Occom Discovery Center

“Discover the God who is and your place in his  kingdom”

Occom Discovery Center is a discipleship center for Native American and First Nations Christians to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The approach is different than traditional Bible colleges or ministry training centers. ODC is not a diploma/degree-granting institution. Learning, developing, and growing are essential for discipleship, letter grades are not.

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Occom Discovery Center is named in honor of Rev. Samson Occom (Mohegan, 1723-1792). Rev. Occom was the first Native American ordained Presbyterian minister. One of his driving desires was to give the gospel to Native people and provide them with education that would enable them to live in and thrive in their rapidly changing world. He taught at the Moor’s Charity School for Native Americans in Lebonon, CT. Later the school was moved to New Hampshire and became Dartmouth College, which did — for a short time — provide higher education to Native people, only without Samson Occom. Although there are some very sad elements and disappointments in Occom’s story, we find great inspiration in his commitment to the kingdom and Native people.

Discovering the God Who Is . . .

As the name implies, ODC aims towards discovery. Above all, we seek to discover the glories of the Triune God who is as he has revealed himself in the Holy Scriptures. In light of that revelation, we seek to discover our place in his kingdom. God has gifted each and every believer. ODC seeks to help Native American/First Nations disciples of Christ discover their gifts and foster a vision to engage them in the kingdom. In this regard, ODC is a place to begin and/or continue to discover their calling in this world.

The means by which we seek to achieve those ends are multifaceted. Regarding our pursuit of God, we are firmly committed to the ordinary means of grace revealed in Scripture, e.g. reading Scripture, preaching, teaching, prayer, singing, and sacraments. Students will attend a healthy, Christ-centered church.

. . . and Your Place in His Kingdom

Life at ODC may seem monastic in style. That is, disciples are expected to work, follow daily routines, and participate in community life on the campus, as well as seek times of solitude for biblical meditation. The key difference between the historic monastic movement (or at least caricatures of it) and ODC is that we seek to prepare students to go and engage in the world around them. By virtue of that, ODC seeks to be merely a momentary — but life-changing — chapter in the student’s unfolding story.

A bedrock conviction at ODC is that we as creatures created in the image of our Creator were created to create. ODC is a community that dares God’s people to dream. We are seeking those who are visionaries, makers, thinkers, tinkerers doers, happen-makers, craftsmen, artists, builders, and anyone else who wants to dare to dream. All those who are timid, hurt, scared, curious, and most of all, willing to be shaped by the hands of the Potter, are encouraged to join us.

ODC seeks to cultivate a Christian worldview that is both taught and caught, recognizing that changed lives are more influenced by the latter in community. Using multiple methods, ODC seeks to foster twenty-four key areas (displayed below in complementary pairs) in which disciples of Christ are encouraged to continue and cultivate long after their time at ODC.

Occom Discovery Center is a place to discover:

  1. Common Grace/Redeeming Grace
  2. Work/Sabbath
  3. Word/Deed
  4. Community/Solitude
  5. Unity/Diversity
  6. Spiritual Gifts/Natural Talents
  7. Risk/Safety
  8. Giving/Receiving
  9. Listening/Expressing
  10. Personal Identity/Corporate Identity
  11. Increasing/Decreasing
  12. The God who is and your place in his Kingdom

Sounds Great! So where is it?

Right now ODC is still only a dream, but it has been dream that began many years ago. There is no campus, no students, and no staff yet, but the need is an ever-present reality. After serving with various churches and educational ministries, serving in various capacities in multiple locations in Native America for the last thirteen years, we believe that the Lord has prepared us for this very thing. We have presented our proposal to our overseers and peers and received a green light to move forward. This is our long-haul ministry focus.

We are in the dreaming-out-loud phase — trying to find others who can catch the vision and dream with us. Right now we are praying for a location. We have some essential criteria along with a list of preferences. We need land. The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills — and he owns the hills too! So we are asking the Lord to move upon someone with property to offer for use in the kingdom. Are you that someone, or do you know someone? Has the Lord blessed you with the means to purchase the property? We would love to talk with you. We have our vision document available upon request.

Take some action steps right now:

  • Pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He will bring this dream into reality.
  • Forward this post to someone you know who may be interested in hearing more about the Occom Discovery Center.
  • Tell your pastors or missions committee about ODC. Invite us to your church whether in person or via Skype or ZOOM or phone interview.

