No Wonder

Whipple

“I know of no other instance in history where a great nation has so shamefully violated its oath. Our country must forever bear the disgrace and suffer the retribution of its wrongdoing. Our children’s children will tell the sad story in hushed tones and wonder how their fathers dared so to trample on justice and trifle with God.”

The above quote was penned by Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple, the first Episcopalian Bishop of Minnesota, advocate for Native peoples, and negotiator for the U.S. He earned the name “Straight Tongue” from the Native people he tried to reach. Those sobering words were in response to the flagrant U.S. violations of the Fort Laramie Treaty with the Lakota (Sioux) people.

My purpose in highlighting these haunting words is not to revisit the violations of the treaty, but to point out that Bishop Whipple and other churchmen of the day actually believed that “to trample on justice” is to “trifle with God.” Do we believe that today?

Another sobering reality is that Whipple’s prediction that “our children’s children” would somehow “tell the sad story in hushed tones and wonder how their fathers dared so to trample on justice and trifle with God.” The sad reality is that the children’s children don’t know the story. As a country and a church, we are have mostly forgotten about our Native neighbors. More than that, people today in this country don’t even know what to forget—they never knew. And our Native neighbors know that about us.

Ancient History?

Many people are actually surprised to know that Native Americans still actually exist. And most of those Americans who do know that Native Americans exist view their first neighbors according to stereotypes created for them by Hollywood, U.S. public and private school education, headlines, and good old mascots.


Reel Injun

If you are willing to take a hard look at the main source of our “knowledge” of Native America, then you must watch Reel Injun a 2009 Canadian documentary film directed by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, and Jeremiah Hayes that explores the portrayal of Native Americans in film.


The seemingly dominant view of Native American history begins with the Pilgrims and ends with the so-called Indian Wars, which ended at the massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890. In the minds of most Americans I speak with, there is a clean, bold line of demarcation separating the past from the present — a that-was-then-this-is-now paradigm that ignores the entire 20th century’s continual assault on Native peoples. We are stuck on the false notion that all the injustices happened a long time ago, and the Native Americans today simply refuse to get over it.

What was so bad about the 20th century?

What most Americans are unaware of is that the 20th century was one of the most harmful centuries to Native American and First Nations in our history together. People wonder why there is so much brokenness among Native America and First Nations people. The is answer is quite simple: Because they were broken.

One of most important chapters in that story of brokenness happened during our lifetime. The boarding/residential school experiment took Native children away from their family and communities, beginning in 1878 at the Carlisle Indian School. The boarding school movement spread throughout the U.S. and Canada, lasting for a century.

To learn more about this dark stain on our history, see my two posts below to hear Native people in their own words:

The Indian Boarding School Movement: Christian Complicity, part 1

The Indian Boarding School Movement: Christian Complicity, part 2

If you thought that all of the problems in Indian country were a result of casinos, government handouts, and some kind of genetic propensity towards alcoholism, then you will have to re-adjust our equation. They live with realities that we just don’t understand. They live in a story that was written for them by a dominant culture that tried to “civilize” and “Christianize” them. Now we as modern-day Christians wonder why there is so much distrust among our first neighbors towards Christians.

In order for us to be good witness for Christ, we need to be good neighbors. Let’s give Jesus a better witness in Indian country. Let’s go in meekness and love. Let’s get some genuine understanding of our Native neigbors before we ask questions like, why don’t they assimilate? or why don’t they just get over the past? Let’s just meet them where they are at and love our Native neighbors.

New Wonder

We have a vast and diverse mission field underneath our feet (I never say “our own back yard”). Perhaps the Lord will give our children’s children a sense of wonder when they look back on us as we followed the Lord of the Harvest into His field in Native America. Perhaps it will be Native children’s children that will be evangelizing our children’s children one day. We cannot predict the Lord, but we must obey Him. I believe is calling us into Native America to discover what He is already doing. Let’s go.

