Dear Missions Committee

Dear Missions Committee,

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are Patrick and Regina Lennox, MTW missionaries to Native America. We are striving to serve the 567 federally recognized Native American/Alaska Native tribes in the US and the 634 First Nations in Canada.

Currently we are at 70% of our pledged support. We don’t get to the field until we reach 100%. We are hoping your church would prayerfully consider partnering with us in Indian Country at the Mokahum Ministry Center near Bemidji, MN.

About Mokahum and Our Work

cropped-mokahum-sign.jpgWe are extremely encouraged by what the Lord is doing at Mokahum. The name is derived from an Ojibwe word, which essentially means “the sun is rising” or “new beginning.” MMC is a discipleship/leadership training center in Cass Lake located on the Leech Lake Reservation.

Although that is Ojibwe country, the school is for all the Indigenous peoples of North America, both US and Canada. Mokahum fulfills a great need in Native America serving Native Christian men and women who desire focused discipleship that they may be more effective witnesses in their communities in Indian Country. There is also a leadership track for those who believe tzane-williamshey are called to Christian ministry in a greater capacity.

Mokahum has a long history – and a new history – and a good reputation in Indian Country. Our missions organization, Mission to the World, is striving to expand its reach throughout Indian Country at many levels. Mokahum and its leadership are deeply embedded in Indian Country. Under the direction of Zane Williams (Navajo, CMA), Mokahum is a ministry of the Center for Indian Ministries and is well connected with other ministries to Native America from Native America.

We are looking to join another MTW couple, Bill and Susan Carr, who are already serving there. Bill is the director of education. I (Patrick) will be the director of student life, as well as a teacher. Regina will be available to the female students as a mentor – a key component to the education model at Mokahum.

Our Current Challenge

david-brainerdOne of our greatest struggles is educating people about the history of Native America and the need to continue missions. Some people know of the 18th century Presbyterian missionary to Indians, David Brainerd, but that is the extent of their knowledge of Native missions.

From our travels over the years, speaking with people of all ages and walks of life, we have observed that the average Christian just doesn’t know about our Native neighbors. This is true of so many pastors and fellow missionaries as well. In fact, “I just didn’t know” or “I had no idea” are common sentiments expressed to us by so many people. I was one of them.

They Don’t Need “Fixing”

Jonathan_EdwardsThe great 18th century theologian and missionary to the Mohawk and Mohican Indians, Jonathan Edwards once said, “The English of Massachusetts were too interested in fixing the Indians…rather than giving them the gospel.” Sadly, the Americans followed suit.

Native Americans do not need “fixing.” They have been “fixed” for nearly 500 years, and we are still dealing with the painful ramifications of deeply flawed mission strategies embedded with paternalism and colonialism.

Missiologists have recognized this problem with indigenous peoples around the world where the thomas_watsongospel came with Western domination and the resulting marginalization of indigenous people. The so-called Doctrine of Discovery gave license to trample over so many rich harvest fields.

Every day I feel the sting of the words of my favorite Puritan, Thomas Watson, “By every unjust action, you deny Christ, you stain the glory of your profession. Heathens will rise up in judgment against you.” If we knew our history in Native America, we would understand the indictment that stands against us.

We Need a Better Ending

During 2017 Protestants around the world will be celebrating 500 years of Post Tenabras Lux that began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg door, thus igniting the Protestant Reformation. Indeed, there is much to celebrate. But as we examine the treatment of our Native neighbors by both Catholic and Protestant missionary endeavors during the last half millennium, there is much to lament over and still much yet to reform.

lutherAs heirs of the Reformation, we must use this year to take a hard and sober look at ourselves as we move forward into the next 500 years should the Lord tarry. As we do, here is my one thesis I am nailing to your door:

Jesus deserves a better witness in Indian Country. We need a better ending in the history of Native American missions. We need to lament, repent, reform, and go.

By God’s Grace, It’s Not Over

His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23). The fields are still ripe for harvest, and the Lord of the Harvest bids us go. And as we go, let these two questions and resolutions guide us:

  1. What is Jesus already doing in Native America? – Resolve to join Him and be a part of it.
  2. What does the Native Christian church have to offer the rest of the church in this country and throughout the world? – Resolve in humility to expect it and receive it.

I have said a lot of hard things to ponder, but let me be clear: I don’t believe in guilt-driven or statistics-driven ministry. This is gospel-driven ministry. We go because Jesus said so, and the Lord of glory deserves a better name in Indian Country. If the world stumbles, let it be because of Jesus, the Rock of Offense (1 Pet 2:8), not us and our misguided missional strategies.

Billy Graham said years ago that he believed Native America was a sleeping giant. There are signs of an awakening. Please consider joining us in our mission. If you haven’t already, please include a line item on your missions budget for our first neighbors. They still need the gospel. The best days are ahead of us if we learn from history. Help us raise up disciples and leaders at the Mokahum Ministry Center with our Native brothers and sisters that we may strive together to reach the lost in America’s first and forgotten mission field.

See our Contact Us page to reach us. We are always available to speak with you.

Thank you for your consideration.

Patrick & Regina Lennox #14241

MTW Missionaries to Native America/Bemidji, MN

2 thoughts on “Dear Missions Committee

  1. Given that one of your spoken goals is to see the First Nations represented in Protestant leadership, what is the advantage of this center over sponsoring individuals to attend established theological institutions? Is this a transition to latter? Thanks for your time!

    • Good question, Jonathan. Mokahum is an established school. It is small and young, but established. It is different than other theological institutions, meeting different needs that other institutions don’t meet. The first two years of the Mokahum experience focus on discipleship. Many of the students who attend are new believers who are simply looking for discipleship. The first two years at Mokahum is designed for them. Each student is paired up with a mentor who will walk them through the whole experience. Students will learn how to study Scripture, get introduced to theology, and apply to their lives. This is basic personal discipleship that is oftentimes not available on many reserves. For the first two years is simply to make and grow disciples. After two years, the students would have been through the Scriptures, lived and learned with other NA/FN brothers and sisters, worked with both Native and non-Native teachers and staff at a school that is in the middle of Indian Country.

      Keep in mind that many (if not all) of the students at Mokahum come from a reservation/reserve and will most likely return. They are coming with some heavy personal challenges. Mokahum recognizes and works with that.

      If after the two years a student believes he is being called to ministry in a greater capacity, then he must re-apply, and upon approval, enter the leadership track. Is Mokahum academically on par with established theological institutions like the one I graduated from (Reformed Theological Seminary, M.Div. 2014), no. It is not a two- or three- year seminary. But perhaps students may be inspired to go further academically.

      Indulge me for a for a moment as I trace my academic career. I have never completed a school until seminary. I went to two different elementary schools, two different junior high schools, one high school, which I ended up quitting, and a vocational school (quit that too), but I got my GED at age sixteen. I entered Bible college when I was 25 yrs old, not sure if I could handle the rigors of college. I thought I was stupid. I smoked a lot of dope between age 14- 21 and tripped on a lot of LSD as well. I never read a book cover-to-cover. But I ended second in my class my first year of Bible college. I transferred to another school and ultimately graduated from that one, via correspondence with a mentor. Just like the first one, that Bible college was not accredited, but I went, not because I planned on being a pastor or academician. I originally went to Bible college simply to study the Bible, although I did have a desire to go on the mission field as well. Later I dreamed of starting an apologetics ministry, but I was providentially directed away from that and ended up working for Ligonier Ministries. Later I had aspirations of going to seminary, but I had to wait until I was thirty-five years old before I could enter RTS, at which time you are automatically put on academic probation for the first 27 credits, and only after 35 credits could I apply for degree, rather than diploma, status. Even with my broken track record, I have learned that I can run with the big dogs academically.

      I left out a lot of painful personal details, but buy point in all this is that many people come from more difficult situations than I did. They simply want to be discipled and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mokahum is for them.

      To answer your questions directly, the advantage of sending a young disciple to Mokahum is that he or she will receive discipleship in community that knows where they come from, not just schooling in an academic institution.

      Is Mokahum a transition to “established theological institution”? Well, technically, like I mentioned above, Mokahum is established, albeit young, , and it is an institution, albeit small. But after four years, Mokahum graduates should be able to handle the academic rigors of a traditional American seminary. I can say that with confidence because of my own personal academic pilgrimage.

      There is one student enrolled right now at Mokahum who will be the pastor of his church once his father passes, which is expected to be soon. He will most likely not go on to a traditional seminary. In fact, he may have to make the painful choice of leaving Mokahum early because of that. His church is a persecuted church that has been burned down twice. These are some of the realities in Indian Country.

      I could go on, but I hope this addresses your question with some clarity.

      Please pray for Mokahum and the students. Pray for us as well for we are very eager to get there to join our brothers and sisters in Indian Country.

      Blessings to you.

      Patrick

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