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A Sri Lanka cornucopia, drawn by Grace, complete with king coconuts, jackfruit, papaya, pumpkin, beets, woodapple, rambudan, avocados, brinjal, pineapple, kohlrabi, leeks, watermelon, banana leaves, mangos and curry leaves.

If you’re like me, you frequently fall into the bad habit of saying “I’m thankful for X, Y and Z.” Around the time of Thanksgiving, you have an opportunity to speak truth to your neighbors in the U.S. So many do not know who God really is. They don’t know who to thank. They don’t know their creator who gave them everything. So, with no one to give thanks to, naturally the celebration of Thanksgiving has morphed into a celebration of “thankfulness.”

So the next time someone tells you what they’re thankful for, ask them who they are thanking. They need to know the identity of the one who has given them everything. They especially need to know that He became a man, that He is the Lord of all and that He is coming one day for judgement, when He will make all things new.

In Sri Lanka too, God’s identity is up for grabs. Who is your creator? Who is the Lord? Is it Allah? Buddha? Vishnu? Shiva? Ganesha? Jesus? Thanksgiving is one of the ways we confess our faith and identify God.

The one leper whom Jesus healed in Luke 17 returned to Jesus to give Him thanks. Who did the other nine thank? Or were they just thankful in general? The one identified His Lord, His savior, Jesus.

Sadly, not everyone who hears the word of God believes. Nine out of ten lepers whom Jesus personally healed didn’t come back. They didn’t believe, at least we aren’t told that they did. That percentage is a reality in many parts of the world, and may be soon in America too.

I pray during this holiday season, that God would give you, our dear partners in Christ’s mission, opportunities to show others who He is not only by your thanksgiving, but also by your faith in Him, your hope, and especially your love.

We know and we give thanks to God that out of your faith in the Lord, and in thanksgiving for His blessings, you are supporting us for His mission in Sri Lanka. Especially on this day, our hearts are warm as we think of all of you, our dear family in Christ. We sorely miss being with you, but we feel so privileged to be serving here on your behalf.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!Psalm 67:1–3

Vicar Benjamin and Grace Vanderhyde serve the Lord through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) as missionaries in Sri Lanka. In his role as vicar, Benjamin trains up musicians to serve the Ceylon Evangelical Lutheran Church while assisting the other LCMS missionaries serving in Sri Lanka with their work and learning from them. You can read more about the Vanderhydes at