During the recent Kentucky WMU Executive Board meeting we had many reasons to give thanks, including the presence of Tina Nicely who has undergone treatment for lung cancer this year. Tina led our missionary prayer time on Friday morning and shared her testimony of thanksgiving.
Her testimony was not about being healed, though she has been. Her testimony was one of thanksgving for having been sent as a missionary to the cancer treatment center. It blessed me when Tina shared that while she was disappointed that she had not been able to participate on our WMU team to Puerto Rico earlier this year due to the cancer treatments, she was thankful that God used her to minister to the people she met during treatment. People need hope, and what a testimony for Tina to give thanks for cancer so that she could be in the midst of people without hope.
Then today I read an article in the October Missions Mosaic that was another reminder of God at work in the midst of difficult circumstances. The story is about James Knottel, an 18-year old student from Lawton, Oklahoma, who had participated in a World Changers trip. James, who is deaf, was uneasy about the trip and how he could fit in. He almost went home, but was persuaded to stay. On day two he met the homeowner of the house where the World Changers team was working. His uneasiness turned to joy when he discovered that Lisa Jungheim, the homeowner, was also deaf. James went from being unable to communicate well to being the only student who could effectively interact with the family.
The World Changers experience not only taught James how to paint a house and replace a window, but most importantly, he learned that God could use his situation to help others. Through the World Changers experience, James felt called to missions. He was impacted by a map of the world showing places where the gospel has yet to take root and said “I can’t use my deafness as an excuse to sit at home.”
Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I like to call this a “Be-Attitude.” And if we truly believe Romans 8:28, that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose, the Be-Attitude of joyfulness in hope is proof that we believe the other verse.
May we focus on giving thanks throughout November. Don’t skip Thanksgiving. Sometimes the materialism around us, with Christmas decorations next to Halloween costumes, causes us to miss the significance of Thanksgiving. John Grisham wrote a novel about skipping Christmas but way too many of us are skipping Thanksgiving. If Tina and James can give thanks and see God at work, none of us have an excuse.
And while you are at it, hum the song by Henry Smith, “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.”