They’re the first words we learn, wherever we happen to be travelling in the world. Hello, and thank you. Sometimes, it’s all we’ve got. All we need.
Our work takes us to places where we might expect only suffering and hopelessness, and yet what we meet time and again is gratitude. Gratitude from people who are thankful beyond belief for opportunities they never thought they’d be given; a chance to study their way out of hunger; a toilet built with their own hands.
“Please tell them thank you – thank you for helping us, even though they don’t know who we are.”
The words are spoken with a kind of holy wonder. These are families who look after one another with a fierce love, but the idea that people in countries far away know and love them too is another thing altogether.
For us, gratitude leaps the banks and spills both ways. A smiling mother cooks us corn from her garden and we sit to eat with her husband, father and five children. Later, we find out she has gifted us everything she had to feed her family for the week. Tears in his eyes, a Pastor shares a story of the love that led him back to care for his church, even after feeling a loaded gun against his temple. A child slips her hand into ours and sticks close, her smile a mile-wide. She has never seen anyone with skin like ours before. In these moments, we’re not the powerful dispensers of donations and resources and knowledge. We’re just sharing the goodness of what it is to be alive; the grace of life in all its messiness and small mercies.
“In all things, give thanks.” Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica have as much relevance today as they did two thousand years ago. Gratitude transforms our daily lives as we concentrate on all that is good and gifted rather than all that wearies us and wears us down.
To each of you, we give our thanks.
In the past 12 months together, we have reached hundreds of thousands of people with the practical love of Christ, providing:
- Training to leaders of God’s church
- Clean water and education to save lives
- Loans to start small business
- Emergency shelter, counselling and respite in disaster
Thank you for your love and prayers. We remain grateful for the faith that binds us together as we continue to work towards the world we all long for.
In hope and peace,