Last week, all of our ministry leaders gathered together for a three-day staff meeting. It is a special occasion as everyone shares what is going on in their ministry locations. We laugh, cry, sing praises and pray together. We share in God's Word and we discuss our plans for the coming year and beyond.
We also give thanks for the many ways our supporters have blessed our ministry, making it possible to share the Gospel with Natives across the country and in Hawaii.
More than 30 staff and guests attended this year's retreat. Here are some of the events that brought "Great Joy" during our time together:
We celebrated the baptism of Jorey Wayne Prue, infant son of Bob Prue (Rosebud Sioux) and his wife, Deon.
We came to know Bob and Deon through our Haskell LIGHT Campus Ministry. At our staff meeting, they shared their powerful story of how God set them free from the bondage of sin.
Timothy Yazzie (Navajo) shared his story of how God spoke to him while in federal prison, the lessons he learned in patience and humility and the reassurance he has as a Native man, made in the image of God.
Timothy is a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Navajo, New Mexico, and he has a special relationship with our own Tim Norton.
Rick McCafferty (Inupiat/Cherokee) shared how historical trauma has been passed on within Alaska Native families. His was no exception. God called Rick out of the darkness into His marvelous Light and now is calling him to minister to those whose lives have been affected by violence, abuse and other traumas.
Rick is the manager of the Southcentral Foundation’s Native Men’s Wellness Program. He shared a video from the Foundation's Beauty for Ashes program, a faith-based conference designed to educate and train individuals on how to interact with, work with and respond to those whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence, abuse and neglect.
Other highlights of our time together included praying for our staff and guests, studying biblical themes in Scripture and hearing again and again how God is a God of second chances. He is the One who brings "Beauty out of Ashes."
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Read Deaconess Cathy Benzler's opening devotion shared at the 2015 staff retreat, Unspeakable Joy.