The Kingdom of God is advancing in Indian Country, but with the highest rates of suicide, domestic and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and poverty in the country, the battles are hard-won and relentless.
Native American/First Nations pastors need rest, refreshment, reflection, encouragement, and solid biblical and theological training to be able to serve the sheep entrusted to their care. Recognizing this need, MTW is hosting the Native Pastors Gathering 2020 in collaboration withThirdmill,CHIEF, and Sacred Road Ministries.
Our theme and title of this event is Feed My Sheep, calling attention to Jesus’ command to Peter to feed the flock of God in John 21:17. But for so many Native pastors, lack of time and resources combined with the tyranny of the urgent, adversely prohibit adequate attention to the study and application of Scripture.
Shepherds feed the sheep, but who feeds the shepherds? For three days, Native pastors and their wives from the U.S. and Canada will gather at the Twin Lakes Conference Center in Florence, MS, to receive rest, refreshment, and resources to better feed their flocks.
We are offering an all-expense paid retreat experience, including transportation costs for those who cannot afford the expense. Please consider supporting this important event.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. According to advertising gurus, I am supposed to fill this post with some really good pictures of things that will either inspire you or give you a warm fuzzy feeling to keep you interested in reading, and my word count should not exceed 300. So I will try (and fail) to meet those industry standards and hope you are smarter than a fifth grader and trust you will take some time to read on. If you don’t think you can persevere, jump down to the #ThePoint section below. [insert cute winking smiley face here]
According to our last count on Facebook, we have 603 friends. That means we either sent a friend request to you or we received one from you. Either way, I am glad we are friends. [insert lots of smiley faces in a row here]
I never really used FB much. It was mostly Regina who did all the liking and commenting. I saw many of the viral videos of flash-mobs singing in the mall and tear-jerking pics of cute animals. But over the last six months, I have come to understand the potential social media can have for the kingdom of God. Since March we have been posting about our new direction that the Lord has taken us. So we post, and post, and post, yet with limited response. But then I learned that only 20% of our posts ever get to our ‘Friends.’ I am not even sure what that statistic means. Does it mean that only 20 out of 100 posts get to all 603 friends, or does it mean that 100% of our posts get to 20% or our friends? [insert funny face that looks confused]
#Warning: By the time you finish reading this very long sentence, I will have reached my maximum word count of 300, and I will lose a significant amount of my reading friends to boredom. [insert sad smiley face]
But that is not all that bad, because I just got a FB notification that someone just ‘commented’ on one of Melissa Gill’s photos, which I must say are always beautiful. Behold…
Melissa’s inspiring and envy-inducing photo of her neighborhood in Alaska, which 56 of her friends ‘Like.’
Now to the point. As 20% of you may already know, we are going to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina to plant a church. We won’t have a worldwide ministry with books, conferences, alliances, and lots of free stuff, nor will we ever reach that level. Nor will there be trendy t-shirts with pictures of Calvin et al smoking a peace pipe with Geronimo and Sitting Bull and a cool Latin phrase signifying ‘Reformation on the Reservations.’ And for the last nail in our coffin, we probably won’t even have an app. Sorry. But we hope our church will raise up missionaries that will go through Native America both on and off the reservations and even throughout the world. Then maybe an app.
As missionaries we need to raise our support to get us there and keep us there. So far we are at about 28% of our goal. Many of our FB friends are already part of that number. For the rest, this is our plea to you:
Would you prayerfully consider pledging $12, $25, $50, $100, $200 per month for at least a four-year period?
If every one of our friends would pledge even at the lowest amount, we would be packing our bags tomorrow. No amount is too small. Really. But don’t wait for the other person to do it. We are depending on you. Churches only account for about 30% of a missionary’s budget. You are the 70%.
If you really have no money to give, you can still help us by connecting us with others who may have a desire to see the kingdom spread throughout the Native American reservations.
Go to the ant! Proverbs 6:6
Here’s some other things you could do:
Do you attend a Bible study with a mix of people from different churches? Tell them about what we are doing. We will send you some of our prayer cards.
Talk to your pastor.
Consider having a home gathering at your house with us to share our vision with your friends.
And here is the easiest thing you could do: Re-post our FB posts to your friends. Remember that dreaded 20% number.
On the upper right hand corner of the pages of this blog is a widget. Click it. It gives you updates whenever they happen. Re-post.
We can do more with Facebook and all social media than pour water on our heads and create flash mobs. Please pray about what you can do and act on it before another trendy viral post hits. [insert long string of happy faces with ice water being poured on them as they sing the Hallelujah chorus in a mall]
Truly and seriously, thank you for taking time to read this post and prayerfully considering joining our support team. If you decide to give, simply go to our Giving page. If you would rather call (as we prefer), our number is 407-416-1482 or 407-416-2348. We would love to talk with you.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. — 1 Peter 2:4-5, ESV
When I was growing up in New England, I used to walk along the top of dry-stacked, field-stone walls that seemed to weave through the woods for miles. I never knew why they were there nor was I curious. They were simply fun to walk on. I later learned that they were once border fences for cow pastures in the east end of Woonsocket, R.I., now overtaken by neighborhoods and a few patches of maple and oak. The walls are badly dilapidated and breached. The stones have become more and more disorganized through the years, and their purpose has been reduced to a mere silent witness to a time forgotten.
I love stone. I love all the shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. I even love the smell that is produced when you bang two rocks together. The uses of stone are endless. God used it as the foundational material for our planet, and as his image bearers, we follow suit and use it for nearly every facet of life: dwelling structures such as homes and temples, property markers, grave stones, walls, bridges, roads, tools, jewelry, and the list goes on.
In God’s wisdom and artistry, he has chosen to use stone as a metaphor throughout Scripture for who he is, who we are, and our purpose. There is so much in 1 Peter 2:4-5, but I would simply like to focus on Peter’s identification of Christians as ‘living stones.’ Think about that metaphor for moment. We are stones that are living — not cold dead material, but living, breathing, personal stones that make up the ‘spiritual house’ in which God delights to dwell. We live, move, and have our being in Jesus Christ, ‘the living stone rejected by men.’
Building Bridges, Crossing Boundaries
Jesus is the name that will be known by every tribe, tongue, and nation. His kingdom is transnational. Boundary markers and walls cannot stop it. As I watched the video below, I pondered how the Lord puts us together and uses us to expand his kingdom to new territory. In his plan, God the master builder uses his living stones to reach cold dead stones from all over the world. As the church, we are multiethnic and multicultural–all colors, shapes, and sizes. All of us are carefully placed, interdependent, bearing the load together. None are insignificant. Each of us has an important role in missions to cross barriers and reach those who are lost that they may know the Living Stone who died to reach them.