Longevity. That has been one of my goals throughout my life. When I was five years old, I told my parents I wanted to become a missionary to American Indians, whatever that meant. As I grew in understanding, my desire was to devote my life to something bigger than me, to something meaningful, and, if God allowed, to work among Native Americans. I wanted to give my whole life, not just a few short years. I wanted to watch kids grow up, and be involved in the lives of people year after year. And now, by the grace of God, I am seeing that come to pass. Many times, during the most difficult years at Indian Bible College, I felt like quitting. But as I considered the options, there was nothing else I wanted to do in this entire world, and I still believe God had called me to serve Him here.

And so, I am still here. Now after so many years at IBC, I am enjoying seeing some of the “fruit” that has resulted from the relationships I had in New Mexico starting in 1982.

Do you remember Nanette from Broken Arrow Bible Ranch? God privileged me to be the answer to her prayer in providing a ride to church, and in helping her grow in her faith. For 10 years, till I moved to Flagstaff, we spent a lot of time together. We have continued to stay in touch after I moved. She married Dino and they had two boys. They have been serving with NAIM (North American Indigenous Ministries)
at Broken Arrow Bible Ranch, Dino and Nanette have walked faithful with the Lord.

They homeschooled their boys throughout most of Butler family August 2021 their schooling. Dino is a musician and has helped develop numerous Native musicians over the years. Nanette is still faithfully teaching a women’s Bible study in the off-season. Both Dino and Nanette minister to camp staff throughout the year.

This year, their oldest son is attending Indian Bible College. He calls me Auntie Marty, one of the greatest honors I could enjoy. It has been rewarding, exciting, and gratifying to see the man of God Josiah is becoming.

Then there’s Ruth (not her real name). Though this relationship doesn’t go back quite as far, I have known her family for close to 30 years and had the privilege of working with her older sister as a Spiritual Formation mentor.

In addition to her sister, Ruth’s father and mother both graduated from IBC. I was honored to provide piano lessons for her mother when she was a student. I watched with interest as Ruth grew up.

As believing Navajos, Ruth’s family is unique. They are not afraid of death. If you know anything about Navajo culture, you know that verse in Hebrews 2:15, which talks about Christ delivering those who are enslaved to fear of death all their lives, was written particularly for them. In traditional Navajo, the dead are never to be spoken of again by name after they die, and even to mention the possibility of dying is to curse the person you are talking to and is sometimes thought to cause their death. If a person dies in the home, the house is to be abandoned or burned to the ground. Death remains a source of terror and an unmentionable mystery.

Ruth’s family works in the mortuary at Tuba City. Yep. The mortuary. They prepare bodies for funerals. They transport corpses from one area to another. They bury the dead. And this year has been marked by a lot of death. The family has known a lot of stress and sorrow. They could use your prayers. It has been my honor to serve as Ruth’s life coach this semester. She has openly shared her family’s struggles as they stand against the culture around them.

Thank you for partnering with me all these years and enabling me to persevere over the long haul.

At this Christmas season, I thank God for His longsuffering patience. Not just over the course of one short lifetime, but for all eternity He endures and faithfully, patiently loves us. He created us. He became human to die in our stead. May you be blessed this Christmas as we celebrate His gift of life for us.

Gratefully,

Martha Gushee