Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Granberrys!

(Each member of the Granberry family has put a thought on the past year in writing for you, I hope you enjoy!)

Putting this Christmas card and letter together has reminded me of the joys and blessings of raising our 4 children and serving with Chris. I enjoy the "young adult" phase our kids are entering into and hope you get a glimpse of them as well. Chris has been studying for the last 2 years for his licensure and ordination in the PCA. We were so proud of him when he passed all examinations and was approved by the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest! At that point we began planning the ordination service to be held here on the reservation. I am proud to be a Pastor's wife this year, and proud of Chris. We continue to seek wisdom together in the ministry of Sacred Road and in raising our family here. I am grateful for the opportunity to have Marisol and sometimes Stephen as part of our family. I am grateful for all the Covenant Christian Middle School families for their ministry to our family. I am grateful for this past summers' awesome intern team and the future growth of the Sacred Road team! We have experienced so many blessings through our connections with the Body of Christ. Thank you all for your love. ~ Mary

This year I have really enjoyed community. I feel that all throughout the year the community in my family has been growing deeper. This year I have really enjoyed just hanging out with Beth, Morgan and David. I’m only their older sister but I have seen the Lord work in them in so many ways. They all have amazing gifts, and they all really know how to love well. I see their ability to love especially when they interact with the kids on the reservation. God has given us so many little blessings this year, little blessings like community, and family.

As we go into the Christmas season I think of the reason Christ came, and I am thankful that now we can be a part of a greater community and bigger family with Him.

~ Ann Marie (15)

Through out this year there have been many things that I have so loved and enjoyed. One of which are the memories that I have had with the native kids at Totus Park. Their lives are filled with tragedies and still they run to us for the bubbles, kickball, or crafts. But in the meantime they learn about Jesus and his love for us. Coming into the Christmas season, I love to think of these kids that don’t know what God can do for them in their lives. They trust in us to bring the toys and snacks for them and we trust God to bring them to Himself. We don’t get to see the kids very much in the winter, but I know they are being watched over by the Lord. And I trust Him to take care of them for the coming year.

~Beth (13)

One week this May we went to a place in Colorado called MTI, they held a week long training session called DAR (Debriefing And Renewing). We went and met lots of different missionaries from all around the world. It helped a lot for us kids to be with people who understand us entirely without having to be an intern or come on a team. They understood how most people who hear of us think of church planting as only done by the parents, but that the kids are also as involved as the parents and we love the people of the Yakama tribe like our own family. Now as more people come to hear about us, more people come to realize that. Our job as missionaries is hard and not easy for many to handle. We don’t get to live a normal everyday life, there is no way of saying what is going to happen next. The plans will change from needing to set the table for teams to fighting a wild fire that would devour everything around you. But I love the reservation and couldn’t stand being away from it for a month.


One of my favorite memories this year was playing football. I was defensive tackle. I played for the Wapato wolves, we played six games, we won three and we lost three. I enjoyed practicing with dad and getting tips.

It was fun playing defensive tackle because I’m on the line and all the action is in that area. My dad said that I averaged three tackles a game.

Some more of my favorite memories from this year are going on road trips with the interns this summer. We went to the Yakima river canyon, the Columbia river gorge in Oregon, Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and we went sledding on White Pass in June.

I liked going in the Box Canyon in Oregon and swimming under a freezing cold waterfall.

~David (10)

I’m the type of guy that thinks in “key words”. I often find myself in the midst of chaos for some reason. I don’t know if I create chaos or simply attract it or some combination of both, but in the midst of chaos, key words help me stay oriented and enable me to keep moving forward. When I think about the words that float around at Christmas time I remember words like “wonderful”, “manger”, “tinsel”, “Macy’s”, “gingersnap”, and many other great words, but my favorite Christmas word is not just a Christmas word (it works great in mid-February and in the summer and everyday). My favorite Christmas word is the simple, non-assuming, little word “with”.

Believe it or not, that little, sort of bland sounding, word can reorient me any day of the year as fast as any other. It reminds me immediately of “Emmanuel”, the name Gabriel told Mary to give Jesus. That name literally means, as you know, “God with us”. That little word “with” makes all the difference. Notice the difference between these situations: a mother with her child versus a child without a mother; a man with a life jacket versus a drowning man without one; a soldier with his family versus a soldier on a battlefield. “With” makes all the difference. What if God had instructed Gabriel to have Mary name baby Jesus something slightly different. What if He was not “God with us” but was “God has forsaken us” or “God against us”! Can you imagine what your life would be like? Can you imagine what this world would be like?

“With” makes all the difference.

Many days, in the midst of the chaos of life and ministry, even in the midst of times, as Paul called them, of “despairing even of life itself”, that simple word “with” can remind me of the fact that God has not abandoned us. On the contrary, He had remembered us and has “risen up to take action” on our behalf, for His Kingdom and His Glory. Jesus, Emmanuel, came to “live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died” (enduring on that cross the ultimate abandonment of the Father, the opposite of “union”, for the first time in eternity past) so that we could be “with” Him, in the presence of the Father, for all eternity!

