers and older retirees who attend our job seeker workshops and seminars.

They are wrong! The message I try to convey is that many seniors are getting and holding down good jobs, responsible jobs. And I have learned over the years, even as I approach senior status, that many times age is not really the issue. But I am ahead of myself.

Many older workers need to sell to employers the things that many employers really desire in their employees. Things like mature thinking, responsible behavior, and wisdom are important traits to be flown high on one’s flag pole of accomplishments. Employers will often value an older worker’s experience in problem solving, and the consistent attendance and punctuality which demonstrates one’s ability to fulfill a commitment. Out of a mature employee’s experience they can share the wisdom that only experience can teach.

There are a few caution flags for those seniors who intend to pursue employment once again. For many smaller employers – the non-Fortune 500 employers – hiring managers are often blind to chronological age. It is not about physical age, exactly. It is about one’s ability to behave in spite of one’s physical age. It is about one’s mental age.  Demonstrating vitality, enthusiasm, energy and interest is key to getting hired.

Many older workers are rejected for jobs not because they are old, but because they act like the stereotypical older worker. If one hopes to be seen as a valuable employee, they must position themselves as one who learns like a twenty-something. Show how you are willing to take additional education, or learn new technologies, or venture into new territory.

It is also advisable for the older worker to position themselves as submissive to authority. Many older workers are viewed as know-it-alls, hard to manage, and impossible to lead. They appear arrogant to the younger leaders in an organization. It is this perceived arrogance that stands in the way of many an older candidate trying to land a good job. Telling one’s future boss you know more than they do will not likely land one the job.

David Rawles is devoting his life to helping others achieve significance. After a 31 year corporate career in HR, David founded CareerSolutions, a non-profit devoted to helping people locate, land, and succeed in their careers. He is an author, speaker and radio host. See www.careersolutionsworkshop.org.

Robertson: Evening with King inspires me to live my dream

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By Anita Jannell-Robertson
Special to Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – “I have a dream. So I’d die for it, so much so that I actually live for it.”

Alveda King – niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – was the keynote speaker at an elegant event where I recently had the privilege of serving as guest recording

Anita Jarrell-Robertson meets with Alveda King during a fundraising banquet  for Women's Health Center in Baton Rouge on March 1.

Anita Jarrell-Robertson meets with Alveda King during a fundraising banquet for Women’s Health Center in Baton Rouge on March 1.

artist for the evening on March 1 at The Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, La.

The Women’s Help Center hosted its 15th annual fundraising banquet to help support families in the Baton Rouge community. The center  has been providing services to more than 30,000 women experiencing unplanned and/or crisis pregnancies for nearly 20 years.

Moved to tears on several occasions throughout the evening, I dedicated my hit song, “Even Me” to Alveda King and anyone else in the audience who had either had an abortion or been accomplice to one. Little did I know King had planned to base much of her presentation on the controversial pro-life topic, including her own heart-penetrating testimony about the perils of abortion and its effects on the family and community.

Alveda C. King serves as a Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. She is also a voice for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, a member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, and a former college professor and member of the Georgia State House of Representatives.

Beyond sharing about how difficult it was to grow up in the historical shadow of her grandfather (a powerful minister), father (a civil rights activist the Rev. A.D. King) and her uncle (MLK), Alveda King reminded us all to let our light shine and to remember that it wasn’t so little after all. She told us that every time she shared her story, she got a little more healing. She talked about a lyric in my song, “Even Me,” and that gripped my soul – “the exchange at the Cross is mighty to save.”

Was she really referencing my music?  It was a life-altering experience, a real game changer because I am a Christian recording artist with fans in several countries on all seven continents. Would I have been able to do that as comfortably if it had not been for the selfless contribution of Dr. King and her family?  Probably not.

What about the other unsung heroes? My grandfathers. One was a sharecropper who demanded that my father “leave this place boy, ain’t got nothin’ for ya here.” My father went on to be a military veteran, business man, and a pastor.  My other grandfather was a civil rights activist himself, who feared for his life as he hosted and attended secret meetings for black farmers across the South in a time when it was almost a sin for blacks to be farmers in their own right. His daughter, my mother, is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, beautiful and brilliant. My mother continues to run with seeming ease and integrity the business my father began long before his death.

Taken from my song, “Even Me,” “You will pour water on the soul who is thirsty…flood upon the dry ground.  And You’ll pour Your Spirit on the seed of the righteous.  Your blessings are flowing now!  So I pour my soul out to You!  And You pour Your soul out to me!!  The exchange at the Cross, Lord, I believe . . . is mighty to save- even me.”  On his death bed, my father’s eyes softened as I sang to him.  My heart is sore only because I wish he had been there to witness Dr. King mentoring me after the event before both our tables were crowded with fans and well wishers.

