Giving in Light of the Reality of Advent

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A Navajo woman with her sheep circa 1920 credit photograph by william pennington western history genealogy dept denver public library via library of congress

‘Tis the season when we celebrate the Advent of the Good Shepherd. He was born into lowly conditions among people who had nothing according to our worldly standards. Recall how Mary and Joseph remained outside with the livestock as they awaited the first and greatest Gift of Christmas. Remember as well the shepherds outside in the fields who made haste to go “see this thing that has happened” (Lk 2:10).

Fast forward two millennia. According to predictions, Americans will individually spend nearly $800 dollars on Christmas gifts this year. On the eve of Black Friday, scores of people will literally camp out in front of stores anxiously waiting to get the best deals on the latest and greatest the market has to offer. They are striving and persevering to get someone the best gift. That’s determination.

In light of the reality of Christmas, how determined are we to get that Gift to others? Is our zeal to the spread the free gift of eternal life greater than the materialistic impulses that dominate this season?  (Find comfort, as long as you keep repeating to yourself, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” while you rack up credit card debt, you are not a materialist.)

We are earnestly striving to fulfill the Great Commission in Native America as we look to the Second Advent. We want to bring lost sheep to the Shepherd by training future Native shepherds at the Mokahum Ministry Center. We are praying for a support-team who shares our determination to see Jesus glorified among Native American/First Nations peoples. Is that you? Will you persevere with us?

The great news is that you don’t have to camp out in front of our house to be a part of what we are doing. Just give us a call. Text us. Email us. Skype with us. Go online to MTW.org.  Go to our Contact Us page for more information. Let’s talk. Let’s get together.

To learn more about the best way to Give, click here.

 

 

A Blessed Burden

New Opportunities
Years ago I was given an open invitation to speak at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, by my former professor, Dr. Elias Medeiros. While teaching in Orlando one summer, the Lord used him in a big way to get me onto the mission field. This past October, I took him up on his offer to teach in his missions class. What a privilege to teach in his class on a subject we love so much! We also were able to speak at a lunch the next day on campus. [excerpt from Lennox Letters Fall Report 2016 newsletter. Click here to read the full newsletter.]

I remember my first day of Missions class in seminary. It was one of those week-intensive courses during the summer with a visiting professor. That year RTS Orlando invited Dr. Elias Medeiros from the Jackson campus to teach us everything we needed to know in five fast days. For many of us, this class was the most memorable, and for me in particular, the most life-changing.

On the first day I realized that I couldn’t enjoy this class without Regina. I told Regina that she would have break from the kids at home and sit in on the class for at least one session. Regina and I met in Bible college, and missions was the original passion that drove us there, but it seemed like a distant memory at this stage in our lives.

Dr. Medeiros gave us four eight-hour days of preaching through missional passages of Scripture (I was not exaggerating about being taught everything we needed to know). On the fifth day we took a field trip to the largest mosque in Orlando. By the time we got to the mosque and parked the cars, Dr. Medeiros was already making friends and giving out gospel tracts in the parking lot. He is the real deal.

During that unforgettable week, the Lord reminded me of why I started out in went to Bible college in the first place. I wanted to be a missionary. Serving on church staff was a good experience in many ways, but my heart was always longing to serve as a missionary. There was a reason I kept bringing my youth group to Cherokee, NC every year. The Lord blessed me with that burden to serve among Native American/First Nations peoples. He has been faithful to give us the desires of our hearts, and he will do the same for you.

To help us serve among Native American/First Nations people, click here to GIVE.

To talk with or contact Patrick and Regina, click here.

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

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

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Jonathan Edwards (1703 -1758), Puritan pastor and missionary to the Mohawk and Mohican Indians, and author of The Life and Diary of David Brainerd

Are the best days behind us? Have we missed out on a golden age of missions to Native America? The history of missions to Indigenous peoples of North America is extremely complicated with much to rejoice and lament about.  One particular lamentable observation came from the revered Jonathan Edwards in the early 18th century while reflecting on his predecessors. He said, “The English of Massachusetts were too interested in fixing the Indians…than giving them the gospel.” How true that was then, and sadly, that sentiment was an underlying motivation for many churches all throughout the history of missions in the U.S. And where has that actually brought us?

Why bother?

