Cross Points 11.6.20

Discipleship Afoot:  Walking in the Moon of Good Berries

There is an old Native American saying that goes: to truly understand a person you must walk a mile in their moccasins (or shoes).  How true this is.  Several from Southern Heights Christian Church got the chance to do just that in 2016, as we worked a week of camp on the “Crow Creek” Lakota Reservation in South Dakota.  It was in the month of June, the Moon of Good Berries.

The ministry of Diamond Willow we served would not be listed technically as a “foreign” mission, but to venture onto a Native American “Indian” reservation is probably more foreign than many places you’d go overseas.  Sam & Pat Dane, Tim & Donna McKeever, Terry & Deb Milton, along with Rexanne Willis and myself, made up the travel team.  As we drove onto the reservation and up the road leading to Diamond Willow, we immediately noticed something – the land is beautiful!  The town of Ft Thompson and the rural location of Diamond Willow are both on the Missouri River, the river is dammed near here and looks more like a large lake, with rolling hills leading into the prairie.  Not far northwest is the largest herd of buffalo in America, used for filming scenes in the movie Dances with Wolves.

Contrast the scenery with the sad reservation environment.  Many of the natives still refuse to live like typical Americans, farming and running businesses, or working for them.  But they are unable to live the “old way” of the plains Indians.  They can no longer roam the land, hunting buffalo, migrating to where-ever the conditions best support them.  Stuck in this no-man’s land of the reservation, they end up becoming depressed and turning to alcohol or drugs.  The children grow up in this environment, experiencing abuse, mental, physical, and sexual, seeing little hope for their future.  Then they settle into this mind-frame and as adults repeat the mistakes of their fathers.

This becomes part of the mission of Diamond Willow.  In addition to introducing them to Christ and his way, they work with the kids through camps and various events, to help them adapt a new way of seeing and thinking.  If they can show them how to cherish the old ways, through Powwows and such things, but instill Christian values that not only speak to them spiritually, but help them have a work ethic to make a living for their families, plus adopt new ways of thinking about drinking, drugs, abuse; this can create a healthy family and cultural environment, and much progress can be made.

We saw in one short week how some of the kids started with jaded attitudes (one young girl told us that “Jesus is dead to me”), and by the end of the week these same kids clung to us, wanting the teaching and activities to continue (including this same young girl).
It’s been a long hard trail over the past 200+ years for natives of this continent.  We pray for the success of ministries like Diamond Willow.  By the way, this ministry is named after the willows that grow in the area, some having diamond shaped segments called “diamond willow,” used by the natives for a variety of things.  The ministry uses it to say: we are with you, wanting to merge Christian values with native values in a way acceptable to God.  Ikce oyate is carved into the wooden plank above the entry to the Diamond Willow property, which means “honor to the people.”  And may they learn to honor the Lord.
Cross Point: “The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold” (Acts 28:2).   Prayers for the ministries in place to help our American natives.  
Posted in
Tagged with

Related Posts