It goes without saying that much has changed since last Thanksgiving. The year 2020 has not been easy, to say the least. Most of us have experienced loss at some level, some of us at unimaginable levels. Many of us are feeling tired, and anxious, and hopeless.

As we enter a season of holiday celebration that looks so different than ever before, it can be easy to feel like we are alone, like things will never be right again.

However, that simply is not the case. Working with ASP this year has reminded me that we all belong to each other– which means that we’re never truly alone. In God’s Kingdom, when one of us hurts, we all hurt. And when one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. That means that we are all in this work together, regardless of what role we take. In 1 Corinthians 12:27, Paul writes, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

In the body of Christ, each one of us has a part to play, but never are we meant to do this on our own. I learned this lesson a couple months back from a volunteer named Gail, who has been serving with ASP for 38 years– yep, you read that right! Rather than keep this work to herself, Gail has also brought her children and grandchildren along with her throughout the years. Gail says that they all know they are expected to make a trip to Central Appalachia at least once. She coordinates groups of volunteers among several churches in her home state of Michigan and shows them the ropes once on site. Gail is passionate about serving her neighbor in this way, and rather than do it alone, she shares this vision with everyone she meets.

And selfless love never stops with just one person. It spreads, and can transform entire communities.

Jessica, an ASP homeowner served in the past, writes that after volunteers helped repair her home, she even began to see a change in her children.

“They have started giving to others for no reason. They see the power in prayer, the power of what love from others can do. Thank you, ASP staff, and everyone that touched my life, my heart, and my family. I will never be able to give you back the lesson that you taught us. What I will do is pass on this love.”

As Jessica and her kids join in the work of passing on this sort of selfless love in their own ways, the people around them will be transformed, as well.

So, this Thanksgiving, how might you be called to join in the work of bringing peace through selfless love? Maybe it’s signing up to safely volunteer your time and your skills. Maybe it’s making a donation. Maybe it’s committing to pray for and get to know people who may look and live differently than you. Maybe it’s choosing to listen to and love someone who you would consider your enemy.

This Thanksgiving, may you know that you are loved, and never alone. And may you get to work helping others know that truth, as well.

By Jordyn Morel, Advancement Fellow