We are united, inextricably, with Christ, by God-given faith. Dr. Bryan Chapell calls our union with Christ “a knot tied in Heaven that we cannot untie or even reach”. We are with Him because He came… to be with us… forever.

In the midst of the chaos…

Take heart.

Take courage.

Fight… for Him, for His Kingdom.

He is with us.

~ Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 2008 Christmas Feast

Well, all in a blur, the “Sixth Annual Hope Fellowship Christmas Feast” has come and gone again. The first year we started this event it was a simple Christmas dinner to which 22 people came. We were shocked at the “huge” turn out! We had only been on the reservation for seven months at that point, which was long enough to learn, among a few other things, that Christmas was not a “traditional holiday” for the Yakama people.

A lot has happened in the last five years as you know. Last year between 350-400 folks came to the feast and, miraculously, there was more than enough food and gifts for all. There were even left-overs!

Heading into the Christmas Feast this year, I had a strange mixture of excitement, amazement, fear and dread. I know what you are thinking, “missionaries are not supposed to feel fear and dread”. I agree. Honestly, I’ve found myself feeling, thinking, saying, and doing a lot of things over the years on the rez that I’m not supposed to. What can I say? Sorry. Pray for me.

Anyway, I was excited and amazed by the incredible response of churches and individuals all over the nation who send gifts for men, women, and children of all ages; money; food; encouraging emails; and assurance that they were praying for us and the people who would attend the feast. Beanie babies, hot wheels, hand tools, etc flooded in everyday! Also, helpers from the northwest came to cook, load and unload the box trailer, wash dishes, haul trash, pray, listen, learn, smile, fold programs, cry, etc. Once again, the “appropriate response” of the people of God to our “first neighbors” left us blessed and optimistic and hopeful as we “stood in the friendly crossfire”! The Kingdom is growing larger, wider, and deeper all around us and all around the world! Any day and every day is a great day to see it grow but Christmas is an especially wonderful time to see the Kingdom (that Christ established, lived/lives for, fought/fights for, and died for) grow in us, through us, and around us.

We were also encouraged and amazed at the leadership that Wendell demonstrated before when we were out of town (in Alabama visiting family, friends and churches). He called two meetings with the Hope Fellowship “core group” to make plans, select songs to be sung at the feast, organize the children’s drama, etc! The core group really “stepped up” and took ownership of this the biggest outreach event Sacred Road hosts all year long! They also went to great lengths to make sure the whole event was Christ-centered and that the folks who attended knew that they were welcome at our weekly Bible study (which will resume in early January). This is all the more amazing when you consider that many of the members of the “core group” do not actually claim to be Christians yet themselves!

Now, I need to try to explain the sense of dread and fear I/we felt going into the feast. The short version is that the whole thing is a virtual minefield culturally. What you in this event is basically white folks hosting a feast in the oldest longhouse on the reservation to celebrate a non-traditional holiday and bring a “non-Indian” message. There are a multitude of ways to step on toes, offend elders, break cultural rules, etc. Also, as our “core group” attempts to take ownership and “pull off” certain things there are many opportunities to fail, get frustrated with each other and/or us, etc. On top of that, I have to lead the singing of Christ centered Christmas carols for up to 400 traditional people in the longhouse… and I can’t really sing! A great word for all this is “angst”. I think faith is the willingness to move forward/follow in the midst of angst not in the absence of it… but what do I know.

In the end, the preparations went very smoothly. We had a lot of great help (as I mentioned above). The turn out at the feast was smaller (in the neighborhood of 180 folks) which was actually kind of a relief (350+ was over the top). The meal was fantastic and everyone loved it. Many women came to Mary and others thanking them specifically for such a wonderful meal.

The program went great too and was very Christ-centered by His Grace. The children came forward to form an instant children’s choir and sing “Rudolf” (which is a song they all know and can sing without the lyrics). As we sang “Do You Hear What I Hear?” a few of our children from Hope Fellowship walked around the room dressed as shepherds. When we say “We Three Kings” three more kids paraded through dressed as the magi. I shared a few thoughts on Jesus being the light of the world and the “ultimate” Christmas gift. From my perspective, the adults who were present seemed to be very attentive and encouraged by the message (understandably, the kids were too excited about the piles of wrapped gifts behind me to sit very still!)

We asked the teenagers that come to Hope Fellowship to pass out the gifts after the message. They really enjoyed it and did a great job. The folks who were there were encouraged to see teens doing something good, I think. You normally only hear bad news about teenagers in White Swan, but here were several who want to be different. Having said that, please pray for “our” teenagers. They are all “at-risk” in the extreme. It is literally “touch and go” for each one. While you are praying along those lines don’t forget to pray for Chuck and Neena Clevenger and the one/two year interns who are coming as they begin youth ministry and discipleship in earnest in January 2009. We desperately need each one of them and time is of the essence.

It was wonderful to watch children open up the beanie babies and hot wheels with huge smiles. They often turned immediately to the adults that brought them to show them their new gifts then jumped on the floor to play with their new toys. The adults and teens were more reserved as they opened their gifts but were obviously happy with them. The women and girls opened their fancy lotions to smell them and passed them around for others to sniff. The men checked out the assortment of tools. Some laughed and told me that now that they had tools they’d have to work. Jokingly, they said we should have given the tools to the women. The teenage boys received footballs and some of those were already flying back and forth across the room. After all the gifts were opened the our teenagers passed out brown lunch bags filled with an orange, hard candy, candy canes, and peanuts. This was a new idea to us but our folks from Hope Fellowship had said “out here it would feel like Christmas with out the brown bags” so we did it. They were right, everyone loved it and dug right into the oranges, etc.

As the gifts were being distributed and opened some of the elders stood up to speak and a Christian man we know (who happened to bring his trumpet) played some Christmas carols. Most of the comments from the elders were very Christ-centered and they thanked all of us and encouraged everyone present to remember the real meaning of Christmas as it approaches.

In the end, I think all of us were blessed. I felt silly for my previous sense of fear and dread. The Lord answered all of our prayers! Thank you so much for praying in general for us and specifically for this event. Thanks also for all the gifts and money that you sent to help with this. May God repay each of you ten times over!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wendell's "Guest Worker Program" in the News

Wendell has something big in the works. The Yakima Herald featured Wendell in a large article in the paper this weekend.
To see the details and photo of him, visit this site:


(You'll have to cut and paste it into your address bar, sorry.)

~ Chris

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our Daughter, Beth, Remembers the Halloween Party

(on right: Beth and Marie making a necklace at Kids Club last summer)

"One of the worst feelings I have ever had is when I am not sure if my favorite kid at Totus Park will be there when we come. A six year old girl who I always pray will be there is Marie. All I could do was just hope to see her at our Halloween Party. When we got there I rode with Veronica around Totus Park to pick up kids. Marie and I played all summer and know each other well. When we got to Marie's house her brothers, Andrew, Aaron,and Lester, were in the yard. Aaron knew I was looking for Marie and he ran inside to tell his sister. Next I say the tiny girl rushing around the corner of the house, barefoot, long hair in tangles, screaming "Beth! Beth!" I jumped out of the van and caught her in my arms! It was the first time I had seen her since the summer ended. After that, when she found out that we had forgotten to bring the jump ropes, we did crafts, played with sidewalk chalk, and colored coloring sheets together. We both knew that, with winter weather coming, we wouldn't be able to play like this together until next spring. But we spent that day together, and I will never forget her face when she saw me."

Beth Granberry (age 13)

A note from Chris: Please pray for little Marie. She lives in one of the worst house in Totus Park, the tribal housing project where we do Kid's Club, in White Swan. We all live with the fear, that Beth alludes, to that this might be the last time we see a particular child that we love. Some kids move away with no warning, Child Protective Services removes children from dangerous homes, and sometimes children we love seem to simply disappear. Pray also for my children as the love and minister to the children of White Swan. It is a joy but it is heartbreaking at the same time.



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Some Random Thoughts on What We are Really All About

Hey All,

I never really thought about "attacking injustice", "fighting for peace ("shalom" in Hebrew on right. T-shirts coming soon!)", and "fighting against oppression" until I started studying Isaiah 58:6-12 about ten years ago. After my first visit to the rez in the summer of 2000 I was "haunted by" that passage and very disturbed by a growing awareness that "all was not well" in the good ole USA. I began to suspect that the "American Dream" (which I had been pursuing without really admitting it) might not really run parallel to the Gospel as I had come to believe.

The idea of fighting for "truth and justice" sounds like a job for Superman. So when I ran across those concepts in Isaiah 58 and other places in Scripture I figured the passages didn't apply to me since I'm obviously not a superhero. I thought that maybe those admonitions were were intended for judges, lawyers, politicians, etc. Over time I realized that the Lord is calling every Christian to "throw their life" at a problem too big to be changed unless "the Lord shows up in power". I also began to see that Isaiah 58 breaks it down for knuckleheads like me. The Lord says that "fighting for justice and against oppression" initially looks like "sharing your bread with the hungry", "your clothes with the naked", and "providing the poor wanderer with shelter" or "bringing the homeless poor into your home". After all, that is exactly what Jesus has done for us! That is our story. He has fed us (with his body), he has clothed us (with his robes of righteousness and Himself, we are "in Him"), and brought us into His family (He is our refuge).

The "apple doesn't fall from the tree". If we love the Father we will love what He loves and do what He does. It involves sacrifice. Initially, loving our neighbor is not a "win win" proposition. They win and we lose. However, we are willing to lose because Christ lost it all for us and He "has our back". Isaiah 58 promises that "the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard". It also promises that as we go out on a limb for Him and see our desperate need for Him (and the desperate need of the broken, fallen, horror-filled world around us) He will "strengthen our frame, guide us always, and satisfy our needs in a sun-scorched land". It promises that He will "make us like a well watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail" in the desert. In essence, He can and will make us like an oasis in the desert where people come to find life through the "Living Water" that flows through us.

My favorite preacher, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York, says that God's Shalom comes in the midst of "tight, open community" where our lives are like a "tapestry". That is our lives are "close knit, over, under, around and through each other". A fabric (and a community) like that is strong, warm, and intricately beautiful. It is a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God. It is the kind of community people long to be a part of. That's what we are after, what we are about. When you stop and think about it, that's what "church planting" really is.

If you've every been part of a group of any sort (a team, a class, a club, a church, etc.) and I know you have, you know that "shalom" does not happen "naturally". A group may be open (to strangers and outsiders) but it will not be tight or close knit. A group may be "close knit" (like the mafia) but it will not be open. True "shalom" is a miracle. It is something only the Lord can create or give. We take heart in the promise of Jesus, "I will build my church" and in the fact that "every tongue, every tribe, and every nation" will be represented about His throne on the day of "Ultimate Shalom".

Over time we will see His justice, His truth, His love, and His peace (shalom) prevail against all odds. May it be so.

Take some time to consider these concepts in light of what you've learned about Native America as well as what is going on in your own neighborhood.

Please roll these ideas around, talk about them, pray about them, and pray that the Lord does this in and through us and the baby church we have here on the rez. Thanks!

Grace and Peace!


"Shalom" means "peace" in often represents a peace symbol.
Shalom (שָׁלוֹם) is a Hebrew word meaning peace, completeness, and welfare and can be used idiomatically to mean hello, and goodbye. As it does in English, it can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries), or to the well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group of individuals. The word is also found in many other expressions and names
In expressions
The Word "shalom" can be used for all parts of speech; as a noun, adjective, verb, and as an adverb. It categorizes all shaloms. The word shalom is used in a variety of expressions and contexts in Hebrew speech and writing:
Shalom aleichem (שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם; "well-being be upon you" or "may you be well"), this expression is used to greet others and is a Hebrew equivalent of "hello". Also, for example; "shabat shalom!" The appropriate response to such a greeting is "upon you be well-being" ( עֲלֵיכֶם שָׁלוֹם, aleichem shalom). This is a cognate of the Arabic Assalamu alaikum. On Erev Shabbat (Sabbath eve), Jewish people have a custom of singing a song which is called Shalom aleichem, before the Kiddush over wine of the Shabbat dinner is recited.
In the Gospels, Jesus often uses the greeting "Peace be unto you," a translation of shalom aleichem.
(From Wikipedia)

Dr. Timothy Keller on Shalom

So Christians work for the peace, security, justice, and prosperity of their (larger community) and their neighbors, loving them in word and in deed, whether they believe what we do or not. In Jeremiah 29:7, Israel's exiles were called not just to live in the city/larger community, but also to love it and work for its shalom—its economic, social, and spiritual flourishing. The citizens of God's (Kingdom) are the best possible citizens of their earthly (communities).
This is the only kind of cultural engagement that will not corrupt us and conform us to the world's pattern of life. If Christians (seek) simply to acquire power, they will never achieve cultural influence and change that is deep, lasting, and embraced by the broader society. We must live in the (larger community) to serve all the peoples in it, not just our own tribe. We must lose our power to find our (true) power. Christianity will not be attractive enough to win influence except through sacrificial service to all people, regardless of their beliefs.
This strategy (if we must call it that) will work. In every culture, some Christian conduct will be offensive and attacked, but some will be moving and attractive to outsiders. "Though they accuse you — they may see your good deeds and glorify God" (1 Peter 2:12, see also Matt. 5:16). In the Middle East, a Christian sexual ethic makes sense, but not "turn the other cheek." In secular New York City, the Christian teaching on forgiveness and reconciliation is welcome, but our sexual ethics seem horribly regressive. Every non-Christian culture has enough common grace to recognize some of the work of God in the world and to be attracted to it, even while Christianity in other ways will offend the prevailing culture.
So we must neither just denounce the culture nor adopt it. We must sacrificially serve the common good, expecting to be constantly misunderstood and sometimes attacked. We must walk in the steps of the one who laid down his life for his opponents.
It will not be enough for Christians to form a culture that runs counter to the values of the broader culture. Christians should be a community radically committed to the good of the (larger community) as a whole. We must move out to sacrificially serve the good of the whole human community, especially the poor. Revelation 21-22 makes it clear that the ultimate purpose of redemption is not to escape the material world, but to renew it. God's purpose is not only saving individuals, but also inaugurating a new world based on justice, peace, and love, not power, strife, and selfishness.
(Taken from http://www.christianvisionproject.com/2006/06/a_new_kind_of_urban_christian.html)

