This morning, we shared our "Don't Give Up" Devotion written by our own Tom Benzler from the Olympic Peninsula. In it, Tom speaks to the hardships that he often sees on the reservations that he and his wife, Cathy, visit: poverty, health issues, depression. And yet, despite their hardships, the elders they minister to are some of the friendliest and joyful people he knows, always willing to sit down and share stories and a cup of coffee.
The reason for their joy: knowing their Savior, Jesus Christ. It is for that reason the Lutheran Indian Ministries exists, but there is so much more we can do.
Julian Brave NoiseCat, writer for the Huffington Post and Native American advocate, wrote an article last summer, 13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots and Casinos, which summed up the issues faced by Native Americans living on reservations. The media clings to the debates over mascots and casinos, while native people are struggling.
Most of the recent headlines about indigenous Americans have had to do with a certain D.C. football team, or a surpassingly dumb Adam Sandler movie, orcasinos of the kind operated by the fictional Ugaya tribe on "House of Cards." And we're not saying these issues don't matter. But beyond the slot machines, the movie sets and the football fields, there are other problems facing Native communities -- insidious, systemic, life-or-death problems; the kinds of problems it takes years and votes and marches to resolve -- that aren't getting nearly as much attention. Read the full article here.
So while we work to share the Gospel, we are also working on the social issues that impact those we are called to serve.
1 John instructs us: "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
And so, we act:
Tom and Cathy Benzler run the Hope House and deliver fresh food and other essentials, like backpacks, to families on the Olympic Peninsula reservations.
Tim Norton is creating an after school art program on the Navajo Nation, where the education system has been under scrutiny.