When I was in prison did you…?

by Volkhard Graf

It began about a year ago. Out of the blue we received requests from Native inmates located in prisons in different parts of the country. The letters were sometimes scribbled on half-sheets of notepaper and contained questions, asking for resources to help them in their spiritual walk.

Some asked if we could help supply traditional objects of worship, others spoke of how the inmates had come to know Creator through Jesus while incarcerated. We have no idea how inmates got our contact information, especially since requests came from so many different prisons.

We wrote back, to provide printed study materials that could be helpful in their process of becoming apprentices of Jesus, following him behind prison walls. In some instances regular correspondence began to form. We heard heartbreaking stories of abandonment, neglect, abuse in younger years, often leading to lives of addiction, criminal acts, and prostitution.

Many years ago, when I received my own call, the words of the prophet Isaiah speaking about the Messiah, Creator’s Son, strongly impacted me:

He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners… (Isaiah 61)

We began hearing stories of hope, how the desperation, loneliness, and heartache had literally driven inmates to Jesus. They found acceptance, forgiveness, comfort, and strength in their difficult situations. They also shared their concern for other family members, in one instance, a lady told us of her husband who was incarcerated in another maximum security prison and wanted us to get in touch with him. We have been able to provide Bibles, Books, and other relevant materials, particularly from a Native perspective and have heard back that they are helpful and that there is a desire for more. Because of security restrictions, these materials often need to be shipped directly from the publishers, which is more costly. If you would like to financially support this outreach, you can donate securely here.

A gift of $25 covers a paperback discipleship Study Bible, or Richard Twiss’ book: “Many Tribes–One Church, Following Jesus the way God made you”

Falling Into Place–A Story of Overcoming

Nez Perce, Author: Falling Into Place

Nez Perce, Author: Falling Into Place

For someone on the outside looking in, she had it all. Beauty, notoriety, influence, financial security. Millions of people regularly watched her news reports on the national TV show, CBS This Morning. She had won several Emmy Awards for her outstanding work, rubbed shoulders with Presidents, First Ladies, Actors and Musicians and covered human interest stories from wildfires to crimes. However, when her husband of seventeen years unexpectedly asked for a divorce, she was thrown into a deep emotional crisis, questioning her identity and value.

Growing up in poverty in Seattle’s “projects,” as the daughter of a Nez Perce woman and a German and Dutch father, she remembers her parents struggle with alcohol, neglect, hunger, and going without electricity and water. The rare times when she

and her siblings got to go back to Idaho to see their grandparents, were like an oasis for a thirsty traveler. There she experiencedbook-cover unconditional love, plenty to eat, comfy beds, forests to explore and rivers to swim. Another light during dark days was her Aunt Teddy, who deeply cared for her and her siblings. She would shower them with attention, take them on little discursions, and encourage them to memorize words from the Bible, such as the 23rd Psalm. Although the words didn’t make much sense to her at the time, somehow, her current crisis brought them back. She began to meditate on them and find encouragement and strength. As she reflected on her childhood and the seemingly random experiences she had made while covering news stories, she began to see a pattern emerge that showed her that God had always been near. One night while covering the Oscars Awards show in Hollywood, she felt drawn to a church near the auditorium and experienced a profound touch by God, coming to her rescue, blessing her in a powerful way.

By now you might have figured out that I am talking about Mrs. Hattie Kauffman. She has been telling her story in a newly released book entitled “Falling into Place—a Memoir of Overcoming.” During a promotional interview she was asked: “Did you find God or did God find you?” Hattie stated:

“God didn’t have to find me… He knew where I was all the time. He knew that I was a hungry girl, trying to control her world, scrambling to get somewhere and be someone. It was only when I was so broken in spirit that I could no longer even pretend to be in control…that I looked upward. God? Are you real?”

I hope you take the time to read Hattie’s insightful, deeply moving story, but even more importantly that you to realize God is there for you too, right now, waiting for you to respond to his extended hand.

From Desparation To Freedom

By Donna Ireland, Lumbee and African American. We are grateful for Donna’s permission to post her hopeful journey from despair to freedom in Creator’s Son Jesus. (Donna is preparing to complete a Crossroads Discipleship Training School at YWAM Tyler, TX and feels called to serve among Native people)


Donna Ireland with Son Emmanuel

My name is Donna. I am 39 years old and I have a seventeen-year-old son. When I was 6 weeks old a loving Christian couple adopted me. I am half African American and half Native American. My parents are Caucasian. My parents adopted a boy from South America and they have a biological son. My family went to church every Sunday. We went on family vacations.