Never underestimate your influence and effect in the kingdom. Give us a call.

All for the Kingdom!

Patrick and Regina Lennox

MTW Missionaries to Native America

Now You Know: Answering the call to Native America

Not Feeling It?

freedomWhat motivates you to give to a particular missionary or ministry? We continually ask people to pray to see if the Lord is calling them to join our team. The question is, what would it take for the Lord to show you that you should be a part of this effort to reach Native America? What is keeping you from giving?

For some people, it is simply a matter of finances. Money is tight for a lot of folks. We understand that. Really. We’re feeling it, too.

For other folks, it is a matter of simply not feeling it. But what does “feeling it” feel like? Do you give based on a personal benefit or fulfillment that you get from a particular ministry? Do you receive educational/edifying materials and/or a sense of community from that ministry? Simply put, do you get something out of it?

Or do you give based on a sense of urgency about a particular mission field such as feeding the hungry or giving medical attention to the poor? Or is it adventure based? Are you driven to give to a missionary based on an element of danger like venturing into a hostile nation or perhaps going deep into uncharted parts of the world?

The Home Court Disadvantage

I believe the Native American mission field is suffering under a home court disadvantage. For many folks, it just doesn’t seem like a valid mission field anymore. It’s too close to home. For more than ten years, I have heard Christians question the legitimacy of missions to Native America. Much of mainstream Christian America simply doesn’t recognize Native Americans as distinct people groups. Comments like, “They’re Americans, aren’t they?” or “Why don’t they get off the reservations and come to our churches?” or “Make them assimilate?” or “They have their casinos. They’re doing fine,” or perhaps the saddest of  them all, “Do we even have Indians anymore?” The worst part about those comments is that they are uttered in our churches. But I can assure you, there is still a harvest in Indian Country.

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Greener on the Other Side?

I firmly believe if we were talking about the indigenous people groups in foreign lands like Brazil, Central America, or somewhere in Asia, it would be a different conversation. There would be a greater sense of urgency and adventure. But here at “home,” I truly think there is an apathy and cynicism towards missions to our indigenous neighbors here in the U.S. and Canada. Perhaps Native America is not exotic enough for us. Have our Native neighbors become too familiar? Are they not “indigenous” enough anymore?

What We Thought We Knew

hollywood-staaapPart of the problem is that most Americans believe they have a real working knowledge of Native Americans and have relegated them to the past. I can assure you that if your knowledge of our Native neighbors comes mostly from a high school text book (Christian or public), news media outlets (conservative or liberal), and movies (Hollywood or otherwise), then you have an impoverished understanding of your Native American neighbors. And that was no accident.

I am certainly no expert on Native America. Even with my intentional studies over the last few years, annual trips to Cherokee, NC since 2006 (and other reservations), friendships with members from many tribes, I remain simply an informed novice. The real history of Native Americans and their continuing story is much more than what we can passively glean from our cultural sources.

What We Do Know

We already know that Jesus wants to make disciples from among Native American and First Nations peoples. He said “Go, therefore to all nations…” (Matt 28:19). There are 567 in the United States and another 634 in Canada. So there is no shortage of harvest. But there is a shortage of workers. They are few, so we are told by the Lord of the Harvest to pray for workers (Luke 10:2).

Here is a thought: Perhaps when you first began hearing us talk about our mission to Native America, you didn’t think the Lord was calling you to support this ministry. But let me challenge you a bit with our original question: What would it take for the Lord to show you that you should be a part of this effort to reach Native America?

Consider this:

  • Have you been awakened to the need for missions to Native America in a way that you didn’t know before?
  • Have you been convinced that Jesus’ name was mis-represented in some very significant ways in Native America?
  • Are you convinced Jesus wants to do great things among the Indigenous peoples of North America unlike any other time in history?
  • Do you actually believe that the Lord wants to build up His church and expand it in Native America?

How much of your knowledge of Native American providentially came from reading our posts? Whenever we speak to people whether in churches or privately, we hear the same response, “I just didn’t know.” If you have been reading just a fraction of what we have posted on our blog, LennoxLetters.com (which itself is very little), you most likely have learned more about Native American/First Nations peoples than most people you know.