In retrospect, Dr. Alveda King’s statement to me is one I will carry in my heart forever, “Anita, there is a new sound of worship in the earth and it’s you.  Your music transcends realms.”  Realms?  Not just races?  Not just genders?  Not just religions?  Realms?  Well, amen.  I receive that.  Do you?

I always wondered what it would be like to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Always wondered what it would be like to be in the presence of such greatness.  Well, being with his niece fulfilled that curiosity.  Her essence caused us all to erupt in applause after her address.  The applause I received after my songs “Even Me” and “Future Generations” were graciously received, but I would have paid to just package that applause and give it to an elder soldier, Dr. King.  Getting to know her for a moment, I believe she would have just given it right back.

Applause is a kind gesture, but for those of us who believe we are called by God to affect nations, generations, realms even, applause belongs to the One who called us, who mercifully empowers us on a daily basis to be who we are in Him.

Anita Jarrell-Robertson, a native of Dallas and resident of Baton Rouge, is a contemporary Christian recording artist. Visit her website at www.anitaworships.com. Email her at booking@anitaworships.com. Find Anita on Facebook and on Twitter @anitaworships.

Proposed U.S. tax reforms could devastate charities

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) — The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is considering comprehensive tax reforms that will directly affect charitable giving – including

Ruth Thomas

Ruth Thomas

“limiting the tax rate against which contributions may be deducted; a dollar cap on total itemized deductions; [and] a floor below which contributions may not be deducted.”

The restrictions could be devastating for charities like SAT-7 (http://sat7usa.org), which broadcasts Christian satellite television to over 15 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as our ministry, ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) – www.assistnews.net.

On Feb. 14, Ruth Thomas, VP for Finance and Administration at SAT-7 USA, testified at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington, D.C. She discussed the far-reaching importance of charitable deductions, as well as the integrity and efficiency with which non-profits like SAT-7 operate.

“Non-profits have struggled since 2008 because of the Recession. To hamstring the public’s generosity at this point would severely impact the good work of thousands of non-profits to change the law in such a way that limits the ability of non-profits to do good with well-established efficiency and effectiveness will mean that needs will go unmet, or must be addressed by more government spending, with less efficiency,” she told committee members.

Thomas manages the SAT-7 USA office in Easton, Md. She has been with the organization for 10 years. As a non-profit finance officer, Ruth works with the President, Board of Directors and International CFO to maintain a high level of transparency and accountability to SAT-7’s donor base. She ensures that the internal workings of accounting, marketing and development operations at SAT-7 are functioning properly.

SAT-7 has achieved a 4-star rating with Charity Navigator© for the past three years, has had BBB© accreditation since 2011, and is a member in good standing with ECFA® since 1999.

“Please join us in praying for the wisdom and discernment of the House Ways and Means Committee members, as they consider possible reforms for charitable giving tax laws,” said a spokesperson for SAT-7 USA.

To read more about the hearing, please go to: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=318995

Greater Sixty Aid continues service to Baton Rouge communities

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Editor’s note: This story originally ran on Inside The Pew on Nov. 20, 2009. Visit the Greater Sixty Aid Baptist Church website at www.greatersixtyaidbc.org.

By Tamikia Jones
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Rev. James Barrett Sr. is in the midst of bringing God’s word to the Gardere community and the city of Baton Rouge. After all, he is part of a historic congregation that has done so since 1876.

Barrett’s road to Greater Sixty Aid is a journey of sacrifice, the husband and father of two said. He traveled around the country for 13 years evangelizing. Concerned and tired of the wear and tear on his body, Barrett said her started his own Bible study in December 2007, where he established a following that are still with him today.

In January, Barrett, together with the congregation, celebrated his acceptance of pastorship over Greater Sixty Aid.

The church is located at 655 Gardere Lane in Louisiana’s state capitol.

“Everything just flowed,” Barrett said.  “I have to attribute everything to God, He ordered my steps,” he said as he reflects on his coming to Greater Sixty Aid.

The pastor said education is an important element of ministering to people.  Make no mistake, Barrett places the same emphasis on his own education, which is why he is constantly researching and reading ensuring that he provides his congregation with good information.

“It’s important to understand what and why you believe,” he said. “Theology shapes people’s lives,” Barrett said. “Pastors are shaping how people think, and you do not want to give out bad information.”

Barrett said his preaching philosophy is to provide empowerment, encouragement, forgiveness and healing.

“Church is not a place to come to get beat down, we all need to be encouraged,” he said.

Not only is Rev. Barrett touching the lives of the members and guests of his church, he said his future plans include reaching out to the surrounding Gardere area. That is weighed down by drugs, high crime, and low-income families.

Barrett also has a passion for helping children. Greater Sixty Aid has recruited personnel to organize Boy and Girl Scout troops. They have also brought in an instructor for liturgical dance, he said. Moreover, two computers have been donated in effort to develop a small lab.

