As the sound of the drum and rhythmic singing filled the air, the teepee towering over 100 feet high and most likely the biggest ever built quickly filled to capacity with an anticipative crowd. As the First Nations Cultural Ministry Team under leadership of Wiconi International President Richard Twiss began to share their culture, history, dances, and their faith in Jesus Christ, they had the attention of the crowd. By God’s provision, much prayer, and the organizational skills of Pastor George Andoh of Triumphant Christian Mission, Hannover the team was invited to perform twice inside the big teepee, an exhibit on the World’s Fair grounds. Here and everywhere the team performed their colorful dances they shared their faith in Jesus Christ unashamedly. They emphasized that their performances where done in worship to their creator and redeemer Jesus Christ.
My wife and I were privileged to help organize the German part of a First Nations Cultural Ministry Team outreach. When we met up with the team they had already spent 9 busy days in Switzerland and France.
The team also performed at the opening of “Jam-City” a Youth Event, organized by the German Lutheran Church, which coincides with the EXPO 2000 and at the International Children’s Theater in Hannover. The performance at the Children’s Theater was a special blessing, where children from more than 10 different countries were able to watch the team.
“This is our appointed time as First Nations believers to boldly step out in faith and possess the promises of God for us regarding His purposes for the nations. Please continue in prayer for covenant partnerships to be developed between Native and non-Native believers in fulfilling this amazing opportunity to world mission,” Richard Twiss
Gerald & Antje Fink who arranged our housing during our stay in Hannover, Germany made these observations about the team.
“Robert’s hoop dance at the opening ceremony at Jam-City, with Dan starting the “wrong” song, “Jesus heal this land,” was strongly supported that evening. The hoop dance was a beautiful symbol for eternal life. A victory in the unseen world was won that evening and fortresses were torn down, especially through Richard’s short gospel message at the end of the performance: “Jesus is the only one who can heal this land, the only one who can save.”
”Native people, in the eyes of many in Germany, are thought to live spiritually in a paradise situation. You left the natural religion of your people and started to follow the only way for all people, Jesus. This was against all those in Germany who think one should not evangelize people and should leave them with their inherited religion or even seek spiritual resources not with Jesus but in the religions of the world. Natives have a definite ministry here in Europe especially among so-called “name-Christians,” those who seek a false unity among all the world religions. Children at pre-school and kindergarten were blessed when Robert performed there and shared the gospel and what Jesus had done in his life. We have heard that children shared what they had seen and heard with their sometimes not believing parents. Worship in these Christian kindergartens has been enriched by Jonathan’s music, and now they are playing his music CD there since he left.”
At our next stop the team performed at the auditorium of a High School before a largely non-Christian audience. The principal of the school later talked to Jonathan Maracle, a Mohawk from Canada, commenting that she enjoyed the cultural part of their presentation very much, but that she didn’t care for the “Religion”. To her consternation she found that Jonathan agreed with her, sharing that they were not here to promote religion but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He also shared that at reserves in Canada no solutions for the problems many native people deal with has been found but Jesus Christ. After her talk with Jonathan this non-believing, humanistic teacher had to admit that if this was so, they should not do otherwise but continue to share about Jesus.
Before their departure the team got to perform at Christian Center Herborn; a large Ethiopian and Philippino congregation in Frankfurt and at a retreat Center near Heidelberg, Germany.
We felt that significant things were accomplished during this time in Germany and pray that this was only the trail-blazing trip for First Nations teams, and that many more teams will follow to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to our country, which is largely indifferent to the gospel.
Report by Volkhard Graf
Pastor Robert Soto, Lipan Apache, McAllan, Texas
Pastor Dan LaPlante, Lakota from Cheyenne River,Reservation, Eagle Butte, S. D.
Jodi Scott, Cherokee, Atlanta, Georgia
Ed LaRose, Pomo, Sacramento, California
Rachel Scott, Lipan Apache, Mc Allan, Texas, daughter of Robert Soto
Jonathan Maracle, Mohawk, Tyendinega Territory, Ontario, Canada
Richard Twiss, Lakota, Vancouver, Washington
Not pictured are: Leonard “Wyndigo” Simcoe, Ojibway, Victoria, B.C. & Alex Shane, Cyndi LaPlante
Here is an excerpt of the report written by Richard Twiss, President, Wiconi International
Around the world North American Native people are highly esteemed. They are regarded with great respect, dignity, and honor. The songs, dances, and culture of First Nations people enjoy a remarkable global fascination and recognition. Richard Twiss President of Wiconi International and Team Leader said, “We saw in part the fulfillment of what I, and many others, have been saying for the past few years, that, no other people group is so uniquely positioned for world evangelism, as First Nations people are today. After 400 years, we are at last beginning to see the emergence of redeemed cultural expressions from the Native church, to the honor of Jesus Christ.” This was one of the few evangelistic outreaches from the North American Church to Europe where a group of Native people has taken advantage of the remarkable European fascination with Native culture. Various team members were invited who not only have a deep love for Jesus and were spiritually mature, but also were gifted in the areas of traditional Native dance, drumming, and singing, who had beautiful dance regalia.
