Monday, October 31, 2011
RED LAKE REZ, PTL CHURCH
Five years ago, give or take, the Lord dropped me into the church on the Red Lake Reservation, about 40 miles N/NE of Susie's. I had met a pastor in northern MN on the Canadian border and he connected me to Pastor Josephine and it's been a blessing ever since.
I have gone to the church a number of times when coming to Susie's. I've always needed to have the time available on Sunday evening, and the weather to allow me to drive up there along the swampy, deer-ridden roads. I ain't that good at seeing while driving after dark, so it's just not been a consistent stretch.
I had called P. Josephine this week and told her I was at Susie's and that I'd try to be up there this Sunday evening.
After I walked into the church, a little late, P. Josephine beckoned me up to her side-seat on the platform and said, basically, "I want you to preach."
I was not prepared for that. I didn't know exactly what to do, so during the nearly hour-long worship time, I worshiped and "danced" in the back of the church and waited for the Lord to drop the right bits in. He did, I jotted them down quickly, and it came together in a blessed way.
Now, on Sunday evening, all attendants can give testimonies and share verses or tell stories. As I mentioned, "Preaching" responsibility feels differently -- a few minutes longer, if nothing else. In the times I've been there, I've always been sharing, and, knowing me, people realize it will be "good, bad, or ugly" because of my bluntness, especially if I'm talking about my young sinful lifestyle and then sharing how the Lord broke through it and turned my life around, which story goes from "ugly" to "GOOD". I've always figured that with what they've lived through, "sweetness and light" isn't going to make a lot of sense to them, and I can easily expect they would be rolling their eyes and thinking they just aren't understood. So, I can tell them just about anything about me -- sin and abuse, received and given -- and I never see eyes shut or bodies shudder or fingers plug ears. I usually see heads nod. And big grins when I talk about God's faithful victory. They truly understand.
This time, out of all 176 verses of Psalm 119 that I've been reading for a few weeks, the Lord laid vs. 19a on me: I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth. I shared with them my present spiritual motto -- Right Place, Right Time -- and how we need to listen to the Lord and go and come exactly as we hear His call. No matter where or how we live [most of these people are impoverished and buried in great needs], if we listen to Him, we can make a difference to those next door or just up the street -- we won't need the money for a car, for instance, and can't use that as an excuse to not "go" somewhere. If He calls us to prayer-walk an area, we may not even have to drive to that source; it could be just around the corner. In the process, He will use us to plant seed in the hearts of others so they may come to Him in time and we may be the ones who can step up and help them grow in Him.
Of course, I shared a number of personal examples. The main one is how the Lord dropped the Bhutanese refugees into my life, and how the two family members I met in May, 2010, have now grown into about 50 extended family that are a major part of my life... and it began just 2 blocks from my house.
I also said that we simply do not always know what door is going to open, what will close, what will divert... but we CAN know that if we are listening to the voice of our dear Father, and obeying, we can simply trust that the results will be exactly what is right.
That is why Psalm 119:19 is significant. When I read it, at the beginning and the end while at the pulpit, both times they firmly said, "A-men!" And why? The vast majority of us have no idea how long we will be on the earth. God does. He will fill our lives with "coming and going" because He knows where we are and how He can use us in this "temporary" time. And, these "Rez Rezidents", living in tough places at tough times, feel blessed that they are temporary residents on earth and headed for eternal joy ... and they absolutely DO understand what it feels like to be a "stranger" here. In our "usual" culture, even though everyone "knows" that we won't be on earth forever and ever, many are hoping the "temporariness" doesn't kick in too soon.
These Ojibwa tribe members and folks from the Sioux, Apache, or other tribal backgrounds on the rez, understand in ways most of us can't even imagine.