Fishers of Native Men

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For generations, fishing has been a primary means of supporting and sustaining the Makah Indian Nation, who makes Neah Bay their home. Located at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the town of approximately 900 people is situated on one of the most remote and breathtaking coastlines in all of Washington. Fishing prowess is a source of great pride to the Makah tribal members which is borne out not only in their cultural stories but also in the incredible artistic representations of their tribal history. 

Vicar Ben Maxson knows a thing or two about fishing. For Ben, fishing is not just a cultural or casual thing; it is also the family business. In fact, when Ben is not spending time with his wife, Natalie, and their amazing brood of children or shepherding his flock at Makah Lutheran Church, he can be found manning one of several charter fishing vessels that are part of the family fleet. On a recent trip to Neah Bay, it was fun for me to see the excitement of one of Ben’s young boys as we headed off to the docks to fish on the Puget Sound. That young man has fishing in his blood… just like his parents! 

In Matthew 4:18-20 Jesus called his first disciples, Simon and Andrew, from the shores of the Sea of Galilea saying to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Scripture tells us, “At once, they left their nets and followed him.”  Without hesitation, they followed, and their lives were changed forever. 

In much the same way, on the seas of the Pacific Northwest, Ben answered God’s call to follow Him and serve the Native people of Neah Bay. This past fall Ben entered the seminary with the goal of becoming an ordained pastor serving at Makah Lutheran Church. 

Ben’s transition from charter fishing captain to pastoral leader has been smooth and rich with opportunities. Ministry to the Makah people is growing and evolving, and his days are rewarding and full. God’s grace sustains him as he manages to balance his time between family, ministry, school, and fishing. 

Your generous support of Lutheran Indian Ministries is providing Ben with the opportunity to serve the Lord and minister to the people of the Makah Nation – particularly the youth! 

Ben loves kids! As a father of 6, he knows the importance of being a good father and good shepherd to his family and a great example to the community. He has a special heart for the young people of Neah Bay, and his youth ministry is the part of his job that excites him the most. 

Like so many Native communities, Neah Bay has issues with sexual and physical abuse, drugs, alcohol, and suicide, especially among its young people.  For this reason, Ben encourages the young people through music, Bible study, and works to create a safe place where they can grow in the love of Christ and where healing can begin with them and make an impact on future generations. 

For more than 20 years, your gifts have provided the congregation of Makah Lutheran Church and the community of Neah Bay with Christian leadership. Your continued support today, with a gift to Lutheran Indian Ministries, helps to continue that legacy and provides Ben with the kind of encouragement he needs to keep going when his busy schedule seems overwhelming.  

Standing by the shores of Neah Bay, Ben boldly and courageously answered God’s call to ministry. He said yes to transitioning from a fisherman to a fisher of men. I am asking you, today to boldly and courageously say yes to this important call of commitment to Native ministry and make a gift to Lutheran Indian Ministries in support of programs and ministry like Ben’s. 

Ben said yes when God said, “Follow me,” and his life has never been the same.  Your "yes" will change the lives of young Native people for eternity. 

Thank you for your prayers and your support of Lutheran Indian Ministries.

May the Lord bless and keep you always.

In Him.

Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee)
Executive Director


P.S. As we approach Lent, may we be reminded of the greatest love of all – God’s sacrificial love for ALL people seen on the cross.  Thank you for your sacrificial gift to support Lutheran Indian Ministries.

Your gift today affirms that Jesus was born for all, including our Native American brothers and sisters.  Thank you!

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