If you followed the news in recent months, you may have heard or seen these words. Mni Wiconi is Sioux for “Water is life.”
When you see the hashtag “Water is life,” you can safely guess it is referring to the Native American protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
Native People of all Indian Nations flocked to Standing Rock to become water protectors. Their concern is the pipeline will infringe on sacred tribal lands and that it creates the potential for contamination of the fresh, clean water used by the Native American people living in the area. Native Americans know that water is life.
There is no life without water.
At a tiny church on the Navajo Reservation, a member of the Lutheran Indian Ministries staff picks up Ben, a small child of about 7 years old, as he helps him to lean forward over the wooden Baptismal font and begins:
“My friends, Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”
For Ben, this water, used together with the Word of God, is eternal life!
At a campground near Fairbanks, a group of Alaska Native teenagers gather in the cold, shallow waters of Bingle Lake. They form a half circle around Gary, a young Native teen about 15 years old. Gary covers his eyes and bows his head as a member of the Lutheran Indian Ministries staff continues:
“In the last chapter of Mark, our Lord promises, ‘Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.’ And the apostle Peter has written, ‘Baptism now saves you.’”
For Gary, this water, used together with the Word of God, is eternal life!
At a campus ministry building adjacent to Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, Native American students join their friend, Jill, at the kitchen sink, preparing to welcome a new member into God’s family. After pouring water over her head, a member of the Lutheran Indian Ministries staff says:
“Jill, receive the sign of the holy cross both upon your forehead and upon your heart to mark you as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.”
For Jill, this water, used together with the Word of God, is eternal life!
When you partner with Lutheran Indian Ministries, you help us bring baptismal waters and the Word of God to Native peoples.
John 4:1 says: “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
As Christians, we know that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace, through which God creates and strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart.
When you give to Lutheran Indian Ministries, you support our efforts to answer his call and follow his command to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptize Native peoples, and make disciples who will further spread the Gospel to their own people.
Your gift empowers and enables our ministry staff to boldly announce the grace of God to our Native brothers and sisters.
Native people know the importance of rivers and clean water. But, Isaiah 12:3 says, those who believe, “…will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.”
They understand that water is life, but it is our job to help them to understand that baptismal water is eternal life.
Because of partners like you, Native American children of God like Ben, Gary, and Jill can claim the promise of John 7:38: “He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
Praise God! #Jesusislife
May God bless you and keep you always,
Tim Young Eagle
Lutheran Indian Ministries