One of Raju Samuel’s favorite Bible verses comes from Psalm 95. It speaks of thanksgiving. Next week, Samuel will help host his mission’s 12th-annual, community Thanksgiving dinners with one in Galveston and another in Texas City.
“It’s that time again for us to have our annual Thanksgiving lunches for the homeless and the needy families here,” he said. “I am so proud to be a part of a great nation that separates a special day to give thanks to our creator for all his blessings.”
The country that the soft-spoken Samuel gives thanks for is his adopted home. He was born in India and still ministers there on a regular basis.
“We don’t have a special, designated Thanksgiving day in India,” he said. “So this is a special time of the year for me.”
Samuel said that local needs have grown and donations have not quite kept pace.
Mission Galveston serves the homeless, and Mission Texas City supports those with low incomes. Both are nonprofit organizations with unpaid staffs, completely dependent on donations from churches and individuals for both the dinners and their year-round work.
“We need your help,” he said. “For the last two years, gifts have gone down tremendously. People can help in many ways, including tax-deductible financial donations, canned goods, toiletries, clothes and blankets for our continuing ministry.”
The yearly dinners are popular. Last year more than 150 attended the Texas City meal, and some 430 came to the Galveston event.
Volunteer Laurie Maxson has been supporting the dinners for eight years.
“I’ve seen people who have been here and through this ministry they have come up and actually moved into their own apartments and begin living on their own,” she said of the ministry. “We have people come back and tell us how this ministry changed their life away from drugs and alcohol and got them back on the road toward God.”
She said that the dinners represent more than just food for those who come. She and other volunteers serve as waiters, making all feel welcome, safe and respected.
“It’s more than food — their spirit is fed first,” she said. “They leave with a sense of peace and comfort.”
Samuel plans to continue to host the dinners annually.
“One reason we hold this communitywide Thanksgiving meal is to invite people who have no families or loved ones to come to join us in our Thanksgiving celebration of worship and fellowship,” he said.
Rick Cousins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.