The team gave 25 ministry presentation in just nineteen days, in 13 cities in three countries. They danced, drummed and shared Christ at the World Expo and the International Children’s Festival in Hannover, Germany; in numerous public grade and high schools; a wide range of churches; a school for physically and mentally challenged children; a large public park on Lake Geneva, in Lausanne, Switzerland; village community centers; and a large Ethiopian/Filipino International Church in Frankfurt, Germany. Both believers and non-believers alike were touched by the presence of the Lord during our ministry times.
Several nationally respected Swiss church leaders witnessed our team in action. Here is what some had to say about the team.
”I think that in our post-modern society our Native friends have a great future in front of them as far as the sharing of the Gospel is concerned. To those who pretend that the rehabilitation of these Indian traditions and cultures have nothing to do with the Christian faith we would like to remind them of the vision of John in the Book of Revelation who saw that in the end of times the nations of the whole world will bring their richness to the Lord of the Universe. So our friends have given us a taste of the coming Kingdom.”
Pastor Guy Chautems, former pastor of the Reformed Church at the Cathedral of Lausanne
“My conviction is that God can use the testimony of the Amerindians in Europe (and probably elsewhere) in a very specific way, especially to reach and touch people with New Age and ecologist tendencies. Such people have both admiration and a wrong vision about Indians. They imagine they are in the same philosophy than themselves and they could be very surprised and impressed to see that they can be true Disciples of Christ, fully committed to the Kingdom of God without denying their cultural values. Such a demonstration would be able to lead many people back to the Lord in Europe.”
Jean Pierre Besse, Pastor of the Reformed Church, Elder in an evangelical Church, Best-selling Christian writer, President of Cabes International, Agent at the Scripture Union
”We saw our people touched in a way we had not seen for a long time. The interest the people here have for the First Nations opened doors that would have been closed otherwise. Their way of sharing the Good News doesn’t only touch the intellect of the people but their hearts in a very deep way. They showed a friendship reflecting the Kingdom of God on Earth. For those who have doubts about the authenticity of their ministry we would like to say that all they said was glorifying Jesus as the only Way, the only Hope for mankind”.
Josquin & Nathania Boschung, Swiss Outreach Organizers
Each team member commented on how honored they were to be used by God in such a spiritually impacting way. Also we were absolutely amazed by the depth of respect and notoriety Native people have throughout Europe. We were like Hollywood celebrities. Here are a few reactions of team members:
“The past sixteen years I have carried a wooden cross and preached Jesus in 36 countries of the world, and as a native man have always well received. However, as I watched our team share the Lord thru our various cultural expressions, I think the people were shocked to see Native people in full regalia, proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and King. He said, ” I think it is a wonderful way for the Gospel to be proclaimed to the nations.”
Ed LaRose from the Pomo Nation
On a personal note this was a very special team for me to be to a part of. It was a beautiful picture of brotherly love and respect. The level of humility, willingness to serve with joy when exhausted or uninspired, and spiritual maturity of every member was a reward in and of itself.
Richard Twiss, Lakota, President of Wiconi International, Team Leader
I keep seeing the faces of all the people we touched with the Gospel and with a word of encouragement. I keep thinking of the way the Lord took a simple thing like our Cultural gifts and used them to his honor and glory.
Pastor Robert Soto, Lipan Apache
Rachel Soto, Pastor Robert Soto’s 15-year-old daughter, jingle and fancy shawl dancer, experienced new freedom as a Christian. She said, “I found out it’s okay to show you’re a Christian and an Indian, instead of being Christian at church and church activities and Indian the rest of the time. I was honored to minister dressed in my regalia, and amazed to see how eager people were to hear what we had to say. I was especially blessed to lead those two young girls to Christ, and getting to anoint the teens at the camp in Switzerland with oil and prayer.”
Already plans are being discussed to have another team return to Switzerland, this time for city-wide outreaches in several of the major cities as well as Bible teaching and leadership training for the churches. They have also been asked to pray about a team to Poland for large evangelistic meetings as well as returning to Germany.