The young woman stood quietly in the doorway to my office. Shyly she requested permission to interrupt my class work. “Certainly,” I responded, a bit surprised by her appeal. “How may I help you?”

“Well,” she began hesitantly, “I have a problem with my presentation.” I encouraged her to continue. “You see, I said I would do the Hopi/Navajo Land Dispute, and I’m Hopi and at least two of my classmates are very vocal, very opinionated Navajos. And,” she continued hesitantly, “my motives for doing this were all wrong. I wanted some revenge. I wanted them to see what they have done to the Hopi, to let them feel the pain they have caused my people.”

I was beginning to get the picture. This was much more complex than a simple class presentation, and her difficulties arose from a lot more than just not wanting to do a project. This involved spiritual growth, conviction, forgiveness, confidence, truth, prejudice, boldness, and perhaps more. I was humbled. When I asked the students in North American History to take various topics to present to the rest of the class I was thinking how helpful it would be for them to choose something they could relate to, something about their own people that they may not have known previously, or about which they had warped ideas and needed the motivation to do their own research. I had no idea how complicated some of the presentations could become in this particular class environment.

North American History this semester represents more of a challenge than in years past. There are 12 students in the class, representing seven distinct ethnic groups, including one Anglo. Trust me. It is not an easy position to be in, being Anglo in this class. The majority of our topics are on the history of Native America—lots of massacres, stolen property, misunderstandings, bitterness, rage, hopelessness, guilt, violence on both sides, but especially on the side with the biggest guns (that would be the Anglos).
I’ve been encouraged several times to read in the students’ reading reports of their conviction that their own people were as sinful as the conquerors. It is also good to see them wrestle with how the Bible has sometimes been used to justify the abuse of their people and nation. Some are seeing the danger of falling into similar traps if we are not watchful. God is using the stories to raise questions in our minds . .
You can see from the photo on the left that the history class even came up in a game night a few weeks ago. One of the basketball teams chose to call themselves after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Please pray with me for healing of past wounds related to the injustices of our histories. Pray also for a spirit of forgiveness towards fellow class members as well towards the “conquerors.” Pray for spiritual growth as a result of this class for all of us involved, that no presentations would be motivated by a desire to cause harm or to get even, but would represent a sincere desire to get at the truth, to not repeat the mistakes and sins of the past, and to better understand from where we have come.

Whew! That’s a lot to pray for and that’s just one class! Would you also pray for wisdom for me as I choose a topic for my thesis for Columbia International University? I only have a thesis to write in order to complete a master’s degree in Intercultural studies. Lord willing, I will complete that task this next summer.

God bless you as you serve Him in the sphere within which He has placed you. Thank you so much for praying, for giving as He  directs, and for reading my updates every month! I am blessed by you.

Oh yes, by the way, the presentation mentioned above isn’t due till sometime in November so there’s plenty of time to keep
praying for this student in particular.

Martha Gushee