This past weekend was the 44th Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration at ARI. We spent months preparing our committees and entire work of nonstop physical labor to set up our campus to welcome over a thousand visitors who helped us to celebrate this year’s harvest. Although we prayed for no rain, God did send some rain, but on both days the rain ended around noon and we were able to enjoy the afternoon together singing, dancing, eating, playing games and learning about the world.
Every year ARI participants lead the celebration and each year is unique. This year we really felt though that the focus was on our thankful hearts. The week before HTC, each morning gathering speaker challenged us to think about where our hearts were and how we were being thankful for all that God has blessed us with. The preachers both day and many of the performances gave the same message. As we work, serve, pray, worship, eat, live, are we doing it with thankful hearts. Are our words blessing people or hurting them?
We are very thankful for the opportunity to participate in such an international and intentional community. It is a place where so many people come together and are open to listen and learn from one another. Relationships do not become deep very quickly, but slowly we learn to understand and listen to one another and hope begins to be born.
We believe more and more that this is what the world needs more of today. A place to come to and learn about the other. A place where we can all sit down and eat one another’s foods, listen to and celebrate what God has done in our lives. This is what the Kingdom of God must be like, a place where together we give thanks for the bounty of blessing in our lives.
But of course the reason this type of place exists is because it is not normal. The participants who come to us come from places where misunderstanding, hunger, violence and hatred reign. For all of us, the experiences of hardship and fighting are too real. To counter that reality, we train leaders who will serve people as Jesus served, using their hands to grow food, their tongues to mold people, and heir eyes to see communities transformed. We take time at HTC to give thanks for the opportunities and many ways God has blessed us so that our work can become a reality.
What are you thankful for? Is a thankful heart showing through your work, through your hands, through your words.
Please continue to keep us, ARI & Japan in your prayers. Also if you feel led to support our work, you are encouraged to head over to this website and make a donation so that mission work here and around the world can continue.
Jonathan & Satomi
This year’s HTC Logo, Serve God, Nature and Neighbor
This is all an offering from our fields that was processed in and offered at the beginning of our worship service to begin HTC on Saturday.
Jonathan was on the stage committee this year. He also took a turn to MC. Sunday became very nice and we were able to use our outside stage.
Our Friend Takashi does the poi fire dance from New Zealand as Father MacDonald from Malawi gives him a beat to follow.
As Satomi looks on Jonathan and one of the Gospel choir members introduce ourselves at the stage as we begin to give thanks through song for all God has done for us!