In May of this year, I completed 36 years of ministry among Native Americans, 27 of which have been at Indian Bible College. How grateful I am for the lifelong friends God has blessed me with both in Flagstaff and in New Mexico. Those I left behind when I came to teach at Indian BibleContinue reading December 2018
The San Carlos Apache Reservation is not the place a visitor might anticipate God would raise up a Godly leader for His glory. Butted up against the White Mountain Apache Reservation, east of Phoenix and south of Flagstaff, the San Carlos Apache Reservation instead might inspire a sense of despair. According to recent statistics, theContinue reading November 2018
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 IContinue reading October 2018
Yesterday was our first “Thursday Lunch” of the semester. Johnny Glover provided the meal, driving several hours from Greasewood, Arizona, near Canyon De Chelly on the Navajo Reservation. Johnny is a missionary who cares more for the people around him than he does for his own needs. I’ve met several older single missionary men likeContinue reading September 2018
I was trying to not pay attention to the out-of-tune guitar being played a few feet away as I sat on my cot in the sanctuary of our host church in Pancho Villa, Chihuahua, Mexico. At the same time, I was thinking, “How might I be able to serve this young musician and this church?”
Sorry to be a few days late. It has been an interesting summer thus far. Praise God I was able to finish my class with Columbia International University. It was an exhausting, rewarding, fascinating class and I am grateful to have learned a significant amount of new information. May God us it in my lifeContinue reading July 2018
Reading through my class evaluations a few days ago I encountered one that came from a very angry student. I don’t know if it was just a bad day, but this student caught me completely off guard. If I were to believe what this person wrote, I might as well quit ministry right now.
What an amazing, gracious God we serve! I asked Him specifically to provide the full amount of cash needed to pay for the new property, and He did! Last Wednesday our business manager handed Pioneer Title Agency a check for the full amount we offered the Salvation Army: $675,000! Paid in full! I’m beginning toContinue reading May 2018
The room was darkened to help preserve a sense of security and anonymity, though every voice that spoke was known to the entire group present. This was a closed chapel, open only to a limited number of staff and to full-time students. In keeping with James 5:16, and in order to demonstrate the reality ofContinue reading April 1, 2018
Oh dear! I almost forgot to send you an update! We’ll keep this short!
Two students have dropped music lessons so I am down to 5 music students from the original 7. Personal Finance is going well, for the most part. Introduction to Missions is also going fairly well, as far as I can tell. Wade and I are making some progress in working on the Life Coaching program. We’ve decided to simplify overseeing the students this semester (only covering the basics and Wade and I overseeing all the underclassmen men and women) and reboot the entire program in the fall Lord willing.
Blessed New Year to you! May Jesus Christ be honored through our lives this year as never before, and may He choose to use us for His glory as we seek to serve Him with passion and zeal!
Tomorrow it is back to work. I’ll be preparing to teach Introduction to Missions again, team teaching Personal Finance, and teaching Voice, Piano, and Guitar to 7 students. I may also be working on putting together another Creative Ministry Methods class, but that still remains to be seen.
Music, they say, is the universal language. Unfortunately, it is only such in a very limited sense. Rhythmic patterns, scales, vocal production, what is considered desirable and beautiful, and instrumentation all vary widely from culture to culture.
Music transcends words. It is a language in its own right, but, more than that, an expression of emotion, the unique expression of a specific people. In a sense, music is the fleshing out of our innermost cries and longings. God is the inventor of music (see Job 38:7) and when we make music, we express our likeness to Him.
Fall seems particularly hesitant to settle in this year. I am thankful to be riding the bike to work still, though the darkness may soon be more of a problem than the cold.
Fall is in the air. The students and some of the IBC staff have returned from their annual Kick-off camp out. I haven’t heard reports yet of how that went since I’ve been enjoying time with my brother from Indiana. It’s quite unusual for a relative to visit, so I’m trying to show him as many of the thousands of “sights” that I can during the 3 days he is here.