Currently lending a much-needed hand to the surrounding community is the Food Bank Program that is run by the church. The ministry issues multiple boxes of food and
toiletries to qualifying low-income families.

“The Christian walk and salvation is not just an experience of God, it’s a sense of renewed commitment to live a better life in truth, to share that knowledge and an appreciation for God.”

Austin marketing company to help 500 Texas nonprofits with web hosting

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Is your nonprofit in need of funds for web hosting? Fahrenheit Marketing in Austin might be able to meet the need.

Ricardo Casas, CEO of the Web design firm, recently announced his company will underwrite Web hosting for 500 charities through its FahrenHosting program.

The deadline to register for the program is Jan. 31.

“We wanted to make a small difference for a lot of organizations that serve our community. Having a website is vital for almost every charity now, but paying for Web hosting is yet another yearly expense for nonprofits that are trying to find the best use for every dollar they receive,” Casas said. “We chose to do this because we wanted to make keeping a website a little easier for nonprofit organizations that serve our state.”

Casas said if less than 500 nonprofits apply, all will receive Web hosting for a year. If more than 500 nonprofits apply, the staff will narrow the field based on the nonprofit’s need and scope.

To qualify for the program, organizations must currently have a functioning website, serve Texas in whole or in part, be a registered 501 (c) 3, and be willing to mention Fahrenheit Marketing as the Web host sponsor.

Casas said organizations can register for the FahrenHosting program by filing out the contact form at http://www.fahrenheitmarketing.com/contact-us/.

In addition, Fahrenheit Marketing is offering a $50,000 Web design grant to one lucky Austin charity. To register for the grant program for Austin-based nonprofits, visit www.fahrenheitmarketing.com/fahrengrant. The winner of the grant will be picked by the Fahrenheit staff and selection will be based on applicant need, reach and focus of the applicant, and how fun the project looks.

The FahrenHosting program won’t require nonprofit organizations to switch hosting services, but will instead pay for the hosting through whichever service the charity currently uses.

For more information on Fahrenheit Marketing, visit www.fahrenheitmarketing.com.

Media is not alone in need to learn more about mental health

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

When the news that Newtown, Conn., school massacre shooter Adam Lanza had Asperger’s Syndrome, the media immediately began to spew false information about autism. Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder, not a mental illness. Since the Dec. 14 attack that left 20 children and six adults dead, professionals who work in mental health and parents of children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have taken a stand to educate the public.

“They (the media) are trying to connect some dots, because that is what they do,” said Aimee Colbert, a pastoral counselor in Fort Worth. “Without knowing the truth is irresponsible, it is bad on their part. This type of reaction is especially trying on the people who have to deal with it.”

The media is not the only institution that needs help understanding mental health and developmental disorders; the church does too.

For years, the mental health community has felt the church needs to step beyond reading scripture and prayer to help parents and children of their congregations.

In 2011, author Edward Rogers, and psychologist Matthew Stanford and social worker Diana Garland of Baylor University, found in their study, “The Effects of Mental Illness On Families With Faith Communities,” that “mental illness of a family member can destroy the family’s connection with the religious community, leading many affected families to leave the church and their faith behind.”

The study, which appeared in the online journal “Mental Health, Religion, and Culture,” interviewed 6,000 participants from 24 churches representing four Protestant denominations. Researchers examined the impact of mental illness in a family on church involvement and spiritual practices. Stanford told Dr. Steve Grcevich in a February 2012 interview that approximately a quarter of the families in the survey are struggling with caring for a loved one with mental illness and it has disrupted their connect with God.

“Sadly, these families appear virtually invisible to the congregation as a whole,” said Stanford, who is a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University.

Colbert’s thoughts echo of the article. She said churches should do more to address the mental and behavioral needs of their congregants, especially in the African American church.

“It is one of the things that has become a cancer, a virus. Now people are doing off-the-wall things. The church is about meeting needs, if your church has people with mental illness, it must be addressed. There are a lot of things outside of the Bible people need to know. The Bible is not against these things because the Bible doesn’t say it, Colbert said.

“I know of people who feel ashamed. They either feel isolated even stop going to church.”

Ready to make a change?

Is your congregation in need of additional sources to help the children and parents who are affected by mental health and behavioral disorders? Church Basement Press, publisher of titles that support the work of faith-based community organizations, recently published “Defying Mental Illness: Finding Recovery with Community Resources and Family Support” ($19.99 paperback and Nook; $7.99 Kindle, USD). The authors – Paul Komarek and Andrea Schroer – provide help on recovery. It is more than a source for support. The book educates readers on several topics, including childhood disorders, mental illness, suicide prevention, and mental illness in layman’s terms. The book is endorsed by a National Alliance on Mental Illness advocate, who said the book “provides what’s needed most.”

