“I work with a lot of broken people,” Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq) explained. “They have, what we call, wounds of the heart put there by previous abuse and addiction. I’ve found that, more than anything, they want a chance to tell their story. So, it’s important to ask the right questions and then stop talking and just listen.”
During a recent visit to Haskell Indian Nations University, Rick utilized this simple process and the result changed a family.
In the wake of a suicide on campus, Rick and Bob Prue (Rosebud Sioux) were focusing on helping the students through their grief and confusion. But it was after one of those sessions that Rick happened upon a woman hanging out at the LIGHT House. She was a regular, attending Bible studies and working with the students, but not a student herself. She and Rick began talk about life – simple, small talk.
“She’s a single mom with a young child, and on the outside, she really seems to have it all together,” Rick said. “But when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you notice things. You see patterns in lifestyles, and I could tell there was something she wasn’t saying.”
So, Rick did what Rick does: he asked questions, he listened, and he let the Holy Spirit work in their conversation.
In a matter of minutes, the woman opened up and shared that she was having trouble with her boyfriend, and her son had recently told her that he was afraid of the man.
Rick explained: “She said it in passing, that her son was afraid, and continued with her story, but I stopped her and told her to repeat what she had just said.”
The woman repeated the comment that her son was scared, paused, and began crying. She, herself, had grown up with abusive men in her life, and now she was putting her son – the one person she wanted most in the world to protect – in danger.
“I don’t know what you just did,” she remarked to Rick, “but wow! Thank you for helping me realize how bad this situation is for me and my son! And… how can I learn to do that?”
It turns out, this woman is a therapist! Rick told her about LIM’s Sacred Ground program and how the LIGHT House would be interested in having her help when she felt settled and ready. Then, he put her in contact with Bob’s wife, Deon, to make sure she had support in the days and weeks ahead.
God’s timing is always perfect! This woman didn’t show up to get help for herself; she came to help the students. But God put the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
“Things are really falling into place at Haskell,” Rick told us. “There are amazing people coming out of the college and the community who have a heart for Native peoples, and are seeing the amazing work Bob, Deon, and Bill Paris are doing to guide the next generation of Native leaders to Christ, and they want to be a part of it. But the even more amazing thing is that this is happening at all of our locations!”
In Neah Bay, Washington, Vicar Ben Maxson had 140 people at his Easter service. (FYI: There are only 850 people in Neah Bay!) And even more showed up the following Sunday. Have you ever seen a church fuller the Sunday after Easter? The Holy Spirit is at work among the Makah people.
In Phoenix, Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau) and Rick baptized 14 adults in one day in the Saguaro Lake, and his most recent Sunday Bible study had 50 people! All these men and women were homeless and are finding their way, with Kevin’s help and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Kevin and Rick also finished Phoenix’s first Sacred Grounds workshop with nine participants. Don’t forget – Kevin has only been in Phoenix 8 months! God is guiding the Phoenix ministry!
Moving further north, Nathan and Sarah Milan, and their four children, are RV-ing their way to Fairbanks to start our new chapter at the Mission Training Center. Along the way, they’ve unexpectedly met numerous people with connections to ministry in Alaska. God is paving their way to bring His grace to Alaska Natives.
And in Kotzebue, Alaska, Rick’s hometown, people are hungry for healing and for Jesus. At a recent Southcentral Beauty for Ashes training (the basis of our Sacred Ground), more than 25 Kotzebue Natives participated in the ALET training to become Beauty for Ashes leaders themselves and bring the program back to their home.
“That is the biggest turnout we have ever had from any one region,” Rick exclaimed. “I get emotional when I think about how far my home has come from when I was a child growing up there. There’s hope again!”
Through his tears, Rick explained, “I have been praying for Kotzebue for 15 years. I love my people, but I also prayed, ‘God use me to help people, but just don’t send me back to Kotzebue.’” He chuckled and continued, “God knows what he’s doing and his timing is perfect, and if we are obedient and faithful, His Will will be done. He sent me back to Kotzebue when I was ready, and when He was ready, so I could see the miraculous work He is doing with my people. I am daily overwhelmed with thankfulness and awe for what He is doing for Native peoples and that he allows me to help!”
God is moving, lives are being changed in our country, and Lutheran Indian Ministries is blessed to be a leader in the field of Native ministry. We can’t wait to see what else God is going to do and we are ready to work alongside Him! Thanks for coming with us on this journey!
Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for your love and grace. I am humbled by your love for me. I pray we would all live our lives for you. Our lives and the work we do is nothing compared to what You give freely to those who accept Your Son, Jesus, as Lord and Savior. Father, I pray, you would help all your children learn to listen for You and that you would continue to give us your grace, mercy, and love. I pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Father, we thank you for your grace and love. Sometimes we forget what it is You would want us to do. Jesus gave us many examples and showed us what you want from us, but we don’t always listen. Too often, we are not able to see you working in others and around us because we see with worldly eyes. Help us, Father, to be better listeners and better seers of your Kingdom. I ask all this humbly in the name of Jesus, Amen.
It was amazing to watch "the once homeless give back to the still homeless".
This year, three ministry staff members, Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee), Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau), and Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq) participated in the annuel Native American Fatherhood and Familes Association Conference (NAFFA).
Read more about the conference here: NAFFA Blog
Then read more about Al Pooley, the founder of NAFFA and much of the work we’re doing in Phoenix.
