We had been hoping to minister to the Native American population here in South Dakota, but it’s been challenging to receive permission to enter Pine Ridge, one of the largest reservations in the U.S. However, God did open up some doors to host a free mini BBQ and festival in a small park only a few miles away from Pine Ridge. We packed up all our children’s supplies, as well as the church BBQ with all the food and spent the larger part of the day in this community.
Our hope was to simply plant seeds about the truth of God’s love, as God has unfortunately, at times been misrepresented to this people throughout their history. The Indians shared a song of honor to us expressing their gratitude for our willingness to learn about their culture and to love them simply.
Here’s a testimony from that day…
On the way up to a park right outside of Pine Ridge Indian reservation, we learned about the Native American Culture and customs. We were told the Natives were very stoic in their interactions with outsiders and that it would be difficult to earn their trust. Over the decades visitors had left a bad taste in their mouths, even though some had good intentions, there was much healing and regeneration of trust that needed to take place. Many of us were uneasy about what we would find when we arrived due to the sensitive nature of the outreach. When we unloaded from the vans we were set at ease by the peacefulness of the grassy park. After we set up, people started to trickle in as the heat of the day subsided. A team went out in a van through the neighborhood inviting people to come to the Barbeque outreach. We were surprised to find how receptive they were to accept the invitation. Children dropped what they were doing and ran to the vans to get a ride to the event. Mother demonstrated remarkable trust towards us even though we were strangers. The children seemed to enjoy all the festivities. There was face painting, balloon animals, bracelet making, food and games. What seemed to touch them the most was our willingness to play with them and listen to the ones who had something to share.
“In order to be a warrior the one trait need to gain respect is humility. I took it as a cue that we didn’t need to carry with us all the other reservations we just been cautioned about. We only need be humble and we would earn their respect, I felt like we were on good ground, the kids knew we were there in love and that our intentions were not to exploit them. I was the most comfortable on this outreach because I felt like God was doing all the work bringing them to us and all we had to do was love them. I was learning so much about the culture and it brought my compassion to a different level. I feel sorry for individuals who have prejudice towards these beautiful people. People were coming up to Rich asking for prayer and we never experienced that on the other outreaches. I think he was perceived as some kind of Chief. That showed their openness to us. We have to be willing to go like little children without any preconceptions and just go and exude humility, because that’s what breaks through the barriers and unites us!” -Dianne