The meme on the page burned my eyes as if someone had poured acid into them. The picture was of Native American children dressed in military-like uniforms. They were posed in front of a classroom building at one of the 60 boarding schools established in the 1880s to force the assimilation Indian children. The mission of these schools: “Kill the Indian – Save the Man.”
At the age of 6, my own grandfather was sent more than 1,000 miles from his Pawnee family to such a school.
These schools, often run by the church, became places where physical and sexual abuse was rampant. Many children died during, or shortly after, their boarding school experience, which led the creator of this meme to write the following words below the picture: “They died not on a cross, but because of it.”
Even the tears flowing from my eyes could not extinguish the burn of seeing that picture and the words associating our Savior’s death and my Native ancestry.
Dear partner in Lutheran Indian Ministries – we have so much work to do!
Native people were taught (and many still believe!) that Jesus and his followers bring sin and death.
But we know, Jesus came to rescue us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. His life, death, and resurrection accomplished this for all of mankind including Native peoples. He did not come to persecute Native people but to save them.
Native peoples need to hear this!
Jesus came to restore us to a right relationship with Him so we might be renewed in the image our Heavenly Father created in us. He did not come to condemn Native culture or cause generations of pain because of his teachings.
Native peoples need to know this!
Jesus came to reassure us that He is with us always, even to the end of the age. Through persecution or despair, Jesus is the hope for ALL people.
Native peoples need to believe this!
At Indian boarding schools, Native children were told of a God who does not love Indians and were rebuked for who they were created to be… Native American children of God.
We can’t undo the past, but with your help, we are changing this story.
As the angel announced on that first Easter morning, Lutheran Indian Ministries proclaims the love of Jesus for our Native brothers and sisters.
We are helping them to heal, pulling them out of the darkness of historic trauma and present-day pain, as we walk with them towards the light of Jesus. Your gifts, in support of this important work, help us to reach more Native people every day.
Because of you, Rick McCafferty (Inupiat) can travel to his home village in Kotzebue, Alaska, to facilitate a week of Sacred Ground sessions for his people; while Kevin Maulson (Lake Superior Chippewa) provides for the everyday needs of homeless Native peoples in Phoenix, Arizona, as he acts as Jesus’ hands and feet.
Your gifts encourage Pastor Tim Norton as he ministers to the people of the Navajo Nation in their own language, and Deacon Bob Prue as he shares a meal and a message with students at Haskell Indian Nations University (which at one time was an Indian boarding school). Your gifts enable Vicar Ben Maxson to work with the youth on the Makah Reservation on the Olympic Peninsula in Neah Bay, Washington.
Your partnership with Lutheran Indian Ministries makes a difference every day!
God has called us to be powerful witnesses to the glory of salvation and the magnificence of the resurrection which is for all of mankind. Halleluiah!!
As you remember his death, celebrate his resurrection, and rejoice in the joy of salvation on Easter Sunday, I am asking you to remember our Native brothers and sisters as they, too, seek the joy found only in our crucified and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Your gift today allows us to take the hand of a Native brother or sister and run with them to the empty tomb where they can hear the angel’s word for themselves, “He is not here; for he is risen!”
There is no greater joy than to look a Native person in the eyes and tell them that Jesus loves them and there is a place in heaven waiting for them.
May God bless you and keep you always.
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!
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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