“Sometimes I feel isolated,” the Native student shared. Other young people spoke up, speaking openly about what they experience in the high school where we were meeting. “I look around at all the art and murals and don’t see any Native art,” another student expressed quietly.
A co-worker and I were attending the first of what is planned to be a series of forums called “Indigenous Voices.” This Flagstaff city-wide initiative will attempt to provide a place for local Native people to express their concerns and propose solutions. We heard students express feeling like outcasts, heard stories of racial profiling, and of being stereotyped as stupid drunks. Ouch!
At IBC we have a strong emphasis on community. We desire to live out the truth that the bond we have as brothers and sisters in Jesus is greater and stronger than ethnic or sometimes even biological family ties. We have each other’s backs both as staff and students. As a school we attempt to be sensitive to the unique needs and struggles of Native Americans. We value and respect each individual without condoning unbiblical practices. This makes for a difficult but necessarily unique approach to teaching and demands the cultivation of deep relationships. This is why we have Life Coaching and Spiritual Formation. Our hope is that IBC students would never feel as though they were not valued. We believe in their potential as mature servants of Christ, leaders in their local churches and communities.
Does this relate to Christmas, you ask? I believe it does, actually. When we celebrate Christmas we are remembering when Jesus stepped into this world as part of an ethnic group that had been devastated. Did He wince at the lack of value placed on His earthly people, at the stereotypical jokes that flew around Him from the mouths of Romans? Certainly He knew isolation, not only in the midst those who had conquered his people but also among His own people. When He came to earth He chose not only to identify with His own creation, but with an oppressed people.
Please continue to pray with and for us as we strive to live out the life of service that Jesus modeled when He came to earth as one of us.
Thank you so much for being part of our lives through prayer and financial support. May God grant us new opportunities to live out His life of service this Christmas. I look forward to seeing most of you in person this summer, Lord willing. Until then, may we serve with compassion and respect for every person He brings into our lives.