New Mexico/Navajo

Navajo Summer update 2019

Dear Friends in Christ,

Although the hot weather has not yet abated, for us here in Navajo, the summer is over. The children have gone back to school and the last of our summer volunteers left yesterday. It was a full summer. At the beginning we had our third annual men’s campout with staff member Rick McCafferty, leading “Sacred Ground” a program that helps our men to deal with patterns of abuse, domestic violence, and other destructive attitudes and behaviors. Vicar Rick led the group in Bible studies and sharing their stories, so that the Holy Spirit brings healing in lives impacted by trauma.

The week following the campout, we had a volunteer group from Risen Savior Lutheran in Wichita, KS come to re-roof the fellowship hall. This turned out to be a bigger job than anticipated, because much of the underlayer of plywood was damaged and had to be replaced. But God provided, with extra volunteer help from our congregation, we were able to complete the project in two days!

In July, we hosted Our Savior Lutheran from Tospfield, MA. This is their 5th summer coming to Navajo. Each time they have led V.B.S. and done various other relationship building activities in the evenings (family crafts, s’mores, games, etc.). This year was no different, and the week was a great blessing to our community as 57 children attended, and many adults came in the evenings. The team also worked on a second roof--our guest house where the interns stay--and completed it!

Later in the month we had our Day Camp led by our summer interns Owen Duncan and Josh Ianucelli. The Wagner family from Dixon, NM also helped with the Day Camp. We were further blessed with volunteer help from Rob Meier, a recent college graduate from Omaha, NE who came and stayed a month and helped with various projects around the church. Pictured below are (from left) Josh, Owen, and Rob after they completed the new floor in our large parsonage.

The interns also helped with our new jail ministry. On Fridays we went to the local jail and preached to the inmates. It has been both challenging and rewarding as some prisoners reject the Gospel out of hand, and others are thirsting for it and thank us profusely for coming.

In Christ,
the Norton Family

Please thank God with us for:

  • The Men’s Campout and the Holy Spirit’s work of healing trauma

  • The 57 children who came to V.B.S. and heard the Gospel

  • The volunteers from Wichita, Massachusetts, Omaha, and New Mexico and their dilligent labor

  • The summer interns, that God will continue to shape them as they prepare for public ministry as Pastors in the LCMS.

2019 Easter Update from Navajo

Dear Friends in Christ,

Blessed Eastertide! Although all times of the year are occasions to remember our new birth in Christ, the Easter season is an especially poignant reminder. Pictured above is a baptism of a newborn child that we had earlier this month. Rejoice with us in God’s washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5) of this child and her adoption as God’s child (1 Jn. 3:1).

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Another event that took place this month was a visit from students of Concordia University in Irvine, CA. 11 students and their leader Rev. Jonathan Ruehs spent a week learning about Navajo culture, sharing God’s Word through skits, Bible lessons, and songs, and loving their Navajo neighbors through acts of service. This group did a great job of participating in all aspects of life, and adopting the posture of learners. Together with our church members they butchered a sheep and learned how to make fry bread. It was the first time for any of our visitors to butcher, but they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Of course ministry here is not all sunshine and roses. I had the challenging experience of conducting a funeral for a young man who was murdered just before Easter. Cases like that are times for lament, but at the same time a reminder of what Christ offers to anyone who believes.

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This winter was one of the snowier ones we have experienced here. We even had snow on the 20th of May! The snow didn’t stop our monthly barbeques at church to celebrate God’s gift of life (birthdays). Pictured below is one of our church members Howard Nutlouis, who did not let a little weather get in the way of cooking outdoors.

We are looking forward to another summer filled with opportunities to share the Gospel. Two interns from Concordia, Irvine will be serving at Navajo again. Owen Duncan (returning from last year) and Joshua Ianucelli. We will also be hosting teams from Our Savior’s L.C. Topsfield, MA, and Risen Savior, Wichita, KS.

We are remodeling one of the parsonages in order that visiting teams will have a place to stay, and we plan in the future to use the space as an education facility. We have been blessed with generous donations from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Las Vegas, NM with supplies, and the Texas Red River Zone of the LWML. We are not quite finished, but we hope to have it ready by the time the Our Savior team arrives in July.

Please thank God with us for:

The Baptism of the baby on 5/12/19
The visit of the CUI group, and that God will continue to bless them in their service
The generous donations of building supplies by Immanuel Lutheran the Red River Zone of the LWML.

Happy New Year from Navajo

Dear Friends in Christ,

Merry Christmas, or Blessed St. Stephen’s Day.

As a part of Christmas, for the last two years, we have had confirmation students pack and pass out boxes to elders in the community. This year we don’t have a confirmation class, but we do have young people in the church, and they still passed out boxes, sang carols, and prayed with senior citizens and their families.

passing out boxes to elderly in the navajo community tim norton lutheran indian ministries

At a time of year when it easy to lose sight of God’s gift to us in Christ, these young people put into practice Jesus’ words that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 19:35).

We had a wonderful group of 40 children that worshipped with us on Christmas Eve. Some came with their parents and others came on their own. Many of them returned from activties we had over the summer, like Vacation Bible School.

We had a Christmas program with Angels, Wise Men, and Shepherds. It was a great celebration of Christ’s birth, the good news of great joy for all people.

Earlier in the fall a church, who had previously visited, returned. Trinity Lutheran from Wahaiwa, HI came for 4 days and did devotions and crafts with the families at church. They also shared a little bit of Hawaiian culture with a hula and Hawaiian food.

In between the major events our days are filled with being a part of people’s everyday lives and showing them how God is present through it all. This includes going with them as they haul wood, sporting events (volleyball and basketball), Miss Navajo pageants, kinaldaa (coming of age ceremony for young women), and our main focus of worship and Bible study.

Two more people were baptized this past fall, and for that we praise God.

 

Please thank with us for:

  • The Group from Trinity Lutheran in Wahaiwa, HI and their visit.

  • The Children attending worship and V.B.S. that the seeds of faith would grow

  • The man and his daughter baptized in September.

Happy New Year!
The Norton Family

Christmas Creep (Advent Devotion) - Sunday, December 2

Christmas Creep (Advent Devotion) - Sunday, December 2

All this “Christmas creep” with its joyous festivities can obscure the fact that Advent is similar to Lent; a season of repentance.  In Advent though, it is not repentance because of sin that led to Jesus being crucified, but repentance in preparation for the Lord’s first coming and His return. 

 

Hungry for God

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.

Navajo Ministry

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.

mens retreat navajo rick mccafferty tim norton lutheran indian ministries

“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!”

Alaska Ministry

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!”

community meetings lutheran indian ministries alaska kotzebue anchorage rick mccafferty

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.”

Phoenix Ministry

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).

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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.

The Future

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.