2021 has been a challenging year. Like you, we’ve felt the pain of loss, the ache of division in our churches and communities and the harsh realities of ongoing injustice around the world. This Thanksgiving, we may even feel tempted to ask, What’s there to give thanks for?
And yet at World Relief, we’ve found there’s much to be grateful for in 2021. In the midst of the crises and the chaos, God has opened doors, made paths straight and raised up partners who move with us to serve those experiencing vulnerability. We asked 10 of our staff from around the world to share just some of what they’re grateful for this year. We hope their testimonies of God’s faithfulness shining through in 2021 will inspire you to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18), as they have us.
What are you grateful for in 2021?
Karen Crisler, Community Engagement Manager, Appleton, WI: I’m grateful to be in a field of work that is laboring towards restoration; that despite the fractures in all spheres of life, redemption is at work. I’m also grateful that I’m slowly learning that this work doesn’t rest on my shoulders, but rather my daily need is what tethers me to Jesus. I’m so thankful that I got to join the World Relief staff this year!
Clemence Nkulikiyinka, Integral Mission Technical Advisor, Rwanda: I am thankful that God’s grace has sustained us in 2021. World Relief has been able to keep human resources, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. I am grateful for the ability to virtually connect with colleagues and opportunities to visit and support in-person as the world reopens. I am grateful that we have access to vaccines, and that they are reducing the mortality rate.
Matilda Matitha, Country Director, Malawi: I am thankful to God because he continues to protect WR Malawi staff and their families from Covid 19 as we serve vulnerable communities. I am also grateful to God for the opportunity to be part of the great mission in WR Malawi where we are reaching close to 1.9 million people.
Abby Ray, Communications & Advocacy Coordinator, High Point, NC: I’m extremely thankful that God provided a job for me at World Relief. Working for an organization that aligns with my personal mission and values, and working with people who care about me as not only an employee but a neighbor and sister of Christ, is so encouraging. I’m incredibly thankful for all of the people in our office who take such good care of our clients and church partners.
Katie Love, Preferred Communities Program Manager, Baltimore, MD: We are grateful that God has provided through government grants and private donations to meet the needs of thousands of Afghans arriving in America. With these funds, we will be able to support housing and mental health needs, provide one-one-one case management and help pre-literate Afghan women build community and gain access to resources through literacy training.
Andualem Mekonnen, Program Quality Specialist, South Sudan: I am very grateful to God Almighty for keeping me and my family protected from the horrendous COVID-19 pandemic. I am also grateful for the opportunity God has opened for me to serve the marginalized and neglected communities in South Sudan through World Relief.
Bailey Clark, Communications Coordinator, Memphis, TN: We are so grateful for our host families and their incredible hospitality toward refugee families. Hearing their sweet, encouraging stories has been a huge blessing.
Ileana Gómez, CYRUS Support, Nicaragua: I’m thankful for the opportunity to get to know our staff in South Sudan and Kenya while living with and learning from them. Their work is amazing! I saw the commitment of each of them to our vision at World Relief — that was a blessing and is still a blessing. I’m grateful that I could have this wonderful experience, and I thank God that he returned me home safe and sound in 2021.
Megan Ashley, VP of Marketing, Chicago, IL: I’m thankful for the commitment to excellence each member of the World Relief team brings to their work. It seems to be in each person’s DNA to bring our best to those we’re working with and for — even when it can mean extra hours, tough conversations or adapting overnight to an unfolding need somewhere in the world. Whether it’s our best writing, design, client care, policy, program, etc., we’ve been blessed with people who care.
Jeff Walser, Senior Director of Development, Tampa, FL: I am so thankful for the presence of God through his people in my life. It’s been a chaotic year of ups and downs, hopes gained and hopes lost. As I’ve struggled to keep buoyant, God’s people — with steady loving hands, patient words of encouragement and faith-filled prayers — have redirected my gaze to the One who calms the winds and waves and leads us forward into the work he has given us to do.