“It’s interesting to work in the daily lives of people,” Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau), ministry leader in Phoenix, related.
If we’ve learned something this summer, it is that Native families and communities want healing.
Newspapers, especially on or near reservations, run story after story of abuse, drug-related crimes, and suicide. Community leaders have had enough. They are tired of losing their children to drugs and suicide, and they know they need to go back to the core problem – healing generational trauma.
You and I know, as believers in Jesus Christ, that the greatest healing we can receive comes from the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father, which is why the mission work you support through LIM is so important. This summer alone, LIM staff has made tremendous breakthroughs in Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, and Kansas!
Vicar Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq/Cherokee) is a leading force in our healing ministry and has been making the rounds this summer.
He began his adventure in Navajo, New Mexico, where he and Pastor Tim Norton went on their Annual Men’s Retreat which is based on the Beauty for Ashes practice of creating a safe space to share stories and support each other.
“These meetings we do can’t be a one time event,” Rick explains. “This is our third year doing it, and we are now really seeing the fruit of our labor. Between the retreats and the daily relationships Tim has with the individuals, we can see the change happening in the hearts of these few Navajo men. It is a long, building process, and it is only by showing up, time after time, that we can build the trust and help the healing process. This was our best retreat yet, and I expect it to keep getting better!”
From Navajo, he traveled to Fairbanks to hang out with the youth at Teen Camp for a couple days before he was off again, this time to his home village, Kotzebue, for the first time in 29 years.
“I avoided going home for almost three decades,” Rick said. “Everytime I thought about home, I could only remember the bad, from the trauma I experienced as a child to the abuse I inflicted as a young adult. I was running away from facing the pain, so finally going home was a big deal.”
While there, Rick spoke to church groups, elders, and other leaders in the community about the help available for Native communities through organizations like LIM. In the evenings, he called together impromptu talking circles. “So many people opened up. They just didn’t want to stop!” Rick explained.
A nurse stated, in one year, she had experienced 17 hangings, seven deaths by gunshots, and multiple deaths of young children. Others shared similar stories and stated, “We need healing, not just another program.”
Another man told how he and his wife left their home because they couldn’t handle the environment in their village. “We made the excuse that we were leaving to find jobs, but really we wanted to start over without the violence. There was no hope for us there. Our villages really need this!”
Rick has scheduled multiple churches to attend the Beauty for Ashes training to help Native villages begin the healing process in a Christian setting.
In between work meetings, Rick made time to stop by the Elder’s Home (Native senior housing). Many of the elders recognized him and were thrilled he was there. “You’ve been gone too long, Ricky,” they told him.
“It was so good to be home,” Rick declared. “And it just goes to show, we all have healing left to do. Being back in Kotzebue was a step in my own healing process that I had been avoiding, and it provided me with a whole new level of understanding for others who might be dealing with the same thing.”
Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Arizona, Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau) had break throughs of his own.
"July 15, 2018, will live in memory as one of the most memorable days of my life, proclaimed Kevin.
On this particular Sunday, Kevin brought together 18 people who have recently entered his life through the work of the Gichi Manidoo Akewe Ministry of Lutheran Indian Ministries. The phrase, Gichi Manidoo Akewe, is Ojibwe for "Putting God First" which is precisely how Kevin does ministry. Together, this group spent the morning praising God and digging deeply into His Word in a room at the NAFFA headquarters (Native American Fatherhood and Families Association).
The group consists of 13 women from the Transitional Living Facility for Sober Living and two Native families, all of whom are working with Kevin to overcome the obstacle that plagues many Native men and women in urban areas, homelessness. But homeless isn’t a problem living in a vacuum. The reasons an individual becomes homeless, generally, come from past abuses, drug use, trauma.
Kevin’s training with NAFFA and Beauty for Ashes equip him to deal with the trauma while he assists them in the more physical methods, like finding stable living arrangements and attaining the necessary government ids needed to attain and hold a full time job.
As our Executive Director, Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee), says, “Our Biblical-based healing ministry sets us apart from other Native organizations. This is our ‘secret sauce.’ Non-Christian Native organizations can counsel and are in tune with Native culture; churches can proclaim the Gospel and disciple, but we are in a unique position to do both, and that is really exciting!”
On top of that, we have you. You are a part of a dedicated group of donors and prayer warriors, backing up our ministry and working together to create an experience for our Native brothers and sisters that provides healing for the heart, where it is really needed.
“The people we meet everyday in the mission field are hungry and hurting and they are ready,” stated Rick McCafferty. “We have a huge job ahead of us, but we have a God who never fails!”
Please continue to keep our ministry staff in your prayers, as well as the Native leaders in hurting communities. Pray that they would see the value of LIM and invite us in to help.
"July 15, 2018, will live in memory as one of the most memorable days of my life."
A strong proclamation from LIM's Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau), currently serving the Native peoples of Phoenix, Arizona.
On this particular Sunday, Kevin brought together 18 people who have recently entered his life through the work of the Gichi Manidoo Akewe Ministry of Lutheran Indian Ministries. The phrase, Gichi Manidoo Akewe, is Ojibwe for "Putting God First" which is precisely how Kevin runs this new branch of outreach. Together, this group spent the morning praising God and digging deeply into His Word in a borrowed room at the NAFFA (Native American Fatherhood and Families Association).