Recommended readings:

Dear Missions Commitee

RECONCILIATION: It’s Not as Black and White as It Seems

Who Needs Fixing?: A New Perspective on Native American Missions

Native Americans: Reached, Unreached, or Mis-reached?

Now You Know: Answering the call to Native America

Let’s talk at GA booth #249.

Patrick Lennox

IMG_20180206_153328710

Patrick & Regina Lennox

Missionaries to Native America

Mission to the World

Phone: 407.416.1482

Email: LennoxLetters@gmail.com

Blog: www.lennoxletters.com
Facebook.com/patrick.r.lennox
Twitter: @patricklennox

Instagram: @patrick_lennoxletters

Reconcilation: Long History, Short Memories, New Beginnings

When I talk with average church folk, pastors, and most mission committees about Native America, it becomes quite apparent very quickly that they have very little knowledge about our first neighbors. This is not a condemnation of any kind, just an observation. I have said it before, and it bears repeating: If all your knowledge of Native America comes from High school text books, headlines, or Hollywood (yes, even Dinesh D’Souza), then you simply don’t know about your Native America. You may have picked up some facts, as accurate as they may be, and you may have in-depth knowledge of a particular historical event, but that doesn’t give you real knowledge of your Native neighbors.

That Was Then, This Is Now. Right?

People often have a default line of demarcation with Native history ending at the final Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890. Although that date certainly ended an era in Native history (the so-called Indian Wars), their history as a people continued with more assaults to their way of life and existence. As I mentioned in my last post, Reconciliation: It’s Not as Black and White as It Seems, the twentieth century was one of the worst centuries for Native peoples. After all the land was taken and the people conquered, then the U.S. government came for the children — and the church participated. Their history continues.

Read more about our common views of our Native neighbors HOW: Were You Informed about Native Americans?

To be sure this issue here is not whether our Native American/First Nations neighbors are more important than our black, Hispanic, or Asian neighbors. And although we just referenced a lot of historical data, we don’t need to get lost in the details of that. Again, my concern is not about the big numbers, but they do serve as the backdrop and give perspective to the issues today that plague Indian country and cannot be ignored.

What must be remembered is that the church played an important role in the destruction of Native cultures, which has led to so many problems in Indian country today.  It is extremely important for our denomination to have a fuller understanding of our Presbyterian heritage, warts and all, so we can be better witness to our Native neighbors and even more so, to our Native brothers and sisters who have long embraced Christ, but still live with the effects of this painful history, which that most of the non-Native, American church knows nothing about.

Doctrine, Destiny, and Dollars

American_progressAs Protestants, we need to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny, if we want to have better open-dialogue with our Native neighbors.

The first slaves ever sold from the North American continent were the Native peoples. Untold numbers were sent to the Caribbean (West Indies) and other places throughout the world. Both Catholics and Protestants participated.

The two initial Roman papal bulls that gave “divine” license to Christian Monarchs to enslave Native peoples throughout the world and take their land were Papal Bull Dum Diversas, 18 June 1452, and Bull Romanus Pontifex, 8 January 1454. These deleterious doctrines ultimately became the foundation to our U.S. Doctrine of Discovery (Johnson vs. Mc’Intosh 1823) and Manifest Destiny and is the economic reason for the success of the United States of America. “This land was made for you and me.”

Where does reconciliation begin?

How is Native America not like the man who was overtaken by robbers, beaten and left on the side of the road? How are we not different from the priests and Levites who crossed the road when they saw the man on the side of the road? (Luke 10:25-37). Many Native voices would say we were the robbers who overtook them. Today, political and theological liberals are acting as the good Samaritans. Perhaps what is worse is that we don’t even cross the road anymore. We don’t even know they are there. They have become invisible.

jesus_christ_is_lord_-_a_billboard_from_the_crow_nation

Jesus is at work in Indian country. Above is a tribal sponsored sign in the Crow Nation.