Cornelius Plantinga on Shalom

The prophets knew how many ways human life can go wrong because they knew how many ways human life can go right. (You need the concept of a wall on a plumb to tell when one is off.). These prophets kept dreaming of a time when God would put things right again.
They dreamed of anew age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise and the wise, humble. They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps. People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder; all humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God and delight in God. Shouts of joy and recognition would well up from valleys and seas, from women in streets and from men on ships.
The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.
(Taken from http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/2007/10/cornelius-plant.html October 18, 2007)

Paul's signature expression: "Grace and peace." This greeting is found in some form at the opening of all of Paul's epistles, most commonly, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
What many don't realize is that Paul coined a new phrase. "Grace" or "Grace to you" sounded like the standard Greek greeting, but was infused with theological meaning. On the other hand, "Peace" was a Jewish blessing that sounds weightier in the Hebrew: "Shalom."
Paul knew that many of his congregations were torn by factional strife. But he didn't say, "Grace to you Gentiles, and shalom to you Jews." Grace is not just for Greeks, and peace is not just for Jews. God's desire was for the whole community to receive his grace and experience his shalom—not merely the absence of conflict, but the fullness of well being, harmony, wholeness, and life.
So Paul said, "Grace and peace to you." Paul addressed Gentile and Jewish believers together, as members of one body. He wrote in continuity with their cultural and ethnic backgrounds, yet pointed to a new, countercultural reality. He combined a Greek greeting and a Hebrew greeting to create a distinctively Christian greeting.
Paul did not neuter the cultural particulars of the church's constituents. Nor did he emphasize identity politics or pit categories against each other. Instead, he affirmed the communities' distinct identities, then transcended them to forge a new identity in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. He modeled unity amid cultural diversity, as experienced in the church's birth at Pentecost. If Paul were writing today, he might choose other vocabulary and language to bridge contemporary divides: "Hola and howdy, y'all, in the name of Jesus." Or, "Salaam and shalom to you."
(Taken from “Grace and Peace” by Al Hsu from Christianity today June , 2008)

Howard Zehr is director of the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University and author of Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice. He spoke with Timothy C. Morgan about the basics of restorative justice.
Restorative justice revolves around three concepts: Harm, obligation, and engagement. It says what really matters about the wrongdoing is the harm that's been done. One goal is to meet the needs of those who have been harmed. The second goal is to hold people accountable to meet obligations. A third is to involve those impacted to the extent possible because being engaged is such an important part of the experience of justice. The goals are to meet victims' needs and the offenders' needs.
One Rwandan student who lost his whole family in the genocide took our restorative justice class [at Eastern Mennonite]. One requirement is that students explain restorative justice to someone who's never heard about it. He decided to tell his new wife. She started laughing at him and said, "You came all the way over here and spent all this money to learn what every African already knows." The challenge today is meshing the criminal justice approach and the indigenous approach.
The criminal justice approach, whether it be in Rwanda or elsewhere, is very offender-oriented. The victim has very little place and gets frustrated with that process. But we need both. There are places where they are being used conjointly in very useful ways.
(taken from “A Justice that Restores,
A method for bringing victims and offenders together.”
An interview with Howard Zehr)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ann Marie on Some of Our First (and smallest) Neighbors

Ann Marie (third from the right in the photo above) turned 15 in September. Mary and I are very proud of the young woman she has become. We used to give her "roles" in the ministry so she would have a "sense of ownership". Over the last year I've realized that I should give her opportunities to lead and serve because there are multiple areas where she is better at it than me! Her desire to teach and lead and serve is rooted in her deep love for the Lord and for the Yakama people. On top of all that, she is a talented writer. One of the best ways to see her love for the Lord and for some of our smallest neighbors is to read what she writes. I asked her if I could share some of her writing with you. Here it is.



I can’t remember the first time I met Koda. It’s almost as if I’ve known her my whole life, but the strange thing is that I can remember life without her. Life without Koda wasn’t hard, I didn’t feel as if there was a huge gap in my heart, but now, if I were to leave, life without Koda would be hard, and I would feel as if a huge gap had replaced the leap my heart gives every time I see her. She has grown up so fast, and she can’t remember her life before my family moved out. In her mind the Granberry’s have always lived on the Reservation. Most kids we work with had not heard the love of Christ before we moved out and they remember their life without Jesus kind of like I remember my life without Koda. But unlike my life without Koda they can remember a gap and a lack of hope in their life that only Jesus could fill. Koda is one of the fortunate children who have always heard of Jesus. She can’t remember a time in her life that she didn’t know of a God who loves her. She might know a time in her life where she lacked hope or when she was afraid but Jesus was still there. Every Tuesday night my family holds a Bible Study, it’s our baby church. Koda’s family comes. When Koda sees me she comes to me and begs me to hold her. Sometimes we will run around tickling people and other times we will just sit quietly and color. Koda is a perfect example of child like faith. Her life has been rough; her family has had some really tough times. But I have always seen Koda joyful and excited. Without even speaking to me she has encouraged and inspired me.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”- Mark 5:34

Dear Lord,

I come to you now with much thanksgiving in my heart. Thank you so much for this amazing child who has been such a blessing to so many people. Thank you that she has the gift of joy. Thank you that she is able to minister to people. I pray for Koda as she grows up so quickly, that you will protect her and lead her. I pray that she will always know your love even through the chaos she will encounter in life. I thank you for filling the unknown gap in my life.