I’ve been reading Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life lately. It is truly one of those books that makes you want to pray. Really. I have been recognizing my own personal shortcomings in prayer. One thing in particular that Miller points out is that many of us have become cynical regarding prayer. After pondering that idea, it hit me. I realized that I was able to identify something I have been sensing over the years regarding a common attitude toward Native American missions. I just could not put a name on it, but now it is clear — cynicism.

Too often when I bring up the topic of Native American missions, I continually hear the predictable mentions of casinos, animism, alcoholism, and government handouts. When folks hear of the plagues in Native America such as alcoholism, addictions, violence, and suicide, they are so quick to attribute it all to government handouts that are keeping Native Americans lazy, which in turn causes them to drink because of all the time on their hands, and so goes the vicious cycle.

With that as the accepted backdrop, the shrewd potential donor would ask, “What is the point in sending missionaries to Native America? They are not really poor, just lazy.” I don’t have enough space to address that position, but if I am reading the tone correctly, it seems that many Christians simply have become cynical regarding Native American missions. Why do we keep giving to them? Is it really helping? We will never fix them.

Then there others who, although seemingly hopeful, speak very fondly of a short-term mission trip to a reservation where they helped build a porch, paint a house, or met some other material need. I hear those stories again and again, and I rejoice with them.

As much as I wholeheartedly believe in those outreach efforts, I am afraid that that is all those people imagine Native American missions to be about. I am proposing that they, too, are affected by cynicism without knowing it. They don’t really think there is anything else to do but to ease the pain in Indian Country with mercy ministry efforts. Is it that these folks don’t really expect anything more out of Native Americans other than to be passive recipients of a generous church group?

Let’s fix our perspectives

How about this? Let’s stop trying to “fix” people. Let us not be condescending or paternalistic. Let’s come along side our Native American brothers and sisters and walk with them. Let’s expect great things from the Native Christian church. Is it possible that such a suffering people empowered by grace can display and proclaim God’s kingdom in ways that we have not witnessed in a long time? Let’s believe that God can heal the brokenness in Native America.  Let’s believe that the Native Christian church can strengthen the rest of the body of Christ and teach us something about forgiveness and perseverance. Let’s actually believe that the best years are ahead of us starting today.

To learn more about how can help serve Native America, click Five Things You Can Do.

To learn how best to give to our mission and support us, click GIVING.

Footnotes:

*Source: Jonathan Edwards DVD series by Dr. Stephon Nichols, Ligonier Ministries.

**Tribal sponsored sign in the Crow Nation. Source: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

Welcome to My Dream World!

Campaigning for the Kingdom

All the big Christian para-church ministries are doing it, so why can’t we? You know, ask for money? And there is nothing wrong with that. They need money to run their ministries that provide us with those edifying goods, services, and well…ministry. Aside from selling products, a common strategy for ministries to get money is to offer free stuff. Just call the toll-free number, give your name, address, and phone number and receive your free gift. Shortly afterwards, you will receive an appeal letter and follow-up phone call asking if you would like to partner with the ministry. Many of your favorite ministries have a whole team of callers dialing up prospective ministry partners. Again, nothing wrong with that. That’s just how it works…and it does work.

Et Tu Reginae?

IMG_20151130_115302So what about us? We don’t have a radio show or podcast. We don’t have a catalog full of various teaching media. No national or regional conferences. What we do will never be available for public consumption. We are missionaries. We are the night callers. We raise our funds by asking people like you to support us so we can go to minister to other people. Aside from chocolates at our display table, you don’t get free stuff, only the satisfaction of giving so others can benefit. *Full disclosure, we gave away free DVDs at a TGC conference once, but not much response.

Welcome to My Dream World!

Classic scene from The Truman Show (1988)

Classic scene from The Truman Show (1988)

I remember a couple of years ago when I had a conversation with a pastor about our decision to go to the mission field. He told me that I should be a pastor of a church. With all sincerity, he proceeded to tell me how bad the economy was, that I was not a fundraiser, and how I was living in a dream world. The funny thing was, he was right on all three counts. It’s true, the economy is bad, I am not a “fundraiser,” and yes, I am dreaming.

