As my family and I bring this Thanksgiving weekend to a close or at least as it slows down. I want to share with myself (as a way to journal) and anyone else who cares… why more than giving thanks I’m thankful for giving…
Backstory (Thanksgiving 2010)
Over the past year my family and some close friends have become aware of the poverty in our community… yes, in our little town we have people who don’t have food. Thanks to some teachers in the Hall County school system we have been able to get a glimpse of what poverty in Hall County looks like. Last Thanksgiving the small group that April and I were part of gathered together and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for about 4 families who wouldn’t have the resources to have a Thanksgiving dinner. We became motivated to do something after reading “Radical” by David Platt and “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. To our surprise it was a challenge to find names of families who were in need. After contacting people through some channels at Chestnut Mountain Church and the Hall County School system, we managed to come up with 4 families. We cooked, delivered, and it was a great experience… but this year took it to a whole new level. Only a few times in my life have I had an experience where I tell myself… “I will never forget what just happened.” Well… this week was one of those times.
Thanksgiving 2011 – The Nudge
A few weeks ago my mom (Debbie Bagwell) sent an email asking my brothers, aunts, uncles, and all cousins to come together for Thanksgiving and cook 2 extra meals on Thursday. The 2 extra meals would be delivered to families who my mom identified had a need for a Thanksgiving meal. Of course, all of us replied with a resounding YES! Sounded like a fun time. But, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and I knew we could do more. There were no plans of repeating what our small group had done last year… I call this moment the Holy Spirit “NUDGE”… It was like “You slacker… you can do better.”
With one simple text message on November 1st to my friend Damon the idea was in motion. I firmly believe the Holy Sprint was nudging more than just me at the same moment. In a matter of a few hours Damon had almost the entire group from last year on board. As I look back at my text messages to Damon, I said, “Can you talk to Tracy about getting 2-3 families?” I would have never guessed what happened… as the weeks grew closer, 20 families have been contacted (all from Lyman Hall Elementary – Hall County, Georgia), those families receive Food in a Backpack from Straight Street Revolution Ministries every Friday. To be honest I’m not sure how this even happened, but we had 16 families confirmed and we were ready to cook! People contacted their family and friends and people came out of the wood work to give cash, turkeys, oil, and food for what quickly became a massive project. We aren’t talking about the perfect 2 adults and 2.5 kids family… we are talking about LARGE families and 16 of them, our best guess is 90-100 people total! Are we CRAZY? What started as a simple 2-3 families became much larger. I’m not sure of the final count but, something like 7 – 8 families were represented on Wednesday to get the cooking started. Many more gave to the project in some capacity. At 8am on Wednesday (Nov. 23rd) the team assembled and we were off and cooking. As the four turkey fryers got fired up… I thought to myself… “Are we really about to do this?”
This all was about to happen because a few people became burdened by the Holy Spirit to show love to people in our community. What is even more surprising is that there was no promotion other than burdened people connecting with people. One of the coolest stories is a co-worker walking up to one of the guys and gave him $10 and said to spend it on whatever was needed. As families talked to families, and people got prepared, people started jumping on board… It was one of those “God” moments where he took control and things happened. It’s a simple concept: When a surrendered heart shares what God is doing people respond.
As I reflect about the process, I’m thankful that Thanksgiving has become more than just giving thanks… for me and my family it’s become about giving thankfully.
Stay tuned as I continue to write about this adventure…