Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son. So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: that they know you, the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. John 17: 1-3 The Message
There are over 1100 Native American/First Nations people groups on the North American continent (excluding Mexico). As a denomination, we have barely begun to build relationships with these sovereign Nations within our Nation. When European settlers brought Christianity to this continent, they strongly communicated to the Indigenous people that if they wanted to become believers, they must give up their culture and their identity and become “white.” Confronted with such a choice there was great resistance to what they perceived as “the White Man’s Gospel.” As our friend Huron Claus (CHIEF—Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship) once said, “Native Americans are not unreached people groups; they are mis-reached people.” After 500 years it is estimated that only 2-5% of Indigenous people profess to be believers.
Historically, our government and its representatives have consistently broken treaties and trust with Indigenous Nations. Many atrocities and injustices have been endured, often committed in the name of “Christianity.” Why should they now consider the “religion” of these that have not kept their word? Walls of anger, hurt, and mistrust must be broken down and replaced with trust and acceptance to make way for reconciliation and the message of hope. This takes time; this takes humility. We must be willing to listen, to learn—something we failed to do in the past. It is a two-way street for we need them speaking into our lives.
Reconciliation is long overdue. It is time to reach out to build relationships, to “love our neighbors.” Life among Native peoples is first of all relational. Relationships take time. There must be commitment to friendship for the long haul. We cannot just talk about the love of God, it must be demonstrated, “fleshed out” and tangible.
How Does the Vision Become Reality?
“One Church, One Tribe” For churches and presbyteries and people who have a desire to become involved in building relationships with Native American/First Nations peoples, here is a possible path. “Father…that they may be one, even as We are.” (John 17:11 NASB) God’s purpose for His people: that we become One Church, One Tribe in Him. MNA is committed to this and we invite churches and presbyteries to join hands and begin to take practical steps toward reaching the hope of becoming “One Church, One Tribe.”
Commit to praying for Native Nations across the U.S., Canada, and Alaska.
- Focus prayer on a specific Tribe or Band, learning all you can about them.
- Search your library and the internet to gain insight and information and to listen to the “Native voice.”
- Host seminars for the purpose of preparation and greater understanding.
- Commit to investing in long-term relationships before ever making contact with any people.
- Pray for an opening for contact.
- Pray for a man, woman, couple, family who will commit their lives to a group of people and be willing and prepared to support and encourage them. This step is high priority!
- Consider the possibilities of sending in teams under Tribal authorities/contacts.
- Develop partnership within churches and presbyteries for this venture.
We are asking God to reshape our thinking…
We pray that churches and men and women in our churches will share this vision and begin to seek relationships with Native American/First Nations people and communities across this continent….one person at a time.
We want to facilitate and encourage the development of seminars and curriculum to offer training and insight in this kind of cross-cultural ministry for use in churches, colleges, and seminaries. We are asking God to meet the need for development of materials for discipleship training and the teaching of the doctrines of grace in a non-traditional format, easily adapted to the Native American cultural context.
We encourage you to:
PRAY! There is no way this can be overemphasized, for in prayer the battle is fought and won. Pray…
- for these Nations. Pray for specific Tribes or Bands or communities.
- for the PCA—that we will catch the vision of reconciliation.
- that God will call out men and women to bring this vision to life.
- that God will lead and provide what is needed to transform the vision into reality.
- that all of us will stay committed for the long haul in this ministry endeavor.
- that the King and His Kingdom will come to all Nations.
- that God will raise up indigenous pastors/leaders and churches.
- how God will use you and your gifts in this outreach.
You can make a tax-deductible contribution to this ministry online. You can also mail contributions, made payable to Mission to North America, to:
Mission to North America
PO Box 890233
Charlotte NC 28289-0233
Designate: Native American/First Nations Ministries
For additional information, contact Jeb Bland
Native American/First Nations Ministries Coordinator