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
We 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 they 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
One 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”
The 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 gospel 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.
As 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:
- What is Jesus already doing in Native America? – Resolve to join Him and be a part of it.
- 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.
MTW Missionaries to Native America/Bemidji, MN