The pine needles are falling. The wind has picked up. Most days the sky is a beautiful blue and the sun warm in preparation for a potentially frosty night.
As I write this the students and staff who are involved in the spiritual formation process have just returned from the annual kickoff Kampout, this year located near the Grand Canyon. Classes resume on Tuesday. God continues His work in and through the ministries and staff of Indian Bible College, of which I remain a part.
As I am attempting to phase out some of my ministries at IBC and assist in training younger staff to take over, we are grateful to God for providing several new staff members. Three of the four I would like to highlight in this letter are graduates of IBC. All four are attempting to raise support to be able to continue serving at IBC without draining the funds that are not being replenished at a rate to support all of them. Unlike myself, they do not have a wide variety of churches from which to draw support. I have become convinced that support-raising is an even more difficult process now than it was when I first started in 1980. Yep. That long ago, and most of you who started with me are STILL standing behind me. How I praise God for you!
Below this personal letter is an additional page highlighting the four staff members. Would you prayerfully consider being involved in their support and cutting back on mine? They are part of my legacy, and thus, yours as well. Use this link to donate to them, or set up recurring donations.
You may find a graduation photo of two of the four individuals on the IBC website (indianbible.org) as well.
My name is William Axtell, and my tribes are Nez Perce, Spokane, and Makah. In July of 2015, I was praying and asking God what he wanted me to do after high school. I do not know how, but God immediately brought Indian Bible College (IBC) to my mind. I looked up the school on my phone, applied, and 3 weeks later I was accepted. I was
beyond excited, yet scared. My first two years here, I struggled with my identity. I believed that I was junk even though nobody at IBC looked down on me. I was looking down on myself more than anybody. But in my third year at IBC God really came through and I was able to finally see and get a full grasp of my identity in Christ. I was being poured into, I was being discipled, and my senior year I was able to be the disciple-maker. That year I was the Student Body Chaplain and a Spiritual Formation mentor. I mentored two men, and my goal was to not make them more like me but encourage them to be more like Christ. By the grace of God, I graduated and received my Bachelor of Biblical Studies in May of 2022.
After graduation I was given the opportunity to be on the Student Life team, and I am still a part of disciple-making. It is my heart to see young Native men be free from their past trauma and to see them live out their identity in Christ. Student Life has helped me throughout my healing journey, and I am beyond thankful God has given me this opportunity to be a part of Student Life. Now I have the opportunity to come alongside some of these young men on their own healing journeys. As I continue to pour into and serve the students here at IBC, my ultimate goal is not to make students more like me, but rather to help them live in freedom by living out their true identity in Christ.
My name is Irish Noble, and since moving from Colorado in 2022, I have been so blessed by the community at IBC, where I’ve been working as the Director of Communications. I ended up here through a series of events I never would have predicted starting when I was in college. I was about a semester away from graduating from Colorado Christian University with my degree in Global Studies – intending to pursue international missions – when I had to drop out of one of my classes mid-semester and found myself a few credits short of getting my degree. To make up the credits, I found a class to enroll in at the local community college, which happened to have a course on Native American History. It was through this class that I got one of the most distinct nudges I can remember from the Holy Spirit, prompting me to consider engaging with my indigenous neighbors here in the United States. After about four years of thought, prayer, conversation, and some humbling and helpful experiences in young adult and cross-cultural ministry, God opened the door to work at IBC. When I initially took the job, I was most excited about the opportunity to participate in a multi-ethnic Christian community and contribute to a ministry serving college students.
Since then, I’ve found so many other things to be excited about here! In my role as Director of Communications, I have been helping to steward relationships with the school’s financial supporters and volunteers, keeping our website up-to-date, editing our newsletter, writing grants for various projects and funds, helping to plan and host on-campus events, and helping with several special projects such as the Indigenous Voices Journal publication and our on-campus museum exploring the history of Christian missions to Native peoples.
My name is Kelly Johnson, and I am Navajo from Gallup, New Mexico. I came to IBC as a student in the spring semester of 2018 and just graduated with my Bachelor of Biblical Studies with the class of 2023. As a student at IBC, the Lord showed me more than I could have imagined. I not only experienced the grace and truth of His people in a loving way, but learned how to read, apply and communicate His word effectively. Something I did not expect from my time here was learning more about my passions and how they fit into how the Lord has made me. Which is a part of my path to becoming the Learning Resource Center Director.
I started working in the Learning Resource Center (LRC) in the winter of 2020 as a student worker. The Lord eventually called me to pursue the LRC Director role and after long months of praying, I decided to go for it. I joined staff as the LRC Assistant Director at the beginning of this year. As per accreditation, IBC’s head librarian must hold a MLIS degree from an ALA accredited master’s program, so after committing to the role, I began searching for online graduate programs. Excitingly, I was recently accepted into the St. John’s University Graduate Program for my Master of Science in Library and Information Science. I will be completing this fully online and will start in Fall 2023. I can truly say that I have seen God’s fingerprints all over this journey from LRC student worker to where I am now. My desire is to see our people find healing within themselves from Jesus Christ and to be a light to others around them. To see them break free from the bondage that clouds Native America and the world. To choose to walk in freedom with and only through the Lord. I am humbled knowing He has called me to IBC, and I am so excited to see what He has in store.
My name is Brina Lee. I was born in New Mexico and raised in Arizona with both traditional Navajo teachings and influences of the church. I grew up in a home where alcoholism, domestic violence, emotional abuse, and neglect were prevalent. By God’s grace, I was called and protected by Him to undo generations of abuse and live a new life found and promised in Him, and to share this life with others. When I enrolled at IBC, my expectation was to grow and become more like Christ. By God’s word and by God’s people with God’s power, I was transformed. During my time as a student, God challenged me with integrity when selfish pursuits were my only reason for living. God restored my voice when my abuse stole it. God showed me how to serve as a shepherd leader with others when pride was at the forefront. Finally, God taught me the value of correction and encouragement from a body of believers when the fear of failing and rejection plagued me. God is so good and gracious to help me keep growing in these areas.
I am now the school’s Registrar and just recently the Director of Institutional Research. I also serve as a Life Coach and a Spiritual Formation mentor for the female students. At least 40 hours a week, my responsibilities are advising students, helping the school meet accreditation requirements, and leading a small-group counseling known as Mending the Soul with my mentor/friend. I am hoping to pursue my master’s degree in biblical counseling beginning in Fall 2023. My long term desire is to plant house churches on different reservations and provide a safe place for both men and women. I want to share life with my brothers and sisters in Christ alongside a team of disciple-makers. My partnership with IBC prepares me for such a time, including now. It is developing me as a disciple-maker by providing me the opportunity to walk alongside women of different ethnicities and ages while being mentored myself.
To see full-length letters on each of these, go to https://www.indianbible.org/news/support-new-ibc-staff-members/.