Not every country celebrates Thanksgiving Day, and some countries celebrate on a day other than the American national holiday of the fourth Thursday in November. I found that I appreciate the holiday even more when I am in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving. There is a hollow feeling inside. The believer wants to give thanks to God.
In 1999, my family was serving Christ abroad in the country of Cyprus. Since that nation did not have a national Thanksgiving holiday in November, I took the fourth Thursday off from the ministry office to spend with my family. It was our family tradition.
It turns out that on the day I had taken off from work, I needed to attend to a red-tape detail at the Customs Office in Nicosia, Cyprus. The customs clearance on our vehicle had lapsed, and I was staring at a hefty fine! At that time, the records in Cyprus were not computerized. So, I trudged wearily back and forth between various offices trying to resolve the issue. The delay was not due to corruption, just slow processing. Eventually I was able to resolve the issue and join my family, belatedly, to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
As a Muslim-background believer in Christ, I am especially thankful to Christ on Thanksgiving. I don’t think of it so much as an American, Canadian, Cypriot, or Iranian celebration. More than that, it is a time to rejoice over what Christ has done on the Cross.
Muslims are taught to believe that people should accumulate good deeds. When this life is over, there will be a Judgment Day. If one’s good deeds outweigh one’s bad deeds, then the Muslim believer hopes he or she will eventually enter paradise. It depends both on the mercy of Allah and the good deeds of the Muslim.
When I came to Christ many years ago, I discovered that God does not bid us to enter paradise based on our good deeds. Rather, Jesus’ work on the Cross opened heaven’s door to us. Jesus’ blood paid for our sins and restored us to relationship with the Heavenly Father. As a Muslim background Christian, I am truly thankful to the Lord for what He has done. It is not a vague forgiveness, but one based on a real relationship with God. And God has blessed us with friends, family, and abundant provision. And I am thankful for all those who are praying for and sharing the gospel with Muslims.
Thank you, Jesus!