Thanks Giving…Giving Thanks (Joanne Solis-Walker)


Growing up in a Hispanic church, we had Thanksgiving services and most of the testimonies started with Doy gracias a Dios por la salvación y el perdón de mis pecados. También por proveer el techo de donde vivimos, la comida y todo lo demás que tenemos y por todas las cosas que hemos pasado solo con la ayuda de Dios. [I thank God for salvation and the forgiveness of my sin. Also thank him for the roof over our heads, the food we eat and everything else we have and all the things He’s brought me through.] Really sweet memories!

Across the board, this is the time of the year where we are more prone to pause and give thanks to God for all of the blessings we’ve received. There are various lists going around on Facebook. For every day in November the person posts a different reason why they are thankful. These list include the mention of a spouse, children, family, friends, school, church, and the names of specific people who in some form or fashion are of influence.

I have my own list for Seminario Wesley and it would follow a very typical format. I’m grateful for:

  • That I know Jesus and that I know that Jesus loves me.
  • My husband, daughter, family, friends and my church who support the work I do at the seminary and extend grace more times than I care to confess.

I am thankful for the amazing body of students I journey with who contribute in so many ways to a rich learning experience. Talk about diversity! Have you had the opportunity to be under the same roof with Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Dominicanos, Panameños, Guatemalan, Ticos, Venezolanos, Salvadorans to just mention a few? Think about that experience when they gather together under one roof for residency. It’s a lot of fun!

  • We are getting close to being 10% of the Wesley Seminary student body.

I am also thankful for our adjunct professors, who also come from diverse Hispanic backgrounds. They give sacrificially and missionally to serve our student body. We have a 96% rate of adjunct retention, which is way above the norm for most seminaries and we are very grateful!

  • 100% of our adjuncts either have a Ph.D, D.Min or they are currently enrolled in a doctoral program. They serve BOTH the academy and the church! This is a real blessing.

The list goes on and on and on…Luigi has served above and beyond the call to help us re-launch our primary online courses…the leadership…nuestro equipo de trabajo…the seminary team…faculty retreat…the making of the calendars…Florida work retreat…Hispanic Heritage Month…iMET…ADAPE…fundraising…lots to be thankful for.

This exercise led me to thinking about the specific times Jesus gave thanks! Did you know His thanks giving revolved around three difficult scenarios?

  • In Matthew 15:35-37 Jesus shares a blessing over the loaves of bread and fish and thanks God for the food.
  • In Luke 22:14-20, He thanks God for the crucifixion through the blessing of the wine and the bread during the Last Supper.
  • In John 11:39, He thanks God who heard and answered His prayer, and as a result Lazarus was healed.

None of these were easy times. It was going to take a miracle to feed the multitude. The disciples had a good reason to be in panic mode.

In Luke, this was literally the last supper Jesus would have before the crucifixion. He knew He was going to die. That’s tough!

And then there is Lazarus who is dead. This was a very tragic moment.

As you will notice from my list and those published through social media, they remain upbeat. But we know there are many, many challenges we’ve experienced that may not make the public Thanks Giving list but that merit quiet moments with God to thank Him for hearing the prayers and responding. What’s on your upbeat list and what are those things in your life that had it not been for God…well…

So maybe our Spanish thanks giving testimony time started off with a combination of the very same things each time someone shared. Nevertheless, my Hispanic church family just about follows what Jesus modeled. Thank you Jesus for the cross, for hearing our prayers and for providing for all of our needs. Happy Thanksgiving!

Added Bonus: One of my faves during this season: