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There Are No Indian Reservations in Heaven

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God’s heart is broken over the spiritual condition of the Native American community. Do you care?

I spent part of this week preaching at my friend Quentin Beard’s church in Sioux Falls, S.D. On Sunday—which happened to be Pentecost—I reminded the congregation that if we really want the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we must have more than just emotionally charged worship, speaking in tongues or miracles of healing. Those things are wonderful, but if we want full-blown Pentecost we must also tear down racial and ethnic barriers.

Later that morning, a tall Native American brother named Joe Marrowbone came to the altar for prayer. He is from the Lakota Sioux tribe, and he wanted the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Within a few moments, he was praying in tongues with his hands raised in the air. He told me later that He feels God will send him to share the gospel on some of the Indian reservations near Sioux Falls.

Joe was especially blessed when I addressed the issue of racism among whites and Native people in his home state. I told the church that when we get to heaven, there will not be a white section, a Hispanic section, a black section or a Native section. “We are all one big family. There are no Indian reservations in heaven,” I said.

Seeing Joe filled with the Spirit was a highlight of my trip. But when I left Sioux Falls, I was burdened about the condition of the Native people in our nation. We have so much unfinished business when it comes to healing the breach that exists between us and our American Indian brothers. Consider these facts:

  • Native Americans have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the United States. The poverty rate is 25 percent. Native people living in Indian country have incomes that are less than half of the general U.S. population.
  • Only 36 percent of males in high-poverty Native American communities have full-time, year-round employment.
  • Nearly 10 percent of all Native families are homeless. The rate of Native homes without electricity is 10 times the national average, and 20 percent of Native households lack running water. The infant mortality rate among Native people is about 300 percent higher than the national average.
  • The poorest county in the United States is the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where the unemployment rate is at a mind-boggling 80 percent. Life expectancy on this reservation is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere, except for Haiti.
  • Rates of violent victimization for both males and females are higher among American Indians than for any other race.
  • From 1999 to 2004, American Indian males in the 15- to 24-year-old age group had the highest suicide rate compared to males of any other racial group.
  • Native American men have been found to be dying at the fastest rate of all people in the United States.

What do those figures say to you? I believe it is an absolute travesty that those of us in the Christian community have not fully acknowledged our forefathers’ role in perpetrating genocide on our Native brothers. And it is pathetic that we have largely ignored this languishing mission field in our own backyard while we spend millions on our tech-savvy megachurches in white suburbs. God forgive us.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter declared from the book of Joel that one sign of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring would be the empowerment of the poorest of the poor. He said, “Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:18, NASB).

Surely Native Americans were on God’s heart when those words were recorded. Yet many of us completely missed the point of Pentecost. We made it about us. We chased after the anointing, the chills, the hype and the charismatic circus—forgetting that the reason we are anointed by the Spirit is to minister to those who need Christ’s healing.

I am praying that the Spirit-filled community will renounce its self-absorbed immaturity and begin to fulfill our true Pentecostal mission. Pray for a spiritual awakening among Native people, both on and off the reservation. Explore ways that you can build bridges of reconciliation. And ask God how you and your church should respond to the needs of Native people.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project(themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is the author of Fearless Daughters of the Bible and other books.

Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Author's Updates

 

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The Fruit of Repentance

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Fruit of Repentance by Ramone Ramero

I am sharing this blogpost with permission from my new friend Ramone Romero, who lives in Japan. His prophetic art and words stir my heart toward the heart of Jesus. You can link to his blog-site Weeping Jeremiahs by clicking on the painting. –Terry M. Wildman

Here is his blog post…

A few weeks ago God gave me a dream at night:

I was in Native American lands. I was in the midst of a forest area, which was dry and like in winter-time. The trees were tall, grey, and had no branches or leaves. It was near to night.

I stopped at a wooden building that was like a shop for Native American souvenirs. The room was empty, however. While there I wanted to meet with the tribal elders. They came in and stood as if in a somewhat semi-circle line, facing me. I was drawn to them in my heart, and they gave their hearts to me and offered to include me in the tribe.

Then I had to go, but I would come back. My heart filled with love for them, and I wanted to come back to them. They had honored me with their love, and I wanted to honor them and love them back.

I was deeply moved by the dream, but didn’t write it down until a few weeks later when God reminded me of it. Again my heart was deeply stirred, so I prayed and asked God what it meant:

“The night is near for America; many who profess My name are as dead trees, as branches that have been removed because they do not abide in My love. Many are seeking ‘revival’ and practice ‘identificational repentance’ for the sake of land, but turn away from practicing My love.