“He was only 8 years old!” the student exclaimed incredulously in reference to the young boy’s gang-like saunter. The IBC student was sharing about some of the kids she worked with over the summer on her reservation. She told how one day when she was driving the van she used for picking up kids he requested that they stop for a beer and how he talked about his goal in life being to go to jail because that was “cool.” My heart broke to hear how desperately needy these kids were. The IBC student lamented not having training to work with such troubled youth and how she felt like a failure. But I saw her passion for their souls, her love and compassion for kids growing up with no adult role models that were worth emulating, and her ability to empathize because of her background.
Whew! Quick stats:
I drove a total of 8,980 miles this summer and made 50 visits (individual, church, or small group).
By the grace of God I am home safely and taking a little time off before school begins. I’ll be back full-time in the office starting next Tuesday and then leave for staff retreat on Wednesday. First full week will be August 14-18 and classes begin the 27th.
So, I forgot to include any prayer requests in that update last month. Sorry about that!
A brief summary of what I’ve been doing so far is:
- I’ve visited individually with 13 supporters.
- Had 15 different meetings at 9 different churches.
- Put 4,611 miles on the car
I am feeling very blessed by all the gracious people along the way, especially the Kowalskis who continue to put up with me staying in their home, now going into the fourth week . . .
I’m beginning to wonder if I have a sign on my vehicle that says something about being a bird killer!
Yes, I am on the road. I think it was in Oklahoma, maybe, that I encountered a Turkey Vulture that was a little bit too slow flying out of the way as my car barreled down the highway at 70 mph. It spread its wings just a tad late and caught the right side of the car, promptly depositing the contents of its stomach on my wind shield. Eww. Nasty stuff! And then in Tennessee an owl swooped out of the dark forest to my left, flying low, and slammed hard into my right fender. Another dent, but who’s counting at this point? I think the owl sustained a bit more damage . . . Then there was the little bird at the restaurant in Maryland or somewhere. Poor little thing seemed to have a damaged wing and, of course, hopped under my car when I approached. I prayed that God would protect it as I pulled out, and to my relief, it was still intact after I backed out, sitting precariously about where the center of my vehicle had been.
We were on the trail for a second day, about 15 miles from nowhere in any direction when I felt increasing pain on my right side. It was nearly debilitating before I expressed my dilemma to my backpacking companions. Our experienced leader whipped out some Tylenol and Aleve, xplaining the recommended doses, how long they take to take effect, and what the results ought to be. I don’t take drugs, ordinarily, not even Aspirin unless I’m desperate, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I took the drugs, and after resting for a few minutes, we were off again.
As I type this the students and three staff members are on their way home from the ministry trip in Lapwai, Idaho. They’ve made it to Salt Lake City, Utah so far, and are looking forward to being “home” tonight. It has been a long week of ministry for them but I hear God has blessed. He has worked in and through them.
In the predawn light the scene is deceptively peaceful. Another snow storm to shovel through. Sigh. I do enjoy cross country skiing but, the snow starts to get old when one has to keep trudging through several feet to get off the front porch,or make steps up the snow piles on either side of the driveway to heave more snow on the back side. But life goes on. And here, snow doesn’t last long.
The wind was ferocious. The sun had set so I turned my skis back towards the car, across the trackless landscape as quickly as I could, hoping I was moving in approximately the right direction. It was hard to see with snow stinging my face, but the sculptures beneath my feet, the sparkle of flakes in the waning light, were too delicious an aesthetic feast to quit until I had to. What a beautiful evening, and what a blessing to be able to enjoy it!
There was one other person out that evening besides myself, hence the photo.
Blessed New Year to you all! I just returned safely from a wonderful, refreshing visit with my sister and her family (the Ben & Esther Luna family) in Dallas, Texas.
“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!
Darkness is descending on us. I’m sure you’ve noticed. Many ofthe trees are now standing naked in the wind. A pivotal national election looms ominously on the horizon. I must admit I’ve been through a personal storm over the past week or so, at least partly as a result of these events.