“I work with a lot of broken people,” Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq) explained. “They have, what we call, wounds of the heart put there by previous abuse and addiction. I’ve found that, more than anything, they want a chance to tell their story. So, it’s important to ask the right questions and then stop talking and just listen.”
During a recent visit to Haskell Indian Nations University, Rick utilized this simple process and the result changed a family.
In the wake of a suicide on campus, Rick and Bob Prue (Rosebud Sioux) were focusing on helping the students through their grief and confusion. But it was after one of those sessions that Rick happened upon a woman hanging out at the LIGHT House. She was a regular, attending Bible studies and working with the students, but not a student herself. She and Rick began talk about life – simple, small talk.
“She’s a single mom with a young child, and on the outside, she really seems to have it all together,” Rick said. “But when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you notice things. You see patterns in lifestyles, and I could tell there was something she wasn’t saying.”
So, Rick did what Rick does: he asked questions, he listened, and he let the Holy Spirit work in their conversation.
In a matter of minutes, the woman opened up and shared that she was having trouble with her boyfriend, and her son had recently told her that he was afraid of the man.
Rick explained: “She said it in passing, that her son was afraid, and continued with her story, but I stopped her and told her to repeat what she had just said.”
The woman repeated the comment that her son was scared, paused, and began crying. She, herself, had grown up with abusive men in her life, and now she was putting her son – the one person she wanted most in the world to protect – in danger.
“I don’t know what you just did,” she remarked to Rick, “but wow! Thank you for helping me realize how bad this situation is for me and my son! And… how can I learn to do that?”
It turns out, this woman is a therapist! Rick told her about LIM’s Sacred Ground program and how the LIGHT House would be interested in having her help when she felt settled and ready. Then, he put her in contact with Bob’s wife, Deon, to make sure she had support in the days and weeks ahead.
God’s timing is always perfect! This woman didn’t show up to get help for herself; she came to help the students. But God put the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
“Things are really falling into place at Haskell,” Rick told us. “There are amazing people coming out of the college and the community who have a heart for Native peoples, and are seeing the amazing work Bob, Deon, and Bill Paris are doing to guide the next generation of Native leaders to Christ, and they want to be a part of it. But the even more amazing thing is that this is happening at all of our locations!”
In Neah Bay, Washington, Vicar Ben Maxson had 140 people at his Easter service. (FYI: There are only 850 people in Neah Bay!) And even more showed up the following Sunday. Have you ever seen a church fuller the Sunday after Easter? The Holy Spirit is at work among the Makah people.
In Phoenix, Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau) and Rick baptized 14 adults in one day in the Saguaro Lake, and his most recent Sunday Bible study had 50 people! All these men and women were homeless and are finding their way, with Kevin’s help and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Kevin and Rick also finished Phoenix’s first Sacred Grounds workshop with nine participants. Don’t forget – Kevin has only been in Phoenix 8 months! God is guiding the Phoenix ministry!
Moving further north, Nathan and Sarah Milan, and their four children, are RV-ing their way to Fairbanks to start our new chapter at the Mission Training Center. Along the way, they’ve unexpectedly met numerous people with connections to ministry in Alaska. God is paving their way to bring His grace to Alaska Natives.
And in Kotzebue, Alaska, Rick’s hometown, people are hungry for healing and for Jesus. At a recent Southcentral Beauty for Ashes training (the basis of our Sacred Ground), more than 25 Kotzebue Natives participated in the ALET training to become Beauty for Ashes leaders themselves and bring the program back to their home.
“That is the biggest turnout we have ever had from any one region,” Rick exclaimed. “I get emotional when I think about how far my home has come from when I was a child growing up there. There’s hope again!”
Through his tears, Rick explained, “I have been praying for Kotzebue for 15 years. I love my people, but I also prayed, ‘God use me to help people, but just don’t send me back to Kotzebue.’” He chuckled and continued, “God knows what he’s doing and his timing is perfect, and if we are obedient and faithful, His Will will be done. He sent me back to Kotzebue when I was ready, and when He was ready, so I could see the miraculous work He is doing with my people. I am daily overwhelmed with thankfulness and awe for what He is doing for Native peoples and that he allows me to help!”
God is moving, lives are being changed in our country, and Lutheran Indian Ministries is blessed to be a leader in the field of Native ministry. We can’t wait to see what else God is going to do and we are ready to work alongside Him! Thanks for coming with us on this journey!