Thanksgiving Dinner

This Thanksgiving Day, give the gift of love. Thanksgiving is one of the most fulfilling days of the year for my family. During my years as a Cell Group leader at Victory Fellowship Church, I discovered the art of giving with love. Each Tuesday, group leaders met at the church to prepare for Wednesday’s Cell Group meeting. Group leaders hosted group meetings in their homes.

We began each meeting with praise and worship, followed by a time of prayer. Then I would teach from an outline of the Pastor’s past Sunday’s sermon. At the end of each meeting, we shared the goodness of God.

There is one Thanksgiving holiday in particular that I will always remember. At the time, I lived in Metairie, Louisiana, about nine miles from downtown New Orleans. Because it was Thanksgiving week, Cell Group meetings were canceled. However, group leaders picked up meal boxes at Tuesday’s leadership meeting. We were to distribute them to needy families before Thanksgiving Day. The average meal consisted of a large turkey, and all the trimmings to prepare a really great holiday dinner.

Wednesday evening around 5 pm, I loaded the boxed dinned into my car. I did not know, nor did I think about who needed the meal. I trusted God to lead me to the right family. So I prayed while I drove, not knowing where the Holy Spirit would lead me.

After two hours of driving, I ended up in the small town of New Sarpy, in Saint Charles Parish. Still praying, I continued to drive down this long road for about 3 miles. It was almost 7 pm and it was getting dark. I drove across a set of railroad tracks when the Holy Spirit prompted me to turn left and drive alongside the tracks. I drove for another seven or eight blocks before the Holy Spirit again prompted me to turn right.

Because the street was narrow and there was a drainage ditch on either side of the street, I drove very slowly and carefully. All of the houses on the street appeared to be very old and run down. Some were wooden framed houses; others were trailer homes.

I drove past this one trailer home and I thought I saw a television through the walls. So, I backed up to get a second look, and sure enough, it was a television and I could see it through the walls of this home from inside my car on the street.

I perceived in my heart that I had arrived at the place God was leading me to. So, I parked on the side of this narrow street, hopped across the ditch, and walked to the trailer. When I knocked on the door an elderly lady opened the door. She looked to be about sixty-five years old.

“Yes, can I help you?” she asked in a very soft and polite tone.

“Ma’am, I would like to ask you a question if I may. What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?”

She paused and looked at me for about thirty seconds. She had a face cloth in her hand and she appeared to have a cataract or some kind of white film covering her left eye. Wiping her eye with the facecloth, she softly answered.

“Wait here, I will go get it and show you what we’re having for dinner.”

She returned to the door with a saucer in her left hand and an unopened pack of saltine crackers in the other. On the saucer, there was a three-inch-thick slice of bologna. “This is what I am going to eat with my son for Thanksgiving,” she said. “We goin’ thank the Lord and enjoy this piece of bologna.”

I asked, “Where is your son?”

She answered, “He went out to collect some cans to buy some lemonade, he ought to be back any minute.”

My eyes were filling with tears when I saw what she would eat for Thanksgiving. I did not want her to see me cry, so I said, “I have something in my car for you. I will be right back”

Unable to hold back my tears, I cried as I walked to the car to get the box. I thanked God for leading me to this lady. I perceived that she had trusted God to provide her meal, and I was the vehicle that God used to deliver the meal. As I was returning from the car, her son came home. He appeared to be about forty years old. He looked a bit challenged.

As I approached the house, I said, “You don’t have to worry about dinner tomorrow. The Lord told me to give you this box. “When I sat the box inside the door, she immediately opened it. Both she and her son began jumping, crying, and shouting, “Look at God, look at God! Ain’t He good. God is so good!” Then they looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, “God bless you, mister.”

I cried, but they cried uncontrollably. I wanted to pray with them, but they were so overjoyed they never saw me leave. It gave me so much joy knowing that God had used me to bless this family and give them a reason to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

During this Thanksgiving holiday season, please take a moment to think about a family less fortunate than yours. If you are unable to give, pray that God will give you how you can bless a family with a gift of love. God is our Provider and He will provide. Nothing can compare with the heartfelt celebration of giving.

Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you and your family and shower you with abundance and love.

By Eric Dunbar

Once addicted to crack cocaine, my story is not unique but inspiring. I have been a professor of faith for most of my life. Before you inquire about my credentials, let me explain. I don’t mean professor as in “teacher” but professor as in “squatter.” For most of my life, I have been trying to occupy what I had never fully possessed, namely, faith. You see, my trust was in God long before I used drugs. To this day, I cannot tell you what happened to cause me to be addicted; it just happened. After a lifetime of serving God, somehow, I became a crack cocaine addict. I grew up in the church. I was born with talent. I started playing the organ for local churches at the age of eight years. I cultivated strong confidence in God early in life. From the time I was five until I was eighteen years old, I can’t remember ever missing a church service. I started playing keyboards in a popular R&B band at the age of nineteen years old. Midlife When you’re young, life is all about having fun, and I was indeed having a lot of fun. Playing in an R&B band exposed me to the rigors of nightlife, leading me to deviate from the church. I started experimenting with all kinds of drugs. At first, it was marijuana, then pills, and soon, I was using cocaine. All the while, I still attended church, although not as often. When I was married, my infrequent music revenue was inadequate to raise a family. So I left the band and found a job. I have always had confidence in God, but I didn’t know how to implement my faith. When my first child was born, I renewed my faith and got heavily involved in the church. A few years later, my pastor inspired me to begin a cell ministry in my home, where I faithfully worshipped God and held Bible studies every Tuesday. About seven years into my marriage, I slipped back into drug use. This time cocaine was my choice drug. Soon after, I learned to cook cocaine, converting it into a rocky substance called crack. That was the beginning of a life of trouble. I had become a slave to the drug; crack cocaine was now my master. Confident Expectation My wife threatened to leave if I didn’t control my addiction. Nevertheless, I remained confident that God would deliver me. But my wife insisted that I seek help. I wanted to save my marriage, so I enrolled in the Narcotics Anonymous Twelve Step Program. I completed the required thirty-day classes, and I went home drug-free. Fifteen days later, I was once again smoking crack. My crack smoking eventually led to my wife divorcing me. I lost my family, possessions, and everything dear to me. Life had become challenging, and I was near depression. My parents taught me that faith believes, so I understood the principle of faith. I had faith that God would liberate me, so I continued to pray that God would soon rescue me from this evil that had come upon me. One day I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell on this scripture: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “I don’t go to church anymore,” I said to myself, so how can I hear the word of God? Then I thought to read the word aloud to myself. The Bible was now my best friend. I read the word to myself. The word of God came out of my mouth and went back into my ears. Alas, I was hearing the word of God. I still craved crack cocaine and got high whenever the opportunity presented itself. But for the next two years, I mostly stayed to myself, reading the Bible aloud, quoting scriptures, and praying. Believing Faith Speaks After two years of practically being alone with God, my craving for crack cocaine was gone. My confidence in God rewarded me with freedom. I learned that believing faith speaks. No longer did I profess faith, but I now possessed it. Faith is having confidence in the things we hope for. Although they are not visible to our physical eyes, we believe that God is working our hope into physical existence. It is the bridge linking us to the spiritual realm and makes God a touchable reality. When we trust God, it guarantees that God’s promises and Biblical revelations are true. We cannot detect these revelations and promises of the word of God with our physical senses. However, by trusting God, we have the confidence that our expectation will come to pass. Faith is the quintessence that the things we hope for become so concrete that even belief itself becomes a definitive reality of those things that are not yet visible. Your faith becomes so tangible that you believe you possess those things in the spiritual realm.

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