I know that the economy is not what we want it to be, but I also know that next Saturday morning, like always, I will be watching my favorite shows on my local listener-supported PBS station. People will be buying their designer coffee at a local coffee shop. Next November we will have a new president-elect promising to turn the economy around, and our favorite ministries will be doing what they always do. They will all get their funding.

Native Girl on switch boardAs you read this, I hope you will consider dreaming with us and supporting this missionary family. Help us answer our call to serve Native America at the Mokahum Ministry Center in Cass Lake, MN. You don’t have to give a lot, just something regular we can count on. We hope you would dare to dream with us and see the glory of God displayed in Native America.

To help us get to the mission field and stay there, please visit our Giving page here.

Year-end gifts are great, but to learn how best to give, please read Fair Winds.

If you truly have no money to spare, please read about Five Things You Can Do.

Give us a call. Let’s get together (Actually, we have some money in our budget to buy you dinner, shh).

Also, would you please SHARE this post using the social media buttons at the bottom of this page. Let’s go for at least 200 SHARES!

Until next time…

Back Home Again

We made some new friends while visiting our old stomping grounds at the Ligonier National Conference in Orlando (No more stocking the book store tables).

We made some new friends while visiting our old stomping grounds at the Ligonier National Conference in Orlando (No more stocking the book store tables).

After a busy travel schedule since the beginning of the year, we are home for a while. We’ve been to Maryland, Virginia, Georgia (multiple times), Alabama, and every corner of Florida. We are coming off the road, but we are not resting. There is a lot of following up, re calibrating, and planning our next steps. Pray for wisdom for us.

Back, Forth, and Onward
Our journey has been challenging to say the least, especially with our change of field. Because of that, our budget was increased, and we have lost some significant support due to the economy, which moved us backwards. We are still past the half-way point, but we have slipped behind a few percentage points.

But the Lord is in control, and we are in forward motion again. We are really praying to be 100% by August. We want to be serving in Mokahum by the fall semester. We need 80% by July before we get to Belgium. This is an impossible thing to pray for, but we serve a God who specializes in things thought impossible. Will you pray with us?

 

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. Currently we are working on a special project for Native America together. I will let you know when it is finished.

Here we are with Dr. Richard Pratt and Rob Griffith of Third Millennium Ministries. Dr. Pratt was the keynote speaker at Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church’s annual missions conference. Currently we are working on a special project for Native America together. I will let you know when it is finished.

What do we need?
We need a bigger support team. We need more churches to visit and more people to meet. We need your prayers, but more importantly, we need the answers to those prayers. A significant part of those answers is in the form of pledged support. Without those pledges we don’t get to the field. If you have already given us a special gift, or if you give regularly but have notified us that you plan to continue giving, please consider making an actual pledge. This is essential to our departure.

Click here for a list of Five Things You Can Do to help us.
Click here to learn about the best way to Give.

Will you pray for us?
1. We need a bigger support team. If all our friends gave just $30 per month, we would be packing our bags tomorrow. That is one dollar a day. We are praying for pledges of all kinds: $5, $25, $50, $100, $200, and $400 per month for at least a four-year commitment.

2. Pray for yourself. If you would like to give, but don’t think you can, ask the Lord to make it possible. Are you bold enough? Scripture encourages you to pray that way (Heb 4:16, 10:19). Go for it.

3. Pray for our perseverance as well. It has been a long road so far and there is more to go.

4. Pray for a special project we are working on with Third Millennium

Here is Regina ready to teach the children at Orangewood Presbyterian Church's missions conference. Regina taught the children to sing Amazing Grace in Cherokee playing a ukulele. You should have seen the children how they reverently sang such a beautiful song in such a beautiful language. They actually requested to sing it again -- and we did.

Here is Regina ready to teach the children at Orangewood Presbyterian Church’s missions conference. Regina taught the children to sing Amazing Grace in Cherokee playing a ukulele. You should have seen the children how they reverently sang such a beautiful song in such a beautiful language. They actually requested to sing it again — and we did.

Ministries. We are very excited about it.

Thank you for taking time to read this. The Lord bless you.

This is a picture of us while visiting the Mokahum Ministry Center near Bemidji, MN. We are striving to get there to serve. Please prayerfully consider joining our team.

This is a picture of us while visiting the Mokahum Ministry Center near Bemidji, MN. We are still residing in Florida, but we are striving to get there to serve. Please prayerfully consider joining our team.