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Posts tagged ‘native americans’

You’ve come a long way baby…

When I was a kid they used to have advertisements for cigarettes and although the Marlboro Man was clearly my favorite (if you don’t understand why just google his picture), I still remember the famous slogan for “Virginia Slims.” Launched in 1968 (I was 5 years old), it was one of the most famous advertising campaigns in US history.

“You’ve come a long way” (sometimes with “baby” added at the end) was the provocative tagline for a new, thinner cigarette marketed specifically to women. The phrase became a national catch-phrase overnight.

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The advertising focused on the emerging feminist and the rise of  “the New Woman,” a woman who was independent, self-sufficient, and eager to demonstrate her confidence.

I’m not here to promote cigarettes.  I never smoked and don’t plan to start. Nor do I see myself as a “New Woman.”  But the phrase does come to mind as I contemplate the ten weeks, 7,800 miles and 140 hours spent in my car this summer.

From Louisiana to the Choctaw Reservation in MS.  From MS to the Cheyenne River Reservation in SD. From SD to the Colville Reservation in WA. From WA to the Hoopa Reservation in CA. From CA to the Navajo Reservation in NM. These, with all of the places in between, made for a summer that changed me. I dare say it changed my teams as well as the people we ministered to and who ministered to us.

The teams….Pisgah BC from Forest Hill, North Monroe BC, Twin Bridges BC from Alexandria, Old Saline BC and New Life International Outreach from Woodworth. Good people.  Hard workers.  Dedicated followers of Christ. My friends. 

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There was beauty at every turn.

The real beauty though was found in the people.  Strong, smart, able, broken, filled with joy and sadness…America’s “First Nations” people.  A people loved and desired by God. A people tied to these beautiful lands and to one another.

Then there are the children. For me its all about them. We had plenty of sports and outdoor fun.

There was Bible Study…

…along with singing and dancing in some cases!

There were always crafts for the little ones…

…along with bubbles, sidewalk chalk, face painting, manicures in the salvation colors…

…and snacks for everyone. Some even got a full meal each day!

Each camp ended with an awards ceremony…

…as well as a Family Night.

There is always a great deal of work on everyone’s part in putting all of this together. The teams, the churches we are working with on the reservations, those who contribute gifts, prizes, and sports equipment, those who contribute through prayer and donations…everyone has a part to play.  Allowing God to work before, during and after each of these camps is crucial to how each individual will be impacted.

We even had a couple of construction projects this year. Some of the guys from North Monroe BC built a Noah’s Ark themed swing set for the kids at Cheyenne River and a team of Pisgah men and youth built the front steps and deck on the front of the new church building that is in progress on the Choctaw Reservation. The team from Twin Bridges BC saw the chance to minister to the owner of the motel where we were staying by offering to repair the roof on one of the motel buildings. The owner is from India and is not a Christian but this simple act of kindness opened doors for our team members to minister in ways that only God could have arranged.

Some of the people who work the hardest get the least recognition. They are the cooks for each of our teams. Their job never ends. They cook for the team, they cook for the camp…they never stop cooking! They do an awesome job…sometimes too awesome. I was trying to lose weight and they were cooking like we all needed fattening up!

Joining our brothers and sisters in Christ in worship and fellowship as well as taking time to enjoy one another as a team is all part of the experience. From worship services, to playing games, having poolside devotions, checking out the local scenery, passing out flyers and eating out…we always have a great time and return home with new friends and a desire to return. Lives are always changed when doing this work…especially mine.

I’ve taken a multitude of roads in this ministry and I’ve loved every one.  Yes, I have “Come a long way baby,”  but the most exciting part is knowing that there are always new roads ahead.

The next road leads to Wisconsin in September and then on to the organization of the Christmas shoeboxes. I hope you plan on joining me!

All because two boys…

Happy New Year everyone! I just returned from the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation in Wisconsin where I encountered PLENTY of snow!

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We were all freezing but we still loved it!

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The lakes were already frozen so there was even some “walking on water”.

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Let me introduce these two to you. They are John Phillips and Zeb Mathews. John is a 17 year old Junior at Pineville High School and Zeb is an 18 year old senior, also at Pineville High School. They are members of Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria and they were part of the group that joined me at the Ft. Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana this past summer. These are two outstanding young men. While at Ft. Belknap both of these boys asked me to do a mission project with them during the Christmas holidays.

