Lord God, I praise you that you have turned your anger away from me, and you have placed it on your Suffering Servant. Grant me joy this day in knowing that you are my salvation, and you promise comfort. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Merry Christmas, or Blessed St. Stephen’s Day.
As a part of Christmas, for the last two years, we have had confirmation students pack and pass out boxes to elders in the community. This year we don’t have a confirmation class, but we do have young people in the church, and they still passed out boxes, sang carols, and prayed with senior citizens and their families.
At a time of year when it easy to lose sight of God’s gift to us in Christ, these young people put into practice Jesus’ words that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 19:35).
We had a wonderful group of 40 children that worshipped with us on Christmas Eve. Some came with their parents and others came on their own. Many of them returned from activties we had over the summer, like Vacation Bible School.
We had a Christmas program with Angels, Wise Men, and Shepherds. It was a great celebration of Christ’s birth, the good news of great joy for all people.
Earlier in the fall a church, who had previously visited, returned. Trinity Lutheran from Wahaiwa, HI came for 4 days and did devotions and crafts with the families at church. They also shared a little bit of Hawaiian culture with a hula and Hawaiian food.
In between the major events our days are filled with being a part of people’s everyday lives and showing them how God is present through it all. This includes going with them as they haul wood, sporting events (volleyball and basketball), Miss Navajo pageants, kinaldaa (coming of age ceremony for young women), and our main focus of worship and Bible study.
Two more people were baptized this past fall, and for that we praise God.
Please thank with us for:
The Group from Trinity Lutheran in Wahaiwa, HI and their visit.
The Children attending worship and V.B.S. that the seeds of faith would grow
The man and his daughter baptized in September.
Happy New Year!
The Norton Family
If we’ve learned something this summer, it is that Native families and communities want healing.
Newspapers, especially on or near reservations, run story after story of abuse, drug-related crimes, and suicide. Community leaders have had enough. They are tired of losing their children to drugs and suicide, and they know they need to go back to the core problem – healing generational trauma.
You and I know, as believers in Jesus Christ, that the greatest healing we can receive comes from the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father, which is why the mission work you support through LIM is so important. This summer alone, LIM staff has made tremendous breakthroughs in Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, and Kansas!
Vicar Rick McCafferty (Inupiaq/Cherokee) is a leading force in our healing ministry and has been making the rounds this summer.
He began his adventure in Navajo, New Mexico, where he and Pastor Tim Norton went on their Annual Men’s Retreat which is based on the Beauty for Ashes practice of creating a safe space to share stories and support each other.
“These meetings we do can’t be a one time event,” Rick explains. “This is our third year doing it, and we are now really seeing the fruit of our labor. Between the retreats and the daily relationships Tim has with the individuals, we can see the change happening in the hearts of these few Navajo men. It is a long, building process, and it is only by showing up, time after time, that we can build the trust and help the healing process. This was our best retreat yet, and I expect it to keep getting better!”
From Navajo, he traveled to Fairbanks to hang out with the youth at Teen Camp for a couple days before he was off again, this time to his home village, Kotzebue, for the first time in 29 years.
“I avoided going home for almost three decades,” Rick said. “Everytime I thought about home, I could only remember the bad, from the trauma I experienced as a child to the abuse I inflicted as a young adult. I was running away from facing the pain, so finally going home was a big deal.”
While there, Rick spoke to church groups, elders, and other leaders in the community about the help available for Native communities through organizations like LIM. In the evenings, he called together impromptu talking circles. “So many people opened up. They just didn’t want to stop!” Rick explained.
A nurse stated, in one year, she had experienced 17 hangings, seven deaths by gunshots, and multiple deaths of young children. Others shared similar stories and stated, “We need healing, not just another program.”
Another man told how he and his wife left their home because they couldn’t handle the environment in their village. “We made the excuse that we were leaving to find jobs, but really we wanted to start over without the violence. There was no hope for us there. Our villages really need this!”
Rick has scheduled multiple churches to attend the Beauty for Ashes training to help Native villages begin the healing process in a Christian setting.
In between work meetings, Rick made time to stop by the Elder’s Home (Native senior housing). Many of the elders recognized him and were thrilled he was there. “You’ve been gone too long, Ricky,” they told him.
“It was so good to be home,” Rick declared. “And it just goes to show, we all have healing left to do. Being back in Kotzebue was a step in my own healing process that I had been avoiding, and it provided me with a whole new level of understanding for others who might be dealing with the same thing.”
Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Arizona, Kevin Maulson (Lac du Flambeau) had break throughs of his own.
"July 15, 2018, will live in memory as one of the most memorable days of my life, proclaimed Kevin.
On this particular Sunday, Kevin brought together 18 people who have recently entered his life through the work of the Gichi Manidoo Akewe Ministry of Lutheran Indian Ministries. The phrase, Gichi Manidoo Akewe, is Ojibwe for "Putting God First" which is precisely how Kevin does ministry. Together, this group spent the morning praising God and digging deeply into His Word in a room at the NAFFA headquarters (Native American Fatherhood and Families Association).
The group consists of 13 women from the Transitional Living Facility for Sober Living and two Native families, all of whom are working with Kevin to overcome the obstacle that plagues many Native men and women in urban areas, homelessness. But homeless isn’t a problem living in a vacuum. The reasons an individual becomes homeless, generally, come from past abuses, drug use, trauma.
Kevin’s training with NAFFA and Beauty for Ashes equip him to deal with the trauma while he assists them in the more physical methods, like finding stable living arrangements and attaining the necessary government ids needed to attain and hold a full time job.
As our Executive Director, Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee), says, “Our Biblical-based healing ministry sets us apart from other Native organizations. This is our ‘secret sauce.’ Non-Christian Native organizations can counsel and are in tune with Native culture; churches can proclaim the Gospel and disciple, but we are in a unique position to do both, and that is really exciting!”
On top of that, we have you. You are a part of a dedicated group of donors and prayer warriors, backing up our ministry and working together to create an experience for our Native brothers and sisters that provides healing for the heart, where it is really needed.
“The people we meet everyday in the mission field are hungry and hurting and they are ready,” stated Rick McCafferty. “We have a huge job ahead of us, but we have a God who never fails!”
Please continue to keep our ministry staff in your prayers, as well as the Native leaders in hurting communities. Pray that they would see the value of LIM and invite us in to help.
Summer greetings from Navajo.
This year we baptized and confirmed three students the first Sunday of May. There really is nothing better in the work of the Kingdom than to see God claim a child as His own through the waters of Holy Baptism. It was also wonderful to hear the students give witness to their faith, in a public confession and a speech.
The mission trip to Navajo in October of 2017 was unlike any other mission trip in Concordia’s recent history. While there were no national borders crossed, upon arrival the team had entered a “country within a country.” The Navajo Reservation is only a turn off I-40, one of the main arteries of the southwest, but few travelers turn off the interstate to experience the largest Native Indian reservation in the United States, comparable in size to West Virginia.