The meal is being hosted by Brian and Sandi Stahl, who first came to Dyersburg in the summer of 2006 to do tornado relief with a mission team from Van Wert, Ohio. Shortly after their arrival, the Stahls realized that God was calling them to do full-time mission work. During their 2006 visit they met Robert Craig, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church, and stayed in touch with him.
To keep up with what was going on in Dyersburg, they received the weekly church newsletter. This is where they found out Dyersburg had suffered severe flooding in May of 2010 and the couple decided they needed to come back and help.
"We need to go help Robert," recalls Sandi Stahl.
And that is exactly what they did. The Stahls returned to Dyersburg to help Dyer County Disaster Recovery Services in assisting flood victims. After being in Dyersburg for a week the Stahls knew it was time to make a change. Brian Stahl, who was a fireman at the rank of lieutenant and state fire instructor, with the Van Wert Fire Department, put in for his retirement. In August 2010, they decided to commit to one year in Dyer County, feeling like God had opened a door for them. So, in 2011, when the flood came again, they knew it was time to make Dyer County home.
Since making the move here, the Stahls have continued with mission work in Alabama, Ohio, West Virginia, and most recently in Costa Rica. Brian Stahl also has recently taken a position as community service director with Reelfoot Rural Ministry. RRM serves elderly and low-income families in Dyer, Lake, Obion and Fulton counties. He describes the job as "more than a job, it's another way to serve".
Last year, the couple was looking for a place to serve on Thanksgiving and could not find any need for Thanksgiving Day. They had the idea of serving a Thanksgiving meal for quite some time and had talked it over with Pastor Craig. This year, they decided that if it was going to happen, they had to stop talking about it and make it happen.
"The first Sunday, that I asked for help from our congregation, I had everything donated and all of the volunteer spots covered," said Sandi Stahl. "It was awesome. I have not talked to anyone that is not excited about this. God tells us to serve."
The Stahls and the congregation have taken the true meaning of Thanksgiving and are opening up the church to anyone who needs a meal that day.
"Anyone that is going to be alone on Thanksgiving or doesn't have the means to provide a meal, even if it's a family of 20, we want them to come to the church and eat with us," said Sand Stahl.
Brain Stahl said they are glad to be able to provide a meal to those in need.
"This is just something that was laid on our hearts and we are so happy that we can do it, and we hope that it grows and we continue this for years to come," said Brian Stahl.
Pastor Craig said the Stahls' passion is invigorating to others and he is glad they chose Dyersburg as their new home.
"We are so blessed to have the Stahls," said Craig. "They are truly a blessing to this community. Their passion for serving others is a blessing to this church, and it's contagious."
For further information, please contact Brian and Sandi Stahl at stahlsinmissions@ yahoo.com