On the outside my family appeared great. On the inside we were not great. My dad struggled with alcoholism. He was a great provider but he was hard to live with. When I was in middle school the most important thing to me was fitting in with the crowd. I felt different then other kids, I felt a void in my life. In my early teens I thought I found where I belonged. I found a crowd that smoked marijuana, cigarettes and drank alcohol. We hated life and authority. I rebelled against my parents and God. I cursed my mother out daily. I thought I was invincible. I was angry at my birth parents and took it out on any one who tried to love me. I had cool friends. I went to all the keg parties and I fit in.

I didn’t know than that a lifestyle of partying would turn into a life lived in desperation. I became desperate for a drink, desperate to get high, and desperate for someone to love me. My spirit was desperate for Jesus. He was calling me, but I was to busy being desperate for the wrong things to hear his voice.

When I was 22 I gave birth to a son. I wasn’t married. I thought having a baby might fill the emptiness I felt. My addictions took the place of my son. My parents adopted him after the state took my parental rights away from me. During this time my father quit drinking and rededicated his life to Jesus. I should have followed his lead but instead I made the streets my home. I slept behind dumpsters, in bushes, and at stranger’s houses. I smoked crack every day. I drank beer from the time I woke up until I went to sleep. I would stay awake for days. I lived like this for about four years. My parents lived a few miles away from me, but I didn’t think I had a problem and I liked the way I was living. My parents finally convinced me to enter into a detox center. I weighed 90 pounds. I was so weak that I was in a wheel chair the first few days. After detox I went into a one-year faith based rehabilitation center.

It was there that I found my healer and my Savior. I found what was missing in me all along. His name is Jesus Christ. I surrendered my life and my will to Jesus. When I surrendered to Jesus he forgave me for all that I did. I am a new creation today. I graduated Bible School. I have worked in full time addiction ministry. I am healthy. God is working on my relationship with my son. My relationship with my parents has been completely restored.

Jesus has done amazing things in my life within five years. If he can do these things for me imagine what he can do for you. Jesus has a plan for you. There is hope for everyone. I pray that you will surrender your life to Jesus and receive the wonderful plans he has just for you.

I did awful things in my addiction and God forgave me. When I surrendered my life to Jesus he wiped away all my sins.

No matter what you’ve done or where you come from you are beautiful in God’s eyes. You are important and you deserve an abundant life in Jesus. Jesus has a glorious plan waiting for you. He’s just waiting for you to call on him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)


50 Years Later-YWAM is still innovating

YWAM Still Innovating Mission Work

Loren Cunningham’s vision first took shape in 1960. Fifty years later, nearly 4.5 million people have been involved in Youth With A Mission.

“God called us tor break some norms, and change the paradigm of missions. Although we didn’t know what all that meant, we were used to do the radical. When YWAM was founded, people didn’t think missionaries were anything but westerners speaking to non-westerners under a shade tree, often with a pith helmet. That was never what God thought!” (Loren Cunningham)

“We have always recognized that it takes everyone and that God has uniquely made different people. We are called to release young people into their destiny. Our focus is to develop potential in others.”  (Darlene Cunningham)

“God is willing to use ordinary people of all backgrounds! He is no respecter of nationalities, color of skin, or background. He is willing to use anyone.”

“All Nations are sending Nations, they all have the Great Commission in their Bible, no matter what language they read it in. We need each other desperately. At this point, YWAM is a majority non-western mission! It is an incredible experience to see the riches of Jesus revealed through the human creation, blended together in this adventure that we have experienced in these last 50 years.” (John Dawson)

At the final 50th Anniversary celebration in Hawaii, one participant described her feeling like being at a United Nations event because of the over 100 nationalities present.

“It has been an enormous privilege of blowing the bugle and we have been honored and humbled by what God has done. Her certainly is the “wave maker.”

This video segment about YWAM’s 50 anniversary was shown on CBN. We trust it will encourage and challenge you to get involved. He wants you, He loves you, He likes you!

You can find much more information, pictures, videos and a sampling of the international music from and by YWAMers: YWAM Music (Check out “Warriors come home,”  “I’m calling you home,” and “Shout it out loud” by June Mataia for sounds of the Pacific Islands.

