Impacting Native American CommunitiesBy Sandy Anderson, Missionary, American Indian Field
A partnership on the American Indian Field with Disciple Nations Alliance is an example of discipleship that is now impacting Native American communities in Arizona. Through it, we as missionaries are learning and passing along the things that God is teaching us as we continue our journeys with Him.
DNA emphasizes following Christ’s example of ministry to the whole person, not separating the “spiritual” and “secular” parts of our lives. Another emphasis of DNA is to compare the biblical worldview with the prevailing worldview of our own cultures and the cultures around us. Native American communities (like many communities) usually have several churches that have been there for years, and yet, the family and community structures continue to be marked significantly by brokenness.
In October and November of last year, Scott Allen and Dwight Vogt of DNA helped present training sessions in Sells, Arizona, where missionaries and Tohono O’odham believers were encouraged and challenged by the teachings regarding the tendency so prevalent in our societies today to separate our lives into the “spiritual” and the “secular.” Two ladies in particular were encouraged and further challenged that what they do daily as they love and care for their grandchildren and other children and youth in their community mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally is a vital part of their ministry and most definitely does not take place only on Sundays or only within the four walls of their church.
Last fall, Dwight also joined my husband, LeRoy, and me on a trip to Kirtland, New Mexico, and met with missionaries and Native American believers from that community. Out of that time of learning and fellowship, Chris and Randy Amberman and a couple of the community pastors have started meeting together for prayer and fellowship and to plan ways the body of Christ can reach out to their community. One of the results was that several of the churches in the community worked together to organize the first-ever community Easter sunrise service in Kirtland. At that service, a couple of people began their journey as believers in Christ. These churches continue to look for ways to serve their community together.
Last spring, the staff at Southwest Indian Ministries Center spent several chapels on some of the DNA lessons, learning and being challenged to minister in wholistic ways and to look for the underlying worldview principles from which behaviors, problems, and issues in families and communities stem. This training is helping us focus on looking for the roots of beliefs and values that cause the visible fruits of behaviors and problems. Then, together with Native American brothers and sisters in Christ, we are searching for and finding the biblical answers to those issues.
ACT: As we on the American Indian Field learn and grow, I encourage you to join us on this journey that is impacting our ministries. Disciple Nations Alliance has recently launched an online opportunity to join with others around the globe through Coram Deo: A School for Discipling Nations.