Serving in Native American ministry holds certain challenges at times while being rewarding at the same time, especially when there are dedicated church bodies willing to help. This past Christmas, we presented gifts to more than 145 families with food, quilts, mittens, gloves, caps, scarves and, in some cases, new coats to Native elders, grandparents raising grandchildren and other families experiencing hard times. Women’s groups and quilter societies locally and across the country sent many shoeboxes appropriately marked with age and gender, all filled with new underwear, small toys, men’s flannel shirts and toiletries.
Some might wonder how such small things could be considered great. Let me give you an illustration.
One of the women at the Bible study we hold on the reservation asked us to pray for a tribal elder receiving chemotherapy. We gave her a prayer shawl that a women’s group provided, which included Scripture and a “prayer for comfort.” The elder shared how she wrapped the shawl around her and felt secure, knowing our heavenly Father had His arms around her. Now, each time we see her, she expresses her appreciation for the shawl. We have fostered a relationship with her, which now extends to her family.
During Christmas, we took Julie a quilted comforter and other warm accessories sent from various groups. We knew she also lived with her disabled sister, CiCi, and her brother, Will, so we included gifts for them as well. When we delivered them, Julie was asleep, so we left everything with CiCi. When Julie awoke, she was overjoyed with the quilt and other items, but she thought, “Oh no, my sister deserves these instead of me.”
As she got out of bed and walked into the living room, she saw the gifts and cards we left for CiCi and Will. She was overwhelmed with joy and thanksgiving!
Our Bible study groups are growing. New people attend and are a glad witness to how God’s Word is impacting lives. It is exciting to get phone calls, asking us to come serve communion. This is a huge shift from even a year ago. People realize they are powerless to make changes themselves and look to the cross to bring about change. Our efforts in the next several months will focus on cultivating stronger connections to the youth.
We thank the Lord that He has entrusted us to use our talents serving in this place. We pray that none should perish and that all may come to know His saving grace.
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