Natives captivate German Hearts

When the wind of the Spirit blows, Warrior, come on and ride the wind…”

Robert Soto, Lipan-Apache, protocols the Mayor of Altensteig

The words sung by Broken Walls and accompanied by a powerful drumbeat are thundering from the massive speakers in the horse arena serving as concert venue. Colorful Traditional, Fancy, and Feather dancer’s busts into the arena, as hundreds of German’s give rousing applause. This scene was repeated at several other major venues, often with hundreds of visitors each, coming from near and far to see the “Indianer” from North America. The team performed at churches in Herborn and Altensteig, at City Halls, at a well-known area restaurant, at a “House of Blues,” music pub, a water castle, and various other locations.

Visitors anticipated seeing Native people in their colorful regalia, hearing music that included pow-wow style drumming and the

A very interested crowd in Haiterbach

more contemporary sounds and music of “Broken Walls.” They were not disappointed. It was evident again that there is great interest in Native people from North America in Germany and all over Europe. But cultural exchange was not the only purpose of the team’s trip to Germany. They also came to share parts of their history, including the often horrendous results of abuse, mistreatment by the majority culture, neglect, alcoholism and drug abuse and the healing that they experienced by coming to know Jesus their Creator in a personal way, helping them overcome devastation and hardships.

Klaus-Peter with Broken Walls

Dancing for Creator from YWAM Native Ministries on Vimeo. A native person having experienced so many hardships but having found freedom in Christ is a powerful and believable witness to European people while sharing their beautiful and varied cultures. Is this possibly part of their destiny in the Lord? We believe that the words first spoken by the Prophet Isaiah to Israel also apply to Native people: “…their descendants shall be known among the nations.” Isaiah 61:9 Jonathan Maracle, widely traveled leader of Broken Walls stated that the country that printed the first Bible is especially on his heart. He said:

“We came here to remind Germans of the message of God’s love they helped bring to us in the first place

Interview by German ERF TV

and have largely forgotten themselves.”

“In the past, First Nations people were either completely assimilated into European culture, or they reacted against it and it’s religion,” said Maracle. “But God didn’t make a mistake when he created our native cultures. Jesus came to conquer sin, not culture. We were made ashamed of our culture.

But now, as native people we reach out for restoration, to all European peoples with the message of Jesus.”

“We love the responses we previously enjoyed in Europe and the enthusiastic reception the music of our native culture has received and we look forward to make new friends.”

Here are a few reactions the team received.

A young lady was moved by the music and dance of the team. Members of the German organizing team are working with her, introducing her to life in fellowship with Jesus and other Followers of Christ.

Native team members keep receiving encouraging news via email and facebook about how their lives were changed by the words they shared and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A young couple has begun their journey to know and grow closer to Jesus

Several other concert participants are taking part in the basic discipleship courses of the church

One mother wrote that her son listens to the CD’s the teams brought,…”he listens to the songs up and down…and dances to the music, making the whole house shake.”

The Team

Broken Walls (Jonathan Maracle – Mohawk, Vocals, Guitar, Mohawk Wind flute, Bill Pagaran – Tlingit, Drums, Kris DeLorenzi – Bass, Vocals) For more information about Broken Walls, their music CD’s and DVD and other products here Created to Dance (Robert Soto – Lipan Apache, Fancy Dancer, Homer Hinojosa – Lipan Apache/Cherokee/Blackfoot, Fancy Dancer, Trey Adams – Lipan Apache, Southern Traditional Dancer, Orena Monahan – Quechan, Jingle/Fancy Shawl Dancer, Erika Monaham  Quechan, Fancy Shawl Dancer, Chelsea Flores – Lipan Apache, Southern Traditional Dancer) More information about Created to Dance, their music CD’s etc. here This tour was made possible by a very dedicated, generous, and hardworking team of organizers in Germany. We are all very thankful for their vision and tireless work to make it possible for the team to share their culture and faith in Jesus.

Warrior, Ride the Wind from YWAM Native Ministries on Vimeo.

Jingle, Fancy Shawl, Southern Traditional, Traditional, Feather Dancers (Created to Dance) enter the arena at Altensteig, Germany to Broken Walls singing “Warrior, Ride the Wind.”

Dancing for Creator from YWAM Native Ministries on Vimeo.

Broken Walls and Created to Dance share their beautiful culture through song and dance with the German people in Haitersbach and Nagold

Beautiful Feet from YWAM Native Ministries on Vimeo.

Created to Dance members joining the Music of Broken Walls. “Beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim Good News.”

Indianweek 2010 Deutschland from YWAM Native Ministries on Vimeo.