Our Hope House ministry is a place where we see more and more of Christ’s love expressed toward our Native brothers and sisters. Tom and Cathy Benzler, our staff, explain:
“When we began the Hope House ministry five years ago, we would sometimes hear people ask, ‘Why don’t the Indians just use the local food bank?’ We always reply, ‘Our Native brothers and sisters are our neighbors. They can go to the local food bank, yes, but they won’t receive the message of forgiveness there. They won’t hear that Jesus loves them and that He died for their salvation.’ This ministry is blessed by God in that respect.”
Today, Tom and Cathy are seeing the fruits of their labor, both within the Native community where they serve and among local Christian supporters. Among the Natives, the word has gotten around that the Benzlers minister one-on-one to members of the Lower Elwha Reservation, to the extent that the tribe looks to them for their faithful witness. They hold weekly Bible studies, visit the sick and dying and meet as many needs as they can with the generous gifts they receive from congregations and others.
Recently, Tom and Cathy were invited to a Thrivent Member Appreciation Dinner in their area. They were asked to share what they do as a deacon and a deaconess serving among the Natives. They eagerly agreed to attend, but since the meal was going to be catered, Cathy suggested that Thrivent pay the Natives to cater an Indian Taco meal. As an added treat, Cathy made traditional Cherokee cornmeal cookies.
During dinner with approximately 80 Thrivent members, Cathy and Tom shared what they do through their Hope House ministry, while the Native group of about 25 shared their culture through meal, songs, drumming and dance. Cathy and Tom also presented gifts to the cooks, singers and dancers, as well as to the Thrivent chapter president and board member. Honoring hosts and participants is a long-held Native tradition that the Benzlers incorporate into many of their gatherings.
Everyone left richly blessed, and Cathy and Tom were thankful they were able to introduce one neighbor group to another, thus, bridging the two in Christ’s love.
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