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.

forest picture frame on dry ground texture Nature Conservancy co

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.

Christianity and the Native American Religious Experience

If there was ever one video I would have Christians watch when considering Native American ministry today, it is this one. Let us not be comfortable with our ideas and opinions until we have them challenged and informed. This short video provides a quick overview of Native American and Christian relations in early America.

About the speaker

Linford Fisher is assistant professor at Brown University. He graduated from Lancaster Bible College in 1999 and received masters degrees in religion and church history from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2002. Fisher completed his doctorate in American religious history at Harvard in 2008. The topic of his dissertation—how the 18th-century religious “awakening” in New England impacted Native Americans—is also the subject of his first book, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America.

Who Do You Think Jesus Is?

Great friends + great view, = great day

Great friends + great view = great day

Every year as we hold our teen outreach at a local community center, kids from the different corners from the reservation come out to spend their days with us. Our program is pretty simple, shoot some hoop, play some dodgeball, sing some songs, and have a time of Bible teaching and prayer, followed by pizza. Later we take a field trip into the mountains and enjoy God’s creation.

Although we have gotten to know and love many of the youth through the years, we are blessed to meet new kids all the time. During one of our trips on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I asked a couple of the new kids about their exposure to Christianity. I learned that one them went to church when she was three-years-old, while the other one had never stepped foot in a church his whole life. I was all the more eager to tell them about Jesus.

As we continued to drive through the mountains, I asked them to tell me who they thought Jesus was. If you recall, Jesus asked Peter the same question in Matthew 16:15. Our new friends reluctant to answer, so I carefully explained that there was no wrong answer. I made it clear that I was not asking them to tell me who He was, but rather, I wanted to know what idea they had of Him with what little exposure that they had to biblical teaching. One of them dared an answer. In that guessing kind of way, she said, “I don’t know, was he a really good Christian who fought for freedom?” I said, “Ya know, I like that answer.” As much as a guess as it was, I liked it because of the truth in that assessment (yes, of course I gently clarified the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and Christians are the ones follow Him). I like it because Jesus did fight for freedom – freedom from sin, freedom from death and God’s wrath, freedom from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yes, Jesus did fight for freedom, and he who the Son sets free is free indeed.

We are praying for more occasions to disciple the youth of Cherokee. We want to see them set free. We are praying for a day when they share in Peter’s confession to Jesus, “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16).