Learn more about Church Basement Press at www.churchbasement.net.

Be thankful for what the Lord has done

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) — It’s Thanksgiving again at Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, and only shelter for homeless families.

It’s hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving Day will mark the 27th successive year we have shared the blessing of Thanksgiving with Albuquerque’s many homeless and abused women and homeless families.

I’m so thankful to the Lord and our wonderful family of donors for helping make this ministry of compassion possible on an ongoing basis.

Thanks to YOU, during 2012 we have been able to serve many thousands of hot and nutritious meals to hungry people, minister to many spiritually needy men, women, boys and girls in our chapel services and life recovery classes and provide thousands of nights of shelter to homeless people.

At Joy Junction on Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season as we provide special meals and activities for our homeless guests, we will be giving thanks to the Lord for all of His blessings. We are a faith-based ministry. We believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important component for homeless people in getting back on their feet again.

But not everyone sees things the same way as we do. For many people, “Thanksgiving” is not a time to give thanks to God. Take, for example, these Thanksgiving “offerings” I found some years ago from America on Line, billed as “All the Essentials for a Stress-Free Holiday.”

Encouraged to “sit back and relax,” AOL surfers learned that they could find “advice on roasting a perfect bird, crafts for the kids, ideas for giving back, hints for handling holiday stress, tips for avoiding the travel crush and much more.”

However, if you didn’t go any further than the stress section, you’d have missed a lot. There were a couple of forums on this AOL Thanksgiving special, one titled “Thanksgiving’s Best and Worst,” and another giving surfers the opportunity to say what they were most thankful for.

I was curious to see what people loved and hated about Thanksgiving, so I went over first to Thanksgiving’s best and worst. I got an inside look at what was on the minds of some Americans that year.

Here are some examples of what I read. One forum participant wrote, “Thanksgiving is easily the most boring day of the year.”

Someone else commented, “Every year, my house (which is always neat and tidy) gets ‘trashed,’ even after I’ve told my in laws and their kids repeatedly to respect me and our house. My husband sits by and doesn’t say a word. I can’t turn them away, because they come from out of state and my husband thinks they do no wrong. I’m ready to move to Alaska where I know they’d never visit.”

The saddest post of all was from someone who wrote, “This is my first Thanksgiving without my husband of 25 years. He left me and our five kids (earlier this year) and served me with dissolution papers (soon after).”

However, what a testimony that this woman was still grateful for the blessings that she had. She continued to write “Through this horrible experience, I pray my Thanksgiving is filled with the gratitude and offerings to God that it should be. I am thankful for the gifts I have received, but pray that God’s will is to return my husband to me and our children. I would appreciate any prayers, silent or aloud at your Thanksgiving table for the healing of my family and all other families enduring pain and heart ache.”

Examples of people writing about what they were most thankful for included an inspiring post from someone who doesn’t mind getting older. She wrote, “I used to dread growing older, but now I actually feel as if I can embrace it. When I was younger it was always a case of watching after the kids, stressing over everything always being ‘perfect’, trying to prove myself to everyone but now I have grown to be thankful I had those times … I (also) have many things to look forward to.”

However, the letter that really touched my heart was a daughter’s tribute to her dad. She wrote:

“My father passed away this year. He was a quiet gentleman. I learned much by his words but far more by his actions. He served his country during WWII. He did not speak much about his experiences. Instead he flew our country’s flag proudly, reverently. His eyes welled up with tears when he stood for our national anthem. He stood even to the day he needed my mother on one side and myself on the other. He placed flags on the grave sites of each of my brothers, who also served our country. My father is a genuine patriot; his legacy lives on through all that knew him. I love you daddy, and I’m thankful and proud to be your daughter.”

Some forum participants also remembered the essence of Thanksgiving. Someone wrote, “I am thankful for the Lord for giving me good health and all my children home and in good health and His mercy.” Another person commented, “I am most thankful for allowing Christ to be my guide. I am also thankful for my mental and physical health. I give God all the praise.”

After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is really all about, isn’t it? In case you are not familiar how the day came into existence, here’s a quick synopsis.

It was way back in 1789 that President George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. This was the first ever presidential proclamation issued in the United States and read, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer…”

However even back then, not everyone was in favor of this National Day of Thanksgiving. It took 74 years and President Lincoln to set things straight. In his 1863 proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

After describing America’s blessing, Lincoln wrote, “No human counsel has devised nor has any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Lincoln also encouraged his fellow citizens that while praising the Almighty for his blessings they also needed to exercise “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience … and to fervently implore the (intervention) of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

Since that time, Thanksgiving has been proclaimed by every President. So as we get closer to Thanksgiving Day, take a moment and thank the Lord for the many blessings which we enjoy.