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20 Reasons to Give Thanks in 2020

It’s Thanksgiving week. The time has come when we would normally gather with family and friends, celebrate the start of the holiday season and reflect on the things we’re grateful for. This year, those celebrations won’t be possible for many of us, and the practice of gratitude likely feels especially difficult. Many of us are simply yearning for an end to 2020. Yet it’s during times like these that it’s more important than ever to count our blessings and find joy and gratitude amidst the chaos. In doing so, you may find there’s still much to be thankful for in 2020. 

We asked 20 of our staff and partners around the world to share just some of what they’re grateful for this year and how they’ve seen God’s faithfulness shine through in 2020. We hope their responses encourage you, as they have us. 

What are you grateful for in 2020?

Cesalie Nicimpaye, Country Director, Burundi:  I give thanks that God has been so faithful during the uncertain days of COVID-19, followed by the Burundian presidential election and the death of our president. Our strength in the Lord was renewed and we were able to lean on his promises. God spoke to us in different ways and kept us safe.

Jamie Berry, Foundations Manager, Cascade, CO: 2020 was a year of refining. It was so hard on so many levels, but when things were dark, hard and hopeless, we saw God show up the most in brilliant ways. We remember those moments of joy and faithfulness because they stand out so bright in such dark times.

James Misner, SVP of Partnerships, Baltimore, MD: God moved us further apart than ever before (physically), only to make us closer than we could have envisioned. He provided for us when we thought there was not a way, and gave us hope, energy and inspiration to keep going. For that, I will forever be thankful.

Elias Kamau, Country Director, Kenya: We are so grateful and so encouraged by the faithfulness of God! In 2020, we doubled our country programming and launched a new Church Empowerment Zone. 

Charles Franzén, Baltimore, MD: I’m grateful that our humanitarian country programs remain strong and even expanding with steadfast country leadership. We are convicted that although times are now tough, God is in control and will show the way so that we continue to serve those in greatest need wherever we work.

CityWell Church, Church Partner, Durham, NC: We are so grateful to be in partnership with World Relief Durham and for the important work they do in our community and for each one of God’s children. Through our partnership [in 2020], we’ve been able to offer meals and financial assistance to families, even in the midst of this global pandemic.

Moses Ndahiro, Country Director, Rwanda: Looking back at 2020, one thing that comes to mind is God’s faithfulness. It has been a difficult season, but God provided not only the financial resources we needed to serve the most vulnerable but he also protected our staff. No one up to now has died because of COVID-19 or accidents.

Bethany Seremet, Director of Partnership Engagement, Baltimore, MD: I saw the Holy Spirit dump buckets of color and creativity on the old ways of thinking and doing and beautifully declare – See, I am doing a new thing!

Adula Gemta, Country Director, Sudan: I am thankful that we were given the opportunity to bring hope to the hopeless and demonstrate Christ’s love across Sudan in 2020.

Nathan Riedy, Director of U.S. Programs Fundraising, York, PA: I’m grateful that in 2020 God made sure that World Relief would continue to be a light for refugees and immigrants in the U.S., despite almost every force working against it. 

Ric Hamic, Former Country Director, South Sudan: I am so thankful for our incredible staff in 2020, many who sacrificed their leaves to continue providing lifesaving services and to scale up for COVID-19 in an incredibly difficult environment. 

Jeff Walser, Director of Partnerships, Tampa, FL: The world was shaken and we were left with what cannot be shaken. Our faithful God worked in mysterious ways. Through shadows and uncertainty, He was faithful and creative. And he dazzled us with his bright designs.

Karyn Bryant, Changemakers Lead, Sacramento, CA: In 2020, many of us finally woke up in a new way to the injustices and vulnerabilities of both ourselves and our world. It was needed, and for that I am grateful.

Jean Nyandwi, Country Director, DRC: Despite the challenges of COVID-19, I’m so grateful that in 2020 we were able to bring God’s love to a new group of socially outcast members of society, the Pygmies, in the remote villages of Ituri, Tanganyika, and North Kivu Provinces.

Selina Máté, Volunteer, Durham, NC: I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch [my mentee] graduate high school, begin her first job and start college this year. It’s been nothing but a blessing, and I am so thankful to have spent the last year mentoring her while she begins to navigate adult life.

Tim Breene, CEO, Boston, MA: I’m thankful that the last year has shown us once again the wisdom of placing our trust in God; it has shown us that disruption can be a spur to creativity and that God’s solutions are often different and bigger than anything we could put in a business plan.

Gibson Nkanaunena, Country Director, Malawi: We celebrate and give thanks that through faith, courage, persistence and resilience, we were able to serve over 1.9 million most vulnerable people across 13 districts of Malawi in the midst of an unprecedented and deadly COVID 19 pandemic.

Bryan Wilkerson, Church Partner, Lexington MA: My congregation and I are so grateful that through World Relief, we’ve been able to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, serving the most vulnerable.

Lance Morgan, Donor, Waukesha, WI: I am so thankful that even in a year of so much upheaval, I have been able to use my gifts and my resources to bless other people. I just feel so humbled that God would use me to help and bless others, and I’m thankful for that.

Heidi Guttschuss, Education Manager, Sacramento, CA: I’m especially grateful for the incredibly creative staff I work with at World Relief, coworkers who are encouraging and keep coming up with new ideas to help us all thrive, and supportive leaders who do an amazing job guiding us through unknown territory

Francesca Albano currently serves as Director of Branded Content at World Relief. With a background in Cultural Anthropology and a graduate degree in Strategic Marketing Communications, she connects her interests in societal studies and global cultures with her training in brand strategy and storytelling. Francesca is especially passionate about grassroots community development and the treatment and advancement of women and girls around the world.

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