“Beloved, let us love one another,
for love is from God and whoever loves
has been born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7
February is traditionally known as the month for lovers. Valentine’s Day, celebrated today, February 14th, has become the international day when we express our love for one another.
It’s a superficial holiday.
Immediately after New Year’s Day, I watch as retailers stock their shelves with cards and candy for Valentine’s Day. I see ads for floral shops and jewelers who compete for the tangible ways we express our love for one another.
Planning to eat out tonight? I hope you made your reservations early!
But today is also the first day of Lent. Lent, of course, is a time of sacrifice, when we reflect on the ultimate, and only genuine, expression of love any of us will ever need: the love of God as expressed by the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Nothing this Valentine’s Day can ever top the gift of grace and sacrifice given for our benefit by a God who loves us unconditionally.
However, for most of our Native American brothers and sisters, the idea of unconditional love does not exist. In fact, many have never felt the security unconditional love brings.
1 John 4:21 tells us, “whoever loves God must also love his brother.” But that isn’t what Native peoples were taught. The boarding school experience, that resulted in rampant historic trauma, addiction, and social suffering, seems an odd way to say, “I love you, brother.”
It was Captain Richard H. Pratt, in 1879, who first uttered the phrase “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” This mantra became the justification for the assimilation methods used at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a school my grandfather attended, and others throughout the United States and Canada. The majority of these schools were run by churches, but the unconditional love of Christ was overshadowed by man’s sinful ways.
My ancestors were taught God doesn’t love “Indian savages.” Before He would accept us, we first had to reject who we were and become like the white man. Stripped of all we knew, how could the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ ever be heard? Generations later, my Native people still struggle to understand they are loved by God, unconditionally.
Your gifts to Lutheran Indian Ministries help us change that!
When we say God’s love is “unconditional,” we are declaring there is nothing we can do to make him love us more or less. He loves not because of what we are, but because of who He is. This is the message the Lutheran Indian Ministries staff brings to Native people – and it is life changing!
With your help, God’s message of unconditional love for Native peoples is finding its way into some of the most remote places in the United States. We are proclaiming God’s love in the distant villages of Alaska and in the isolated Navajo Chapters of New Mexico. We are announcing God’s grace on a former boarding school campus in Lawrence, Kansas and on the isolated islands of Hawaii. We are declaring His unrestricted mercy on the farthest point of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
And we are excited to share with you, we have added a Lutheran Indian Ministries staff member in Phoenix, Arizona! Arizona has the 2nd largest number of Native people in the U.S. with Phoenix ranking third in the nation for the largest Native population. It is a place of tremendous opportunity. We are so blessed that God has led us there!
In this season of sacrifice, we reflect and remember the sacrifice God made when He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. In that same spirit, I am asking you to kindly consider making a sacrificial gift for the outreach to Native peoples.
Your passion for Native ministry encourages us as we spread the Good News of God’s unconditional love to our Native brothers and sisters. We give thanks to you for your commitment to the work being done through Lutheran Indian Ministries.
May God bless you and keep you always!
Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee)
Lutheran Indian Ministries
P.S. Your gift to Lutheran Indian Ministries today emboldens our efforts to proclaim, disciple, and heal more people in more places. I pray our enclosed Lent devotion booklet will enhance your Lenten journey as you pray for all who have yet to know the unconditional love of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your generous gift today!
Prefer PayPal? Click Here