Profiles HCOG/LPC: Giving Thanks with a Grateful Heart – Thanksgiving 1992

In light of the events of the weekend, specifically the egg hunt, I wanted to write about a massive event rather than a person, that was held on the church property following hurricane Andrew. Instead, I asked my dad to write about the event since he planned and executed: Giving Thanks With a Grateful Heart – Thanksgiving in Homestead 1992. Christmas in Homestead 1992 was equally as big, maybe bigger. But the Thanksgiving event was just amazing.

-By JT Johnson

Giving Thanks With A Grateful Heart(GTWAGH) was another in a long list of illustrious events in the storied history of Life-Pointe Church/HCOG that brought thousands of people together in one place. We announced that 10,000 hot turkey dinners would be served to any and all comers.

That was a real step of courage since Homestead had been dubbed “Bumstead” in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Squatting along the canals or in damaged abandoned buildings were thousands of homeless job seekers/opportunists in search of a fast buck, a government handout or free meals; they would be glad to have a Turkey Dinner on Thanksgiving. We were glad to serve them, too, but we were really just trying to remind our town to be thankful to The Lord for the really important stuff–our families and our lives. Our housing could be replaced.

We had it all lined up, we thought. TBN purchased the turkeys, a local trucking company provided a refrigerated semi tractor-trailer to keep the food cold and CBN’s Operation Blessing donated thousands of bibles. Bill Bailey, brother of the OJ trial lawyer F. Lee Bailey, raised and donated thousands of dollars for this event and another one at Christmas time. We had all the food, T-shirts, shelter and paper goods/plates we needed. Funding providentially came in many sources. We had plenty of volunteers lined when one hundred twenty-five students/ teachers from West Virginia University heard about it the week before and asked if they could help.

Everything was just perfect until two days before Thanksgiving. Press releases went out to every major news outlet and calls were coming in from the press.

Then our volunteer cook welched on us and I was up the proverbial creek with no means of propulsion. I wanted to resign. Self-destruction seemed for a moment or two somewhat more pleasant than no cook.

Hungry Harry
, Official caterer for the NFL Tampa Bay Bucs and personal friend of Bucs’ owner Hugh Culverhouse, got a call from me about 10 pm two days before Thanksgiving asking him to cook for us. He dropped what he was doing for three days and bailed us out. Whewww!! Life was sweet.

GTWAGH was a success amidst the ruins of our roofless sanctuary, unrepaired as yet. We were on the front page of our local paper, the Miami Herald did a multi-page article and USA Today included a picture with a brief mention of our church. AP news wires carried the story of the church with no roof serving South Florida 10,000 hot Turkey Dinners and a few days later the Hurricane Insurance Information Center sent me a copy of an article about it from the Sacramento Bee.

A few days later the foundation started by President George H. W. Bush, “Points of Light” and the charitable “Sears Foundation” awarded me the Hurricane Hero Award for conspicuous service to the survivors of Andrew. I didn’t feel like a hero. Harry was the hero. I was just doing what God gave me opportunity to do. Besides Anne and Phillip were right there with me all the way and they deserved it if anyone did.

I remember the crowds of people gathering, the slosh under foot from grass and dirt being walked on until it became mud, and the tents where the food was being prepared and served.  That was a crazy time and it was so much work.  The egg hunt actually gave me a couple of flashbacks to the Giving Thanks event, and the Christmas in Homestead.  Not everyone has the opportunity to go through one of those events, but it is a character shaping time.


Filed under church, life pointe

6 responses to “Profiles HCOG/LPC: Giving Thanks with a Grateful Heart – Thanksgiving 1992

  1. That’s awesome. I still have an t-shirt from the event somewhere.

  2. Ela

    What a story I never knew that. J.T. you are an awasome man of GOD in my eyes. Did you feed all 10,000 or more?
    We were not living down here when Andrew we lived up in Kendall and it was bad not as bad as down here. I’m going to read every article, this is truly amazing.

    Love ya,

  3. Jo Sullivan

    I remember Mother telling me stories about that Thanksgiving, I remember wishing I could go and help and not being able too. I remember a sermon J.T. preached on Mercy vs Justice that came out of that time… something about an out of town police officer and a ticket for not having a correct liscence plate… Good sermon.

  4. Pingback: Profiles LPC/HCOG: Christmas in Homestead 1992 « The Citizen Cane

  5. Aunt Jo,
    There was a lot of work and a lot of uncomfortable nights, but I wouldn’t trade any of that back. I got to see and do things that few people have. Nana was one of the biggest assets as far as PR in Tampa/Wimauma and the State of FL that HCOG and our portion of the Johnson family could have ever had.

  6. Sherry and Harry Wright

    This is Hungry Harry’s wife Sherry Harry and I were so sorry to hear about JT our lives were never the same after the times we spent with him those days on the church grounds they changed our lives forever he was an amazing man with a big heart and he gave us the opportunity to do something so much bigger than we could have imagined. We formed friendships with people who we never knew their name only that we all were there for the same reason a commitment to help and make a difference in a situation so tragic. We had media ask us why are you doing this and Harry would say if you have to ask you won’t understand the answer which was because we can and in spite of what some may think we are our brothers keeper.There is something that changes in you when you give your all to help others we came home with so much more than we gave and for that we are grateful to JT all the people and the church for allowing us to be part of the support they provided for their community also to the buses of college students who have up their Thanksgiving vacation home to come support a community in any way they could we all came together for one reason to make a difference in others lives not knowing we would get so much more ❤️!

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