Part of reconciliation begins with the confession and regret of us not knowing about the reasons behind the pain in Indian Country inflected upon them. Native people know that most non-Native people do not know about their real history and suffering through the 20th and 21st centuries. They also know that most people don’t even want to know.

Reconciliation would require a repudiation of the pernicious Doctrine of Discovery that has caused so much suffering in Native America, as well as throughout the world. As Reformed Protestants, who have benefitted from the doctrine, we should be more than eager to repent and reform.

Reconciliation would  be a recognition of the darker moments in our Presbyterian heritage and history, in particular, the attitudes and actions that led to the destruction of Indian culture in the name of the Great Commission.

There is certainly more that could added to this list, but but at this point enough has been said to start a real conversation within the PCA. Am I calling for repentance for sins of past generations of Presbyterian denominations? No, actually they have already done that themselves. In fact, the PCUSA has done extensive research on this subject and has given a great response to our first neighbors.

What I am asking for is an open letter to our Native neighbors that we recognize the sins of our fathers and that we will strive to examine our own hearts, thoughts, and actions with a commitment to study our own history and theirs and strive to not repeat our past.

Recommended readings:

Dear Missions Commitee

RECONCILIATION: It’s Not as Black and White as It Seems

Who Needs Fixing?: A New Perspective on Native American Missions

Native Americans: Reached, Unreached, or Mis-reached?

Now You Know: Answering the call to Native America

The Indian Boarding School Movement: Christian Complicity, part 1

The Indian Boarding School Movement: Christian Complicity, part 2

Let’s talk at GA booth #249.

Patrick Lennox

IMG_20180206_153328710

Patrick & Regina Lennox

Missionaries to Native America

Mission to the World

Phone: 407.416.1482

Email: LennoxLetters@gmail.com

Blog: www.lennoxletters.com
Facebook.com/patrick.r.lennox
Twitter: @patricklennox

Instagram: @patrick_lennoxletters

 

 

The Other Side of Sunsets

old Indian mound Sanford IMG_20170219_180958078
Our time is short. The sun is setting on our time here in Florida. The picture above is an emblematic bitter/sweet reminder of where we are on the timeline. Now we are facing the reality of leaving the company and comfort of family and friends. But for every sunset there is also a sunrise. For the last eighteen years, we have called Florida home. The last three have been spent trying to raise our support team to get us to the mission field in Indian country. We are almost there.

As the sun has been setting on our time here in Florida, we have been getting a behind-the-scenes view of the sunrise on our new mission field at the Mokahum Ministry Center in Minnesota. Mokahum is an Ojibwe word that means ‘the sun is rising’ or ‘new day.’ It represents a new beginning for the students as they enter a new chapter of life in their walk with Jesus. And of course, it is a new beginning for us as we strive to follow the Lord where He leads.

We have not reached our destination yet. Although our departure date is fast approaching, we have not yet reached our budget goal. Please consider joining our support team with a monthly, quarterly, or annual pledge. We would love to connect with you.

To become a pledging supporter or give a special gift, click here GIVE.

Please feel free to CONTACT US with any questions and to learn about the best way to give.

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Patrick & Regina are MTW missionaries burdened to serve among Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations peoples. They received a call from the Mokahum Ministry Center located on the Leech Lake Reservation near Bemidji, MN. 

 

 

*We took that picture during a boat ride at the end of a great day with friends. The gathering was in honor of missionaries supported by our home church. Our hosts’ home is on the banks of Lake Monroe in Sanford, Florida where there are multiple significant archaeological sites. The palm trees are growing on an ancient Indian mount, most likely created by the now-extinct Mayaca people.

Piper Nails It!

Thank you, John Piper, for your boldness to say what we don’t want to hear!

And for everyone viewing this post, thank you in advance for prayerfully considering to support our outreach to the 567 federally recognized Native American tribes in the US and the 634 First Nations in Canada.

