A LAOTIAN THANKSGIVING
Psa. 96:1-4 ¶ Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!
Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
It was Thanksgiving 1976, Parris and I were part of a ministry, church planting team in Phoenix, Arizona. We had been doing door to door evangelism for several months and had started a weekly meeting with some Laotians who had just been placed in Phoenix after the Vietnam war. We loved these weekly opportunities to preach Christ to these precious people. They were desperate, and hungry for something real. Weekly they would pack the living room of one of their homes with family and friends as I preached Christ to them with an interpreter. It was refreshing for me to minister to people who were hungry for God and push beyond the culture and language barrier to receive something from the Lord. I loved those weekly services. When Thanksgiving came that year we threw a big Thanksgiving feast at our house for all of our new Asian friends. It was fun to watch their faces as they looked at our strange feast. They had never had turkey and dressing, they were really being stretched by our foreign customs.
That year, I learned something wonderful that about Thanksgiving and our Christian culture. I had always taken so many things for granted. These Laotians had actually been officers in the Laotian army and had escaped when their nation fell to the communists. They had lost everything and were having to make a brand new start. They had never experienced the freedoms we have taken for granted that have been given to us as a Christian heritage from our forefathers. We are blessed and have much to be thankful for in our nation.
Our country was birthed by people in search of religious freedom. Many of those early Americans had been born again and were refugees from their countries. Like Abraham, they were pilgrims and strangers looking for another city. As a matter of fact, they called themselves Pilgrims. They were looking for the city of God. Our country was the first nation founded by Christians as a place of refuge for other pilgrims and strangers. Oh how the times have changed!
Just as those Laotians had been thrown out of their homeland, our forefathers were outcastes as well. The Lord honored their faith and our nation was born, one nation under God. This Thanksgiving I want to be thankful. I want to remember how the Lord has blessed us. I want to see the Lord restore our land once again.