Thanksgiving Party With a Purpose

by Marlene LeFever

This hospitality idea is not just intended to encourage a group of friends to have a dandy time together. Instead, it is designed to meet at least one of the following objectives:

To give Christians a tool to reach out to our unbelieving friends and neighbors, to open the possibility of Jesus Christ to them through a planned hospitality event in our home or church.

To grow friendships among church people through a hospitality event in our home or the church, building up the family of God.

Objective: Singles, small families, and foreign families without Thanksgiving traditions will combine resources at a Thanksgiving meal. Together everyone will praise God for His bounty this year.

Basic Idea: Everyone will provide one dish to add to the thanksgiving meal; the host family will supply the turkey. Combining resources will cut the cost.

My husband, Jack, and I decided to go through the church directory and invite all the singles, foreign families, and small families. We figured nearly everyone would have places to go already, so we could safely invite as many as we wanted to.

We were flabbergasted when the calls began to arrive.

"Thanks so much," a woman from Australia said. "We'll all come. We were wondering how Americans did this holiday, but we never thought we'd be able to find out."

"I'll be there with the kids," another woman said. "I didn't have money for the trip to my folks' place in Georgia. It's great to have something special to do close to home."

A guy announced that he'd bring real mashed potatoes. "I was feeling a little family-less," he said.

This Thanksgiving party is the only one we've had where I have no idea how many people actually showed up. It was in the neighborhood of sixty, give or take a dozen kids. When the crowd filled our place, Diana, the neighbor across the hall, opened her doors for the overflow. Then the lady upstairs opened her place. Thank goodness we lived in an apartment building! A house would never have been big enough.

Some of our neighbors were older women who were spending the holidays with their children. When they heard about our enormous party, four people offered their door keys and ovens, even though they wouldn't be able to attend.

After a thanksgiving choral reading (we had contacted a few friends beforehand, and they were ready with short personal testimonies), then we ate! There was more than enough for all. Jack had made two turkeys and their total forty pounds was perfect. Actually, with all the great things others brought, I don't think anyone would have minded if we had run out of turkey.

Don't skip a little Thanksgiving program to head immediately for the turkey. For four years, I planned a Thanksgiving in September for a group of Christians from deveoloping nations who were in the States for training. The first year, I figured I'd be busy with the food, so I suggested a friend handle the Thanksgiving-specific stuff. She prayed and thanked God for the food. For the foreign guests, the meal was just a big American spread. They never heard about its history or significance. The next three years, I gave the food to friends to prepare and I handled the program. Thanksgiving is a concept I'd like to share with friends around the world.