That is what started a very successful ministry to the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation.

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Twin Bridges Baptist Church in Alexandria, New Hope Baptist Church in Monroe and Harmony Baptist Church in Glenmora all contributed gifts in shoeboxes.

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The Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church advertised an after Christmas luncheon and Christmas party for the people of the reservation. The pastor of the Lac du Flambeau Bible Baptist Church, Bill Earl (a Louisiana man!) and his wife, Bridget went above and beyond by preparing Chicken Sauce Pequante, Boudin and Chicken and Dumplings for the entire community.

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We all helped with the dumplings!

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Then, Sunday after church we headed to the community center and prayed that people would come. We were not dissapointed…the room was full!

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The church got to visit with people they don’t normally get to visit with and the kids enjoyed playing while waiting for the presents.

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The kids had a ball opening their gifts!

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There were plenty of gifts left over so the boys and I loaded up my car and headed out to make deliveries.

I drove while the boys made their way through the snow to knock on doors and deliver gifts to any children in the home.

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The few remaining gifts went to the local shelter.

The boys were cold, their feet were wet and everyone was tired but it was all worth it. So much happened here that may go unnoticed unless I mention it…you see, we so often think of a mission trip and we wonder “how many people got saved?” But, as Pastor Bill Earl said, before you find any evidence of salvation you have to plow the ground and till the soil and plant and water and fertilize…especially amongst the Native American communities.

What happened here is that the church went outside it’s walls. They didn’t ask the people to come to them, they went to the people. They didn’t approach the people with messages and sermons and man made revivals…they offered food and friendship and gifts. They didn’t hit anyone over the head with a Bible…they included a Bible in the shoeboxes as a gift.

God is at work on this reservation. He was before this ministry and He still is. This particular mission was just one of many doors God is opening for fellowship amongst His Native American people and the Body of Christ. It just so happens that this door opened all because two boys expressed a desire to serve.

A Native American Christmas

Native American Christmas Traditions

In the past, winter months were times for story telling and rest. The first Americans believed that as the earth rests so should we.

 Public feasts in any season of the year are of great importance to American Indians. As social events they hold the tribe together. People can meet and talk, with no distractions of work needing to be done, other than the kitchen. Their hearts are warmed by all the activity and hard attitudes soften. Feasts are also a good time for young people to see and meet each other. They break up what would otherwise be a very hard life, filled with the everyday work of staying alive.

 Tribal dances are an important part of American Indian tradition. Participation in these dances sometimes prepares individuals for a task, or adds to the celebration of a particular event. The historical story of the tribe is often seen in the dances — they are very sacred to the Native Americans.

 Many Native American people found that the story of Christmas and Christ’s birth fulfilled tribal prophecies and found the message to be consistent with the truth that was handed down by their ancestors.

 Over time other social customs that were introduced to them by the European missionaries have become adapted to the native cultures and are an integral part of Tribal Christmas traditions today, just as they are in most non-Indian homes.

Christmas Carols

 According to Huron tradition, around 1640-41, a Jesuit missionary priest wrote their first Christmas Carol. The Huron built a small chapel of fir trees and bark in honor of the manger at Bethlehem.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin wrapped His beauty ‘round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh, The angel song rang loud and high:
Jesus, your King is born, Jesus is born, In excelsis gloria.
 

The animals at the manger were the Fox, the Buffalo and the Bear. The Huron also made a traditional tent of skins and their nativity figures were all dressed as Native Americans.

Gifts and Dancing

Many tribes have the custom of a dance on Christmas Eve or Christmas, where gifts are offered at the Manger.

Other gift bringers come at different times of the year, often in the summertime, but the gifts are always a part of American Indian culture. Gifts are appropriate whenever the tribal gathering occasion is social or ceremonial.

 In many other tribes there are many representations of gifts brought to the people.

God’s Gift of Life

 Native Americans believe that all life is a gift from the Creator. They feel that our time on this earth is but a dance and that if you listen to the wind and the sounds of the earth, you realize that there is a song being sung each day.

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