Koda’s older sister is named Alexa. Alexa is the sweetest thing in the world. She is so full of hugs. Alexa does not speak to often. She knows how but she chooses not to. For two years now I have taught a few kids at a program called AWANA. They hold a very small AWANA in Harrah, a town three miles from my house. God has blessed me with some amazing experiences while teaching there. I was extremely privileged to watch and teach Alexa. Her mind is so sharp. She struggles with memorizing and reading sometimes but you can see the wheels turning. I enjoy teaching for many reasons but the main reason is that teaching, in some ways, is like putting together a puzzle. Each child learns in a different way and I love trying to find that way. Alexa’s way of learning is adding sign language to the memory section. After figuring out the best way for Alexa to learn it was off to the races. We flew through the book. My heart gave a leap every time she said a verse to me without any help. Which became more and more often.

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants” - Deuteronomy 32:2

Dear Father in Heaven,

Thank you for your word and thank you for giving us minds that can memorize your word. I pray that as Alexa and I studied those verses that she became closer to you. Thank you for your different children who each have different ways that they can learn. People say that actions speak louder than words and so Father I thank you for this young lady who speaks little but hugs much. Thank you for those hugs Lord.



My heart seems to leap up a lot out here. But mainly it leaps when I see a child that I love. A child like Koda or a child like Alexa or a child like Cyndel. Cyndel lives in Totus Park, which is the neighborhood where our family and the teams we bring out hold the Kids Club. Usually when I enter Totus for Kids Club, Cyndel is already outside playing. But no matter what she is doing, when she sees me she runs to my arms. This is when my heart leaps up. I am lucky that Cyndel is not heavy, other words I would never be able to carry her around as much as she would like me to. As soon as she gets to me, I have to pick her up and I have to hold her for the rest of the time that I am with her. Cyndel loves three things in life, being held, bubbles and listening to stories. Cyndel loves to listen to the Bible stories that the teams tell when they come. She will sit in my lap and listen intently to the story and when it’s over she’ll turn around and retell it to me as if I wasn’t there to hear it with her.. As I sit in the dirt at Totus and cuddle this girl in my lap I watch her as she listens and I watch her as she eats her little snack and I know that she understands. This little girl understands the love of Christ. She, like Koda, has known my family her whole life. I don’t know what she experiences when she is at home, but when she comes to Kids Club she has fun and she feels safe and she knows she is loved. This little girl has ministered and given so much to me, and though it seems priceless all I have to do to repay her is to hold her, blow bubbles with her and listen to her tell me stories.

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”- 1 Samuel 3:9

Dear Heavenly Father,

I hold so much love in my heart for this little girl. Please keep her safe as she finds her way through her life. Thank you that she ministers to people without words. Thank you for bubbles and the joy that they bring to Cyndel and to other children. Thank you for Cyndel’s heart which is so sweet and her mind which is so bright. I thank you for your priceless gift, the gift of your Son.



Cyndel’s older sister is Justine. Justine is such a beautiful girl. She’s the type of girl whose smile will literally brighten up your whole day. When we play at Totus Park it is easy for your hands to get dirty. Many of the young girls at Totus know that when their hands get dirty, whether its mud or finger paint or whatever, that they can come to me and I will let them wipe their hands on my pants. This all started when a team brought finger paints to Totus. It was a really cold day out at Totus, so, even though it was fun to finger paint, all of the kids were freezing as they stood there with wet paint up to their elbows. We got some water and rinsed every ones hands off but no one had anything to dry them on. Justine came up to me shivering uncontrollably. She had a sweater but she had rolled the sleeves up as high as they could go sot that they wouldn’t get paint on them. I stood there, looking at her and wondering what I could do. Then I looked down and saw my dirty work pants. “Why don’t you dry your hands off on my pants?” I asked Justine. She looked up at me. Her large eyes twinkled a little and her beautiful smile began to spread across her face. She began to dry her hands. When she was all dry we rolled down her sleeves and she started to warm up. Many of the other kids had witnessed this event and soon began to crowd me and beg me to let them dry off too. Pretty soon all hands were dry. Since that day my pants have been known as the perfect hand towel.

“He who has clean hands will grow stronger and stronger.” - Job 17:9

Father God,

We see in your scriptures many passages telling us to be pure, pure in heart, pure in soul, pure in mind.

Thank you for sending your Son to purify us and to cleanse not only our hands but everything about us. I pray for Justine that she will see this amazing gift and I pray that she will ask you to purify her heart. Keep her safe Father. I pray that I will minister to these children and that through a cold day, and that through finger paint or mud that they will see your love through me.



