Some staff have used Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation as a discussion starter. Each year the U.S. President makes a Thanksgiving proclamation. Just type “presidential proclamation on thanksgiving” into a browser and see if it doesn’t pop up. Sometimes it only appears the day before Thanksgiving. Again, this is a good discussion starter.
Inviting our guests to list things they are thankful for is a fun exercise. If appropriate, you might share how you are thankful to God for his manifold grace experienced in your life. Again, if appropriate, you might ask your guest WHO they are thankful to for help and provision this past year. Follow up with questions to explore their response deeper.
After the meal, there is always time for games and football if that is what your family does. But be sure to ask about the student’s plans after exams are completed. Many students travel and visit friends, but if students are going to be here during the Christmas holidays, there are many opportunities to follow up with more invitations (church Christmas programs, Christmas meals, or just stopping by for some hot cider and desserts).
With all of these activities, I want to remind you that the key is always prayer—before, during, and afterwards. The Lord made it clear that we all need much more enablement than we typically imagine (see John 15:5). After your time with students, you will know much better how to pray for them.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving! The Lord bless you and your family… and your outreach to and prayers for international students!
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson