In 2016 we were invited to participate at the Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church’s (Peachtree City, GA) week-long missions conference. Our story with Carriage Lane actually goes back to our Cherokee days when we met Norm Dunkin and all the great folks who ministered within the Qualla Boundary every summer.
During our visit last year, I met up with fellow RTS seminarian, Rob Griffith, of Third Millennium Ministries. Although I knew of Third Mill’s ministry, I didn’t really understand that their materials were really for everyone, not just poor pastors in remote parts of the world. Once Rob explained to me all the ministry is about, the wheels in my head (both of them) quickly started turning. I thought immediately of the mission field I serve – the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, the Native American/Alaska Native/First Nations peoples of North America. Although my wife and I are called to a discipleship/leadership school located in Minnesota, we got excited at the possibility of Third Mill’s materials reaching the remotest places in Indian Country.
So Rob introduced me to Richard Pratt after the Saturday men’s breakfast. I told Richard how much I loved his approach to ministry and how I intend on take advantage of Third Mill as much as I could for Native America. I suggested that he make a video personally inviting Native American/First Nations peoples to participate in Third Mill materials. But I told him that his name was actually a liability in Indian Country. It was probably one of the most notorious names in Indian Country, second only to Custer. Keep reading…
Briefly, there was a U.S. military man named Richard H. Pratt, who started the first government Indian boarding school in Carlisle, PA, which began a movement of off-reservation schools for Indian children where children were taken from their family and communities to be subjected to civilization of the savage under the doctrine of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Christianity and the “white man’s ways” were forced upon the Native children. Space will not allow to list the suffering that took place in those schools. This dark era in U.S. history (1879 – 1979) inflicted untold pain on our Native neighbors still felt in Indian Country today.
Because is this history, there are hurdles to overcome with our first neighbors. Unlike the Richard Pratt of old, this Richard Pratt’s approach to education is the exact opposite – teach the Bible in the context of the people where they live without imposing cultural standards upon Christ’s disciples. Richard thought it was a good idea, so he told me to write a script and he will create a video . . . That was an Ebenezer moment for us.
Back at Home
As soon as I could, I got to work on the script. I wrote up a draft and ran it by two Christian leaders in Indian Country to review it. With their blessing, I gave it to Third Mill for Richard to record. By late spring, the video was completed. We were invited to be there for the recording. . . Once it was recorded, they asked us what we would like to see done with the video. . . Not knowing how exactly to get this video invitation out there, I posted it on our blog, LennoxLetters.com.
Native America and General Assembly 2016
Then it hit us. MTW was going to highlight their work among Native American and First Nations peoples at the MTW luncheon at our General Assembly. Their guest speaker was going to be Huron Clause (Mohawk, Kiowa) of CHIEF Ministries – a long-time friend of MTW. We thought that it would be great if they showed the video Richard made a few months earlier, so Regina urged me to make some phone calls to the home office to see if this could work. Anxiously I waited for the answer, and by God’s good providence, it was a done deal. . . I was able to introduce Richard and Huron to each other. After the lunch, Richard had invited Huron to visit Third Mill’s home office if ever he was in Florida.
The Big Day
The following October, Huron took Richard up on that invitation. Through my meddling and God’s providence, Regina and I were able to be a couple of flies on the wall during that visit. It was a great meeting between these two important ministries . . .
We are blessed to have a small role in all that God is doing with these various ministries. I think how Carriage Lane made a long-term commitment for a short-term project with Mission to the World in Cherokee. From there, we met Norm and the gang, which led us to Carriage Lane, where we ultimately met Richard Pratt through a fellow RTS seminarian, Rob Griffith. It took all that for us to meet a man who is ten miles down the road from our house. What will the Lord do with that? We’ll keep you posted.
(The above article is an abridged version of an article in Lennox Letters originally written for Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City, GA.)