It was in a tiny shop in the middle-of-nowhere that I first heard about the poverty on Native American reservations. As I listened to this stranger tell me things I had never heard before, my heart was stirred. Maybe I could work on reservations.
A few months later the idea was still stirring, though quietly. I attended a few lectures at Fuller about sexual abuse and identity among Native Americans, and I began to write my papers on the web of poverty that many reservations are caught under. Then, as many of you know, I spent a hard and heart-breaking summer working with high school students on the White Mountain Apache reservation. I was overwhelmed by the brokenness, by the stories of my students, and the pain they went through.
How could I not continue to come back after knowing how much need there was for the gospel in this place?
But time moves on and has a way of blurring the lines of your memory. I got involved in school, got distracted by my impending loan payments, and started applying for jobs. Going back to the reservation was not even an option. I had loans to pay and a life to get started.
So when the idea hit me during my visit back for the Apache Youth Ministry spring retreat that maybe I had a calling in Arizona, I was as surprised as anyone.
I never imagined going back so soon, yet God had planted a seed in me that wouldn’t seem to stop growing, no matter how much I tried to stop it out with logic and budget plans. It seemed that God had a plan for me that I could not ignore.
The idea started with one of my students from last summer. As a graduated high school student she doesn’t seem to know quite where to go from here. Though she desires to be off the reservation it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because of poverty culture and a lack of parent involvement, these students don’t have the skills they need to rise out of poverty and survive off the reservation.
They are seemingly stuck in the mud, wishing to get out, but with nobody to give them a hand.
So this is where the exciting news comes:
I’m moving back to the reservation ya’ll! God has given me a clear vision that is leading me back to Apache Youth Ministries as a team member, at least for the next year. Then, over the next few years I hope to develop a program for students who graduate high school on the reservation. It is my vision that I will have a home where they can come and live and be trained in order to reach their future goals, be it college or a specific job.
The dream is to empower students to be agents of change in their lives, and to walk alongside them as we figure out the way to transformation.
This is a big deal, and I could never have imagined this is where God would call me at this time in my life. I definitely feel excited to be back with my Apache students and to work alongside them. Although I will have to raise support before I am able to be in Arizona permanently, I am confident that where God has placed a path He will also place the means of walking down it.
Another fun part of the story is that the support raising means I will get to be in Georgia for the second half of July and the whole month of August! So if you would like to meet with me to talk more about my vision then that can definitely be arranged. And if you are not in Georgia but would like to talk more with me about this vision, then that can be arranged too! And if you want to join my support team I would love to have you involved in providing the resources for me to follow God's call to the reservation.
Pray, pray, pray for me as I continue to follow God’s calling in my life. I need all the prayer I can get, and I promise that I feel those prayers already being lifted up. It was by the many people praying for clarity that I came to this place and I am forever grateful.
So here we go. It seems the adventures never end. :)