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KEEPING THE FAITH | Some thoughts on hunger and Thanksgiving

Don't cheapen this holy day of gratitude by referring to it as “Turkey Day.” The provision of God extends itself beyond the gathering around the table.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

Our eldest daughter, Ashley, as a young child once remarked, “Daddy, I have an appetite!” 

A gentleman who overheard the father-daughter exchange was impressed by the depth of my daughter’s vocabulary and language development for her age. I took the opportunity to explain to him that our daughter was not allowed to state she was hungry.

In truth, she has never experienced real hunger in her life to ever make such a statement.  

Days prior to her public declaration of having an appetite, she noted that she was hungry. Her mother warmed leftover baked chicken, rice and mixed vegetables for her to eat. Our daughter politely declined the prepared meal citing that was not what she wanted. 

There would not be a special menu offered to satisfy her hankering at the moment. 

I took the time to explain to her the difference between having an appetite or desire, which is not the same as hunger. Her ability to express she did not want the entrée was clearly indicating a situation involving an appetite. People experiencing real true hunger seldom are as discriminating and selective. 

Ashley is now a mother of three and I smile whenever her children express having "an appetite" as well. That does not mean the cravings will be accommodated but rather it is an accurate reflection of the moment. David gave witness in Psalm 37:25: “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” 

Don't cheapen this holy day of gratitude by referring to it as “Turkey Day.” The provision of God extends itself beyond the gathering around the table. Gluttonous behavior and needless consumption should never be celebrated. Although Thanksgiving is recognized as an American holy day, it was birthed out of a deeply abiding appreciation to God for His protection and provision.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 acknowledges God’s response of a righteous appeal emanating from a genuine and sincere heart. There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” 

And God granted him his request.

Zechariah 4:10 admonishes us to embrace and appreciate humble beginnings. Mahoning Valley philanthropist, Eleanor Watanakunakorn, once shared a profound thought she acquired and attributed to her personal journey that encountered detours along the way as words to live by, "Keep your heart free from hate and your mind free from worry. Live simple, expect little and give much!" 

The meager, yet loving upbringing as a child that was forged in tragedy kept her grounded. She remarked that her late husband experienced a similar childhood. With a heart of gratitude, Mrs. Watanakunakorn provided a $1.5 million donation to endow a biomedical research lab in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Youngstown State University in honor of her late husband, Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, the first infectious disease specialist in Youngstown. She also honored her husband’s legacy by establishing the Dr. Chatrchai and Eleanor Watanakunakorn Scholarship at the YSU Foundation. 

Her benevolent and generous spirit moved her to make the largest single donation to the Northeast Ohio Medical University while also creating the Dr. Chatrchai and Eleanor Watanakunakorn Medical Education Fund at Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley. Eleanor donated an additional $1 million to create a new special care nursery on the Akron Children’s Beeghly campus in Boardman in honor of her granddaughter, Alexis Caroline Watanakunakorn.

The late Pastor Andraé Crouch composed an enduring anthem “My Tribute” which attributes the splendor and beauty in our lives to the glory of God. As it has been observed, God uses ordinary people such as Eleanor to complete extraordinary acts. 

Good grief!

Preparing for the holidays can produce stress, yet when personal loss and grief are factors, it can make the season even more of a challenge.  It was hoped last year that the pandemic would be a distant memory as we approach this year’s holiday celebrations.  However, today we are confronting another spike of COVID-19 infections. 

Although grief is something that is experienced often, the festive holidays have a tendency to amplify feelings of loss, especially if it is the first holiday season since the loss. It magnifies everything which has changed for you, especially cherished practices and traditions. 

I speak from personal experiences, the first time trying to celebrate Thanksgiving and December holidays without your loved one in your life can be very conflicting. This may not be a very comforting thought but is shared with the hope you will acknowledge your needs during this holiday!

21 WFMJ-TV Community Connection host Madonna Chism Pinkard recently interviewed Kim Calhoun, a bereavement facilitator for Hospice House and Hospice of the Valley, who shared five practical tips to cope during the holidays with mounting losses.  I encourage you to view the segment in its entirety and consider sharing it with someone you know who is experiencing loss and separation. 

Sharing bountiful blessings  

Calvary Baptist Church, 1463 Shields Road in Boardman, is hosting an annual drive-through Thanksgiving Dinner with fixings for a family of four today from 1-3 p.m.  You can remain in your vehicle as members of the ministry will deliver the items, which include a frozen turkey, while driving through. To obtain additional information, contact the church at 330-792-7873.

Loud 102.3 and its partners want to say “THANK YOU!” during this holiday season. The urban radio station has united with Gleaners Food Bank of Youngstown to provide two hundred families with all of the fixings and desserts you need to complete your Thanksgiving meal for FREE. You provide your own turkey and they will provide the rest of your holiday meal. The distribution will take place Tuesday, in the Covelli Centre parking lot. They will load the items into your car for a contactless pickup.

Annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast

The Mahoning Valley Association of Churches is extending a community invitation for its Mayors’ Interfaith Hybrid Prayer Breakfast 2021 on Tuesday from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. It will be streamed from the Sacred Commons of the Saint  John’s Episcopal Church. You are welcome to join the online gathering WWW.MVACONLINE.ORG which will stream live on Facebook and YouTube. You are encouraged to grab a cup of coffee or tea or glass of juice prior to sip during the gathering.

This annual event brings together mayors, public officials, and other people of faith from throughout the Mahoning Valley for prayer, inspirational messages and musical entertainment. This year’s featured speaker is the Honorable Catherine Cercone Miller, mayor of Struthers. The diverse voices of area faith leaders will offer prayers and special music will be rendered by Jason Volovar, the music director of St. Joseph‘s Parish in Austintown.

The Mahoning Valley Association of Churches is comprised of congregations from the tri-county area.  Collectively, these ministries strive to be a visible witness to Christ's call that His followers would be one. By working cooperatively, in the church and in the community, the association intentionally seeks to advance the realm of God on earth. The values of diversity, racial harmony, justice, and mutual respect are embraced as they promote the power of reconciliation within the Church and beyond by pursuing healthy relationships via ecumenism.

Donations and sponsors are greatly appreciated for this annual major fundraiser. Dr. Tom Sauline serves as the organization’s executive director and he can be contacted at 330-788-5914 or via email at  


Tuesday, Nov. 30 has been designated as GivingTuesday which has become a post- Thanksgiving holiday tradition. Recognized on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, It is an effort to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season.

The idea of GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 with a simple concept as a day that encourages and inspires people to do good. It has evolved into a global movement that motivates people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. Consider being a part of the global generosity movement and celebrate all acts of giving. 

If you are seeking opportunities to give and serve, please do not forget your house of worship! The church has long been recognized as a community hub for philanthropic acts from its origin. Your charitable acts of using the stewardship of time, talent and treasury are vital. Hebrews 6:10 declares: “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for others.” 

Everyone has something to give and every act of generosity counts.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

A reflection for Thanksgiving 2021 can be referenced in Lamentations 3:22-23 which reminds us: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” God’s faithfulness sustains us during every season of our lives. As you gather around the holiday table, remember to offer thanks to God for His faithfulness as you endeavor to keep the faith!  

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and eight grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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