It seems unfair to me that one girl would have to go through so much pain and suffering and loss. Seeing a person who has been through loss makes my heart sink. My heart tries to reach out to them, but every time it seems to melt until it’s too hard for me to hold on and then I’m stuck not knowing how to comfort them. One of the many people we know who has suffered from pain and loss is Latisha. Almost a year ago Latisha was in a car accident. Of all the people in the car Latisha’s mom was the only one that lost her life. One Tuesday night at our Bible study I got to talk with Latisha. I asked her how she had been doing lately. She looked at me for the first time that night and I saw the exhaustion and the sorrow behind her once bright eyes. My heart sank as she began to tell me how she had been since the accident. She told me about the nightmares she had been having, how she didn’t know what to do about them. “I’ve tried dream catchers,” she explained, “but they just don’t work.” I sat there and slipped up a silent prayer to heaven. “Have you prayed?” I asked. Latisha looked at me. “I’ve tried,” she replied, “but my mom hasn’t answered.” I was at a loss for words. How could I tell this girl that she couldn’t pray to her mom without deeply cutting her? I carefully tried to explain that it was okay if she talked to her mom but the only one she could really pray to was God. By God’s grace what I said she listened to and she understood what I meant. With a troubled look Latisha asked me, “How can I talk to God? He’s so powerful, how could He understand. And I wouldn‘t know what to say!” I explained to Latisha that God was a God who loved her and was always there for her. Now her eyes shone with a new hope. The pain and loss was still there but knowing that she was still loved and that she was not alone helped. We prayed together and then she went to do a craft. That night the craft was coloring on pillowcases. As I sat down an idea came to me and I picked up a pillowcase. On the pillowcase I wrote a prayer. Later that night I gave the pillowcase with the prayer to Latisha. That way whenever she woke up with another nightmare she could have the prayer right on her pillow. Latisha went home with a renewed faith, and a renewed hope. My heart leaped at the thought that peace had been restored to this suffering child.

“He will respond to the prayers of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.”- Psalm 102:17

Dear Father,

Thank you for listening to the prayers of your children. Thank you for giving us comfort and hope and faith. I pray for Latisha, she has seen so much sorrow in her short life Lord, I pray that you will cover her with your love and that she will know you are there with her. I pray that her nightmares will come to a cease and that she will sleep in complete peace.


Jack Spencer Donates Land to Sacred Road for Church Building!

Hey Ya’ll!

We have exciting news! The Lord has heard your/our prayers for land on which to build a church/multipurpose facility! Two weeks ago at Tuesday Night Bible Study (Hope Fellowship) the adults and teenagers and I spent some time praying that God would provide land for us. A few days later Jack Spencer (take a few minutes to read his “backstory” below, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it will be great!), who was at Bible Study the previous Tuesday, called me to say that he wanted to donate up to 160 acres to Sacred Road so we could build a church! You can imagine the shock I went through! I was light headed for 30 minutes.

It turns out that Jack, who is technically homeless, owns about 1000 acres in Washington and Idaho! For the last two weeks we’ve been meeting with Jack and he has been getting the paper work in order, etc. We’ve been looking at maps and talking about different locations and possibilities. We have all settled on a 40 acre property which is eight miles from White Swan. Today Mary, Jack, and I went to property and walked around it, had a great talk, and prayed together about all of this.

Mary and I were both reminded of a quote from an elder in the Yakama Nation Cultural Center which states:

"Good counsel is a mark of wisdom, whether in the family or the circle of society. Good counsel is modest not assertive; considerate of the opinion of others. How we shall proceed together is as important as what we now should do. Good counsel will create a consensus which unites."

Please pray that the Lord would provide good counsel to all who are involved. Jack and I meet with a land use lawyer on Friday to talk about different ways to proceed and the wisest course of action. I feel the tension of living between two very different worlds. In the Indian mind you never refuse a gift. In the white man’s mind you have to do “due diligence” in a situation like this. Traditional Indians don’t want to wait around or waste time once they make up their mind to do something. They want to “do it and get it done with” because death is so prevalent and there is a strong awareness that tomorrow is not promised to us. In the white world you “conduct feasibility studies” which take a while.

Please pray that we are able to navigate this cross cultural transaction in a way that deepens our relationship with Jack instead of straining it and in a way that benefits the overall ministry. It’s a bit of a minefield but it is a great problem to have!

This morning Mary, Jack, and I met and walked around the property he wants to donate (photos above). We had a great visit, talking and dreaming about how the Lord may use this in the future, and prayed together.

For more photos go to our Flickr site at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sacredroad.

We'll keep you posted on the progress!