We need 17 more partners to give $100 per month to send us on our way to the Mokahum Ministry Center in Bemidji, MN.

If you have been challenged by John Piper’s message, and would like to talk about how you can partner with us in Indian country, please Contact Us. We would love to talk with you.

All for the Kingdom!

Patrick & Regina Lennox

MTW Missionaries to Native America/First Nations

A Better Way to Build: Lessons from an Angry Pastor

building house - bricks and project for construction industry

There is an age-old technique pastors have used to give their church a sense of unity and mission. It’s called the building campaign. Trust me. I have heard about it, read about, and have seen it. Now don’t get me wrong. This is not the case with all building campaigns. Even as I write this, my home church is doing a long overdue renovation and is engaging in a long-term building plan. In fact, they put off the an expensive building plan for many years in order to support more missionaries on the field.

So What Exactly Does Compulsion Look Like?

We have visited a lot of churches. I will never forget the most awkward church service I have ever attended. It was immediately after we began our journey as missionaries. Up until that time, I only heard about such things, but that Sunday, we actually heard it with our own ears. It was a pastor chastising the congregation for not participating on a capital campaign. To be clear, he wasn’t chastising them for not fulfilling a pledge; he reprimanded all those who chose not to pledge to the campaign. He proceeded to tell his congregation that he was “angry, saddened, and vexed” when he thought of all those who didn’t give. More than that, he told them that he knew the names of everyone who didn’t pledge.

boss scolding his employees and these will run

This particular capital campaign was an effort to pay down the mortgage debt earlier than scheduled. The rationale for the quick retirement of the mortgage was so the church could increase its missions budget. On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with that rationale. The backstory, according to a member, was that the congregation already heard that before while worshiping in their original building. Shortly after that mortgage burning, the decision was made to sell the church and embark on a new building campaign.

If that chastising were not bad enough on that Lord’s Day, the really strange part was that the pastor proceeded to preach on 2 Corinthians 9:7 only hours later at the evening service. Let’s remind ourselves of the passage:

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (ESV)

I don’t know how that preacher handled this passage that evening, I wasn’t there. But I can assure you that what he did that morning was a betrayal of the passage. If that was not compulsion by the pastor, I don’t know what is. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident in the Lord’s church.

WWPD — What Would Peter Do?

Now I agree that pastors must admonish their congregation to give to the work of the kingdom. Of course, someone may call upon Acts 5:1-11 where Peter rebukes Ananias and Sapphira for not giving all they declared to have given. That was a pretty severe situation and ought to put the fear of God in us. But I don’t recall Peter expressing his personal anger to them (not that Peter was incapable of expressing his frustration with people). As far as we can tell from that passage, Peter dealt with them in a straightforward fashion declaring how the Spirit was going to deal with them. Yet even if Peter did indeed express deep vexation towards that lying couple, we have seen enough of Peter to not emulate him during his emotionally extreme moments.

According to studies most Christians don’t give anything that resembles a tithe, while so many give sacrificially. Our requests for support are turned down time and time again because churches have really tight budgets, or even more, they are operating over budget. Let me emphasize my appreciation for the pastors who give their all and encourage their flock to do the same for the kingdom. We know many of them.

Lesson Learned

Mood swings in a girl

This                                                                                        Not This

Like angry pastors, I, too, can get frustrated. I would much rather be serving on the field with all our funds raised right now rather than waiting for folks to cheerfully give to our ministry. But we are on the Lord’s timetable not mine. He moves the hearts of people, not me. And He doesn’t need me scolding His people for not giving to our ministry.

As painful as it was to watch, I am thankful that I was able to be there that particular Sunday. By God’s providence that year, I was able to witness something I wouldn’t have believed if you told me. The Lord used that occasion to remind me how not to raise funds even thought that scolding worked–they ended up meeting their goal, and they never did decide to partner with us. All by God’s grace!

Are You a Cheerful Giver?

