they came for the turkey, and we gave them The Lamb

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

November 25, 2010

I had to do it.

When I heard what my friends at Harvest Tabernacle were doing for Thanksgiving, I just knew that I had to be a part of it. Every year this church gives away turkeys (and other food items) to hundreds of area families that wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

The doors opened at 6:30, but the line outside started at 1:00. As they waited to come in, we prayed.

As they came in many of us ushered them to their seats. Partially to keep order. Mostly to welcome and love on everyone who walked in the door.

I shook (almost) everyone’s hand. I high-fived the kids, and watched them glow with excitement.

Some were gentle and timid. Others were firm and intentional. Some of their hands were soft like a velvet hug. Others hands were rough like battered rocks that bear the scars of a hard life.

Some of them were homeless, but all of them shared the hunger of someone who has almost nothing. Most looked beaten down…




But they filled the sanctuary and patiently awaited their opportunity to get their free turkey. Everybody would get one.

The worship team played a few songs, and the pastor shared a very brief message.

Even though they came for the turkey…

…many also received The Lamb that night.

“The glory of God, and, as our only means to glorify Him, the salvation of human souls, is the real business of life.”
~ C.S. Lewis

Outside the people of the church readied to give everyone their alloted food items.

As each family would exit, they would be given a box to fill as they walked down the line receiving various groceries.

Volunteers helped the elderly and disabled fill their boxes as they walked through the line.

The men in maroon-colored shirts are from the church’s Harvest House program, a faith-based, residential facility for individuals whose lives have become unmanageable because of homelessness and drug & alcohol addiction.

Three months ago, many of those men were strung-out on dope.

Tonight they’re serving the Lord and helping people who have next to nothing by carrying their box of food and a turkey out to their car.

Teenagers from the youth group had the pleasure of handing each family a turkey.

A powerful experience for many of us who don’t have to worry about what we’re going to eat on such a special day…

As the supply behind the food lines started to run low, and the line still ran long, some of us began to wonder if we would have enough for everyone.

Then Jim informed us that, “there’s always enough.” He recalls a couple of years ago how they ran out of turkeys with about a hundred people left in line, when suddenly a man pulls up with a truck containing 200 turkeys to donate.

It sorta reminds me of the story of the fish and the loaves.

God provides. He always does.

Over 800 families received a turkey and a box full of food. Many of them also became children of God.

And I praise God for the many who served faithfully…


…that day and for many days leading up to the event.

I thank God that all of those kids that I high-fived will get to eat turkey this year for Thanksgiving rather than a cheese sandwich… or in some cases nothing.

I thank God for the opportunity to bless His people. To bless those in need.

I thank God that I will, along with many others, enjoy turkey in the presence of The Lamb!

Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Julie Gillies

    Thanks so much for posting about this, Dan. More churches should do this exact thing. We definitely would have been part of this if we hadn’t traveled to see family for Thanksgiving. Love the pics!

    • @bibledude

      This was such an amazing experience… I’m so glad that I got to be a part of something so special. It’s the kind of work that Christians should be doing, and I’m thankful that there are people in our community that are making it happen like this.

      It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about the people that we served that night…


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they came for the turkey, and we gave them The Lamb

by Dan King time to read: 3 min