Lutheran Indian Ministries is excited to be growing and reaching more Alaskan Natives in 2016!
Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq) attended the LIM staff retreat last January, as a guest of David Sternbeck, and shared with us the work he had been doing in Anchorage with Alaska Native and American Indian men. Now, we’re thrilled to have him officially on our staff!
His goal: To create and take to villages: a counseling, discipleship, and leadership program that can be managed and grown within the communities by its own people, in order to share the Gospel with Alaskan Natives as well as all of the hope and peace that comes with it.
As a lifelong Inupiaq Eskimo, Rick is connected with his culture and understands personally the “wounds of the heart” that affect his fellow Alaskan natives, including: domestic violence, sexual abuse, and suicide.
Rick worked as a corrections officer in the Alaskan corrections system for 20 years and spent the last few of those years serving as a counselor. His interactions with the inmates stirred a passion to spread the love of Jesus Christ to all people.
In a similar role, for twelve years, Rick has worked with Anchorage’s homeless native men through the Southcentral Foundation’s Native Men’s Wellness Program. Yet again, his interaction with these men in need, reaffirmed his calling to serve Alaska’s rural native communities. A move to serve with us at Lutheran Indian Ministries seemed like a perfect fit.
For programs like Rick’s to succeed, they need to be based on solid relationships. “These people don’t want another program,” Rick explains. “They want a friend. They want someone they know they can rely on and who can help them help their community and their people.”
So while he works on forming the base program, he continues to reach out and build relationships with leaders and organizations in rural communities, like a woman he met in the 300-person village of Tanana.
Known as the “surrogate mother” of the community, she supports the community’s youth, giving them a place to talk about their problems. She encourages them to speak out against the wrong and break the silence that overwhelms most native communities. She is a respected elder in her community, and she, and Rick, know that the work she is doing is crucial to changing the issues within many Native families in Tanana.
“She is truly a hero to the youth in Tanana, and the kids thrive when they are with her,” Rick states. “We need more native people like her, who understand the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ and are willing to handle the sacrifice to share it!”
Rick is currently working through the EIIT program (Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology), an online program run through Concordia Seminary – St. Louis, which leads non-traditional seminary students to LCMS ordination.
We are thrilled to have Rick on staff, and look forward to seeing his ministry grow and thrive in Anchorage!