This Fall, YWAMers in Native Ministry from across the US gathered at YWAM Tribalwinds in Flagstaff, Arizona. As a group we visited one of the Hopi communities,
presented protocol gifts and expressed publicly our sorrow for sins, injustices, and shortcomings of the distant and recent past. We were also able to share that we desire to be among them and serve in the attitude and humility of Jesus. Many of the traditional elders present had tears in their eyes. Although their traditions have many, sometimes hidden hints pointing to Jesus, they have often not been recognized and accepted by non-native sent-ones. The gospel therefore always had the air of something foreign for Native people and its transforming power was never able to find deep roots.
We were treated to traditional Hopi delicacies, such as blue corn dishes, spices, meats, and of course deserts. We are learning more and more that we are not called to just present the message of Jesus but also to seek connection, even permission from local elders and leaders. One of our leaders shared that when he did that in a Native community, he was told that in over one hundred years of missionary presence in the community, never had any official introduction been made or permission sought. Our friend was commended for being the first Christian who had ever done so. He also was told that he would enjoy the blessing and protection of the village leader in case of misunderstandings.
One of our greatest joys was the participation of Native people from the Hopi and Navajo Nation, who just recently had completed their Discipleship Training Program (DTS). Despite the mistakes we as non-natives have made, they expressed their interest to work together in reaching more Native people. We blessed and covenanted with each other to labor together in the Spirit of Jesus and to be there for one another. Our Native friends than did something that deeply touched and humbled us. They felt led to wash our “non-native feet”. Everything within us cried out: “No, it is us who need to wash your feet.” As a sign of forgiveness, despite centuries of injustices, paternalism, and misunderstandings, our co-workers wanted to show their love in this tangible way. It was a deep, emotionally and spiritually touching time for us. (You can see more pictures of the conference here)