Now You Know

Perhaps before you didn’t know, but now you turn knowledge into actionknow. What will you do with this knowledge? There is a ripe harvest out there in Indian Country and there are Native Christians who are being raised up at the Mokahum Ministry Center. We have received a call to lock arms with Christian Native leaders to make disciples and raise up leaders from among the 1,201 federally recognized nations on the North American continent.

Billy Graham said it years ago that he believed that Native America is a sleeping giant. There is good reason to believe the awakening has begun. The Lord is doing it, and he has given us the call to join him. Now you know. What will you do with that knowledge?

If you have obeyed Jesus by “earnestly praying that the Lord of the Harvest would send laborers into His harvest” (Lk 10:2), then rejoice! We are a partial fulfillment to that prayer. Now that He has answered your prayer, please consider joining us as we answer the call to Native America as we prepare more laborers for the harvest.

Please Let Us Know

If you believe the Lord is calling you to join our support team, please let us know. If you have read this entire post, congratulations, you have endured more than most readers. This proves your concern. We need your support.You can contact us anytime. Call, text, email, Skype, FB Message, however. Let’s talk about you coming aboard our support team and be part of the harvest in Native America.

To Contact Us, click here.

To Give, click here.

All for the Kingdom!

Patrick & Regina

 

*For more about cynicism and apathy towards missions to Native America, read my post Who Needs Fixing?: A New Perspective on Native American Missions.

*To learn more about Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans and its affect on American culture, watch the documentary Reel Injun.

Discipleship with Dignity: An Invitation to Native American and First Nations Peoples

A few months ago, I met Dr. Richard Pratt, founder of Third Millennium Ministries at a missions conference where he was the featured speaker that weekend. Richard’s goal is to provide biblical education for the world for FREE. Upon hearing more about what they do and how they do it, I became very excited about the prospect of what kind of impact this could have on the Native Christian church, and by extension, the rich mission field in Native America.

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Here we are with Dr. Richard Pratt and Rob Griffith of Third Millennium Ministries. Dr. Pratt was the keynote speaker at the Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church’s annual missions conference.

I suggested to Richard that he give a personal invitation to the Native American/First Nations peoples to partake of the rich biblical resources from Third Mill. But I told him that he would first have to address the elephant in the room – his name. General Richard H. Pratt was the father of the Indian boarding school movement. He coined the term “Kill the Indian, save the man” back in the 1870s. That adage was the essence of the guiding doctrine that has had devastating effects on Native families and communities.

Same Name, Different Story

I couldn’t help but see the radical differences in educational philosophy. Richard H. Pratt sought to strip the Indian of all cultural identity. Native children were taken from their families, given a “Christian” name, stripped of identity, clothes, language, and dignity and were abused in ways unimaginable. Western (American) ways were forced upon them, and worst of all, Christianity was forced upon them. If it were only the U.S. government, then my lament would be tempered; I expect that from the kingdoms of this fallen world. But sadly the churches participated as well. You can learn more about that on my previous post, The Indian Boarding School Movement.

Compare that with Richard L. Pratt, Jr., minister of the gospel. His whole ministry is designed to get biblical education to where the people are in their own cultures wherever they are in this world. They retain their dignity and study God’s word in the context of their culture, allowing the people in that culture to be led by Scripture as they make their cultural adjustments if and when needed. For this reason and others, I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for a new chapter of history. I am hopeful.

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Lunch in the situation room with Richard (and Princess) and the GO team.

Still Dreaming

A personal bonus for us is that Third Millennium Ministries is only a twenty minute drive from our home here in Florida. A few weeks ago, Regina and I were invited to sit in on the recording with Richard and dream with the GO team at Third Mill. We are still dreaming together, but for now, the main thing we want to do is get this invitation to as many Native American/First Nations people as possible. With the internet at your fingertips, you can be a part of reaching that goal.

In the Meantime

Until we get to our field, the Mokahum Ministry Center in Bemidji, MN, we are still traveling, blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting – essentially educating the church about the rich mission field in Native America. Opportunities like the one with Third Mill remind us that we are right where we need to be in our journey to the field. Ministry is happening now. Please continue to pray for us. Please also consider joining our support team. We can’t get there without you.

To join our team as a financial supporter, click here to GIVE.

Third Mill behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

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Dr. Richard L. Pratt of Third Millennium Ministries, Patrick and Regina