I don’t know who is reading this post. I don’t know your financial situation. I don’t know your heart condition. I don’t know who you are, and even if I did, I promise I won’t publicly expose you for not giving to our mission.

I cannot tell you that the Lord of the Harvest requires you to give to our mission, but I can tell you that He requires you to give to the Great Commission. We can only hope He moves on your heart to give in our direction.

hand nurturing and watering young baby plants growing in germination sequence on fertile soil with natural green background

We don’t have anything to offer you except our prayers and reports from the field of what Jesus is doing in Indian country. We don’t have any forecasts or projections of how Jesus will give you a really good ROI (return on investment).  But God’s word tells us that we should not despise small beginnings (Zach 4:10). Some plant, some water, but we are assured that the Lord who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:7). Our ministry does the watering. Please consider our small beginning and see how the Lord increases the fruit of our labors.

If you would like to talk to us about our ministry and how you can be part of our support team, please contact us. We are always available to talk to you.

Dear #TGC17 Friend,

Dear TGC friend,

We are Patrick and Regina Lennox – MTW missionaries to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. We want to affirm our love for the church and our commitment to the gospel and the Great Commission. We are Reformed in theology and Presbyterian (PCA) in polity. Our missional burden is for the 1,200 federally recognized Native nations in the US and Canada. Of particular importance to us is how we apply our theology to cultural engagement. We trust that this is a priority for you as well.

As we spend the next few days taking in a lot of good lectures and discussions, I want to challenge you to consider how we can apply what we are learning to our Native neighbors. In order for us to be good witnesses for Christ, we must be good neighbors. We are available to talk with you about how we can be better neighbors to our nation’s first mission field.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther. Credit: Adobe Stock

This year as we celebrate 500 years of the Protestant Reformation, our burden is to awaken the church to a mission field that has become invisible to the average American Christian. Unfortunately in order to do that, we must deal with some unpleasant truths that have been largely ignored for generations. How can I say this politely? If your knowledge of Native America is mostly from high school text books, Hollywood, and/or news media headlines, then you have no real knowledge of your 5.2 million Native neighbors in the US and Canada or their history.

Read HOW: Where you informed about Native Americans? here.

I do believe there is much to celebrate when it comes to gospel proclamation among Native Americans. Yet there is so much more to lament when we understand what was done in the name of God and country that has caused irreparable and ongoing damage to Native people for nearly a half millennium.

We are calling the church to reflect, lament, repent, reform, and go to Native America again with boldness in the gospel and with humility and meekness in spirit. We cannot do that if we don’t first take a look at our history from a Native perspective.

Click here to see a sampling of resources from a Native perspective, Native America Today.

Many of the discussions here at TGC concern racial reconciliation, justice, cultural engagement, or the “re-shaping” of culture. Please understand, Native Americans have nearly had their culture completely wiped out by the dominant society that proclaimed itself Christian – and yes, the church was actually directly involved in that process.

This is by no means a critique on the legitimacy of our efforts to culturally engage the world around us. This is simply a reminder that if we ignore our failures as a church in history, then we are destined to repeat them. Jesus deserves better than that. We can do better than that. The best days are ahead of us if we learn from our errors that turned the Great Commission into the Great Imposition. The question is, are we willing to recognize those errors, own them as part of our history, and then seek to re-engage a mis-reached and forgotten mission field for the Lord of Glory?

If your answer is yes to that question, we would like to talk with you. We are striving to reach our mission field by summer 2017. We would like you to be part of our team as we make disciples in Native America. We will be at TGC on Tuesday and Wednesday. If you would like to Skype or ZOOM, call, email, or text, we are available for that.  You can message us on the TGC2017 app or text us. Better yet, come by the MTW booth. We’d love to talk with you.

Patrick & Regina Lennox

Missionaries to Native America/Mokahum Ministry Center/Bemidji, MN

 

 

Dear Missions Committee

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