Greetings to all,
At LIM's fall (2017) meeting of the Board of Directors, the board approved a proposal to expand our ministry footprint into Arizona with a staff member to be based in the Phoenix area.
Because, twenty-two sovereign American Indian communities inhabit Arizona, with total reservation land covering over a quarter of the state. With an estimated 5% of the state’s total population having American Indian ancestry, Arizona has the second largest Native population in the U.S. Phoenix, the sixth largest U.S. city, is located in Maricopa County, where nearly 75,000 American Indian/Alaska Native live. Furthermore, Arizona experienced approximately a 25% population growth from 2000 to 2010.
While there is a significant Lutheran presence in the Phoenix area, no churches are actively engaging in ministry to Native Americans. Lutheran Indian Ministries desires to establish a ministry base in the Phoenix area to accomplish its mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Native American peoples, disciple Native leaders to share the Gospel with their brothers and sisters, and provide resources to assist in the healing of social suffering.
At our spring (2017) LIM board meeting a board member gave me the number of a friend (Gary) who has a former son-in-law who is Native American. I followed up with Gary and together we traveled to a Wisconsin State Correctional facility on the Oneida Reservation in Northern Wisconsin to meet Kevin Maulson.
After visiting with Kevin for several hours, I was thoroughly impressed!
Kevin D. Maulson, is an enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, grew up on the reservation in northern Wisconsin. Kevin left the reservation to attend UW-Milwaukee where he met and married his first wife. Facing financial struggles and with a child on the way, Kevin decided to drop out of college and start his own business. Unfortunately, things did not go well from there.
Over the next five years, Kevin became involved in tribal casinos as an operations auditor. In La Jolla, California, he bought in to a small ATM and check cashing company which exploded into a multi-million-dollar business within three years. Kevin got caught up in the overnight success and the lifestyle his new-found windfall afforded. Little did he realize this overwhelming wealth would contribute to the cause of his second divorce.
With little experience in big business, Kevin made many bad decisions and his successful business quickly began to unravel and eventually became defunct. Desperate to regain his success, Kevin sought another partner to help in his financial woes. When legal battles ensued and large contracts cancelled, Kevin found himself moving back to Wisconsin, with a deferred entry judgment to pay back more than a million dollars to avoid prosecution. Three years into the court order, he was unable to meet the obligations. Sitting on the floor with a gun to his head, Kevin heard a small voice say, “What about your three children?” At that point, Kevin grabbed a Bible and randomly opened it to the book of Job. He saw how God allowed Job to suffer, but what an example of perseverance of faith. Job never gave up or gave in and eventually was blessed even more. This understanding of Job's faith changed Kevin’s way of thinking, but he was not saved.
Subsequently, in 2006 Kevin bought a pawn shop and was held up at gunpoint. The shot narrowly missed him, but hit fireworks which exploded into flames, causing the facility to burn to the ground with a total loss. Kevin knew his life had been spared - once again.
Since Kevin’s mother struggled with alcoholism, his parents divorced when he was young. However, Kevin had seen a miraculous change in his mother’s life and knew she had turned to the Lord. The following Sunday, Kevin went to church with his mother and heard the importance of knowing Jesus. Since then, Kevin has devoted himself to studying the Scriptures and being a follower of Christ.
However, this meant a call to repentance and coming to terms with his past, so Kevin spent two and a half years in prison. Like Joseph in the Old Testament, the Lord looked upon Kevin with favor and the guards allowed him to start holding a Bible study. Within tight constraints, he began discipling men who wanted to become Christ followers and taught them to lead Bible study. During this time, seven people came to know the Lord.
Upon his release from prison in October 2017, Kevin moved back to Arizona where he was recently married to his wife Kathy. We offered Kevin a work stipend as a "consultant" to assess who he was and the opportunity that was available to LIM in Arizona. Over the past several months Kevin has been leading Bible studies on the Gila River Reservation at two Native churches. Kevin can relate to the losses that many Native Americans face. As a rebellious teen, he had his bout with drinking and drugs, and experienced the pain of losing family, as well as his status and wealth. He went from the top of the financial world to the pit of despair. Now as he visits people and looks at the dilapidated homes on the reservations, he sees first the spiritual need to bring light for social and emotional healing to his Native brothers and sisters.
Since Kevin no longer has the captive audience he had while in prison, he has also spent his time meeting with people, building relationships to gain their trust, and developing ministry partners. Kevin has been dialoguing with Lutheran congregations in the Phoenix area to help them reach out to their Native neighbors. He is connecting with Native communities and engaging tribal leaders, trying to establish a place to conduct programs that will bring hope and healing to Native American individuals and their communities.
In addition to receiving Lutheran instruction, Kevin will participate in advanced leader training designed for individuals working with those who are victims of abuse or dealing with addictions. Many on our staff have gone through training with three programs: Beauty for Ashes, Celebrate Recovery and Fatherhood is Sacred and Motherhood is Sacred. These programs will benefit Kevin as he ministers to Native Americans. He has already attended several NAFFA training sessions.
Kevin is an amazing man of God and has already blessed many Native people in the infancy of his ministry.
Today, Kevin officially joins the full-time staff of LIM.
Please join me in welcoming Kevin to our ministry team and please remember to keep him and his work in your prayers.