Wow! What an amazing summer we had! When I try to figure out how too effectively communicate what we've seen the Lord doing I am at a loss for words. There is much more to the story than "numbers" but they may help tell the story. The first number I think of is "29". We had 29 of our regular attenders (of Tuesday Night Bible Study) get baptized! In my mind's eye I can still see the face of each as I had the honor of baptizing them. 29 people amounts to about 25% of our regular attenders! On top of that, about ten more people are planning on being baptized in September! The Lord is on the move.
Another number that comes to mind is "2". As I write this, two families are moving to the reservation to join our team full time! The Yarbroughs are currently driving through Montana on their way here. They should arrive on August 15th. The Dempsens are moving out in September! That is four adults and six children ages infant through 16. A total of ten new people will be added to our team over the next month! That brings the total number of our full time team (including children, who contribute in various ways from leading roofing crews, making team week and promotional videos, working with slightly younger children and youth, to being cute/adorable) to 24 people! Amazing!
Another number that gets my attention is "8". Our family (the Granberrys) moved to the Yakama reservation with the desire to be used by the Lord to plant a healthy church 8 years ago. The experts said we wouldn't last two years on the reservation (apparently most pastors don't) but by God's grace we are still here, still reasonably sane, and the church and our team are still growing. Praise God.
Another exciting number is "387". That is how many believers came to serve here in White Swan and on the reservation in Warm Springs, OR combine! The people of God are responding to the needs and the opportunities to love our "first neighbors" well in record numbers (in spite of the lousy economy). We are so encouraged by the overwhelming response (we had to turn about ten churches/team who wanted to come because we