I am sending My servants to repent to Native Americans for the way My people have treated them. Many have visited Native Americans in recent years to repent for past atrocities, but have then left instead of continuing relationship and becoming family with them. Many have repented only for the sake of ‘cleansing the land’ and ‘to bring revival,’ but have not stood with Native Americans in their needs, their troubles, and in their struggle to secure justice in America. In My name, many Christians have come to the house of prayer only for souvenirs – just to ‘get something’ from Natives and then leave them as abandoned and neglected as before.

Do not treat My beloved children as souvenirs!
Do not speak My name to them without giving My love to them!
Abide in My love for them: abide with them!”

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Author's Updates

 

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Out of Respect, Apology Not Accepted

Mark Charles, Navajo

Mark Charles, Navajo

On December 19, 2009 the United States apologized to its Native Peoples—but no one heard it.

Over three hundred million US citizens were apologized for, and don’t even know it.

Nearly five million Native Americans were apologized to, yet only a handful are aware of it.

December 19, 2012 marked the third anniversary of an an “Apology to Native Peoples of the United States” signed by President Obama on December 19, 2009. Among the ironies of this apology, is the fact that it was burried in the US Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 3326; and the fact that it was never announced, publicized or read publicly by either the White House or the 111th Congress.

On this third anniversary I (Terry Wildman) had the privilege, along with a diverse group of citizens, of participating in a public reading of this apology in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

This event was hosted by Mark Charles who lives on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Ft. Defiance Arizona, the son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man. He is a speaker, writer, and consultant, who has been on a journey seeking to understand the complexities of our country’s history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the Nation.

During the gathering he stated, “Reconciliation is never easy, which is why it probably doesn’t happen very much. Reconciliation is not an event encapsulated in a moment of time, its not something you can check off your to-do list; reconciliation starts with a conversation and it ends with a relationship restored.”

“Everybody at some point” he added, “understands the value of a sincere and well timed apology.”

He explained the reason for this gathering, “I felt like every Native person deserved two things, they deserved to know that this apology existed, and they deserved to hear it read from the seat of power of our country.”

I joined with several Native Americans as we read portions of the Defense Appropriations Bill to highlight the irony of such important words being burried in an unrelated document.

Then Mark read the apology, found in section 8113 on page 45, in English, followed in the Annishinabe language by Jim Thorpe, Ojibwe. Ben Stoner, a non-native who has lived among the Navajo for 40 years, read the apology section in the Navajo language.

After this Mark Charles said “I have deep respect for Governor Brownback who spent four years of his time in the Senate … working on this apology and trying to get … substantial language included into a bill that stood on its own, but he was unable to do it … attempt after attempt was turned back … and finally he did what I was told they used to do to get treaties passed … he inserted it into an appropriations bill because it was less likely someone would vote against it.”

All this added up to a conclusion by Mark Charles, “I take all of these things as evidence that our Country was not ready to apologize. An applogy should be sincere, it should be from your heart, and should include some act of repentance or commitment to change … I don’t think this apology does that.”

He then offered this request, spoken with humility and authority,  “Today as a Navajo man standing before you, I want to encourage our Native peoples, to not accept this apology. Not out of bitterness, not out of anger, not out of resentment. But out of respect for ourselves, out of respect for Governor Brownback, out of respect for President Obama, and out of respect for our Nation.

He finished with this thought, “Native peoples deserve a better apology than the one found in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. And Governer Brownback and President Obama deserve the respect, to be given an opportunity to make another apology, one that is more sincere.”

After this and other relevant remarks Mark opened the microphone to others.

I took this opportunity to address the churches of America, the decendants of those believers who, through mission and church organizations, often cooperated with the Government in ways that oppressed Native Peoples. It was their often silent and sometimes verbal consent that emboldened the US Government in its ill conceived policies and practices.

How can we say we are reconciled to God if we haven’t done all that we can to reconcile with our Native Peoples?

Lets break with the past, enter into this conversation, and make a concerted effort to restore relationships.

After all, it is Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” Matthew 5:9.

Shouldn’t his followers be leading the way?

It was an honor to stand with Mark Charles and help communicate this important message to our Native communities and to all the citizens of the United States. Miigwech Bizandowiyeg (thank you for listening).

Mark Charles: http://www.wirelesshogan.com You can watch this entire event on YouTube CLICK HERE 

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Author's Updates

 

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