Grace and Peace,


The Back Story on “Wildman Jack”
(first posted 11/07 but don't miss the update at end)
I first met Jack at a Huckleberry Feast at Uncle Sam’s (Sam Smartlowit). Jack was cooking an elk he had killed in the mountains. We hit it off and talked about hunting. Jack’s “Indian name” is He’cus-win (“Wildman”)! He is a wild man. Jack is a big time hunter and fisherman but he gives 95% of the meat and fish away to needy neighbors and family members. He drives an old truck which normally has a bunch of hooves and antlers sticking out of the back and blood running down the side! When he comes by to visit he gets out and reaches in the back of the truck and pulls out and entire elk or deer leg (femur + tibia + fibula+ hoof) and tosses it to my dogs. (Yes, we have elk femurs laying around our yard… one of the joys of living in the country is not having to try to keep your yard looking as good or better than the neighbors, so elk bones are “ok”). Needless to say, my dogs love Jack. Jack is normally dressed in coveralls or jeans and a flannel shirt. He is usually covered in blood from cleaning large game or salmon.
When Jack first started coming to Hope Fellowship (Tuesday Night Bible Study in the longhouse) he was nervous. At first he would only stay for dinner then leave. Then he started staying for the singing time. Eventually he came in with the adults for the Bible Study. The first night someone offered him a Bible but he kept his arms crossed, his chin high, and shook his head. He didn’t seem to want to even touch it (he is very traditional). That week he got so excited about the lesson that he was sitting wide eyed on the edge of his chair, hanging on every word.
The next week he took a Bible then realized he did not have his reading glasses. One of the ladies that attends regularly jokingly offered him hers (which were purple with pink polka dots). I thought to myself, “There is absolutely no way Jack/Wildman is going to wear women’s glasses to read a ‘white man’s book’!” Guess what! I was wrong! Jack put on those purple and pink glasses and read the passage for us that night! Once again he was enthralled with the lesson (we were studying the conversion of Paul in Acts). He asked great questions and made good observations as we discussed the passage. When we finished he came to me and asked if he could take the extra hand outs with him to the sweat lodge to re-teach the lesson to his elders, friends, and cousins! He has done that several times since then and is trying to get them to join us on Tuesday nights. He has been bringing his son and grandson a good bit.
Since then we have roofed Jack’s mother’s home. I’ve had the chance to go elk hunting with him and several of his relatives. And Jack and I have had many good discussions and times of prayer together.
Jack has been working down by the Columbia River all summer in a cannery and we have really missed him. He normally calls me on Wednesday to ask what we discussed at “church” and to say he was sorry he couldn’t be there. Recently, he said he started to go down and sit by the river and pray during the time we are meeting in the longhouse. I told him about how Jesus said he was the “living water” and how, like the “ultimate river”, He brings life to us and is powerful and beautiful. I was hoping Jack would meditate on Jesus as he sat by the river in the future. Jack responded by saying, “Chris, you know I believe it. I believe all you say is true!” I encouraged Jack to think and pray about being baptized since he believes. He said he would and that he wanted to talk more about it with me soon.
Please pray for Jack and his son, Cody, and grandson, Dante. Pray for their salvation. I have a hunch that Jack might be our first elder in the church here one day!

11/5/08 Update on Jack
A week ago at Tuesday Night Bible Study we came to Genesis 19, the destruction/judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. You may imagine, I was dreading teaching on that topic. As it turned out, the concept of judgment is a powerful backdrop against which the Gospel becomes very attractive! I emphasized that God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah because He is good and that the evil cities deserved to be destroyed. I also explained that we, as sinners before God, deserve to be “wiped out” but that Jesus took our place and was “wiped out” in our stead on the cross. He endured the wrath of God so that we would not have to if we accept the gift of forgiveness and cleansing and transformation that is offered in the Gospel.
As I was explaining the Gospel in this way, I looked up and saw tears running down Jack’s face! He has now said that he believes the Gospel and in talking with his son, Cody, and his grandson, Dante, about getting baptized soon!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween at Totus Park

Mary wrote this after the Halloween Party last Thursday:

On the 30th we went out to Totus Park for our annual Halloween party there. The weather wasn’t too cold or too windy, and we had a great time planned. The kids showed up right away and were so excited. We forgot our bouncy balls and jump ropes; but even so, the children were happy to be with us, to run around, hug, talk, and make crafts. I had a child in my lap every moment of the afternoon, but they didn’t fight over it, they shared me!
The paradox of our children’s ministry at Totus Park is seeing the joy and hearing the heartache. Sometimes the child’s heart is not aching when they tell me what’s going on in their lives, but mine feels like it will break. We smiled, and laughed, and shared, and hugged on one another that afternoon. Some of the kids even brought up their sweet memories of the years of ministry and the past summer of short term teams. We had a snack together and tried to listen to Chris tell the story of the pumpkin patch parable (about how Jesus can take the yucky stuff out of us, put a smile on our face and a light inside). During the afternoon I heard about tough times in many of the homes around. I saw Greg at home, he’s been sick, he’d had a seizure on his front steps and still had a big knot on his forehead from falling. His dog, Bigfoot, whom we've known for over five years, can’t walk anymore from being beaten by someone one night recently. I saw one family of children who had returned from Seattle only to settle back into Totus where there are now 11 people and a few addicts in that home. I worked with two little girls who will have to go into winter in their house which has most of the windows broken out.
I can’t have the joy without the heartache and I can’t have the heartache without the privilege of loving and praying for these dear children. Pray with me that the Lord is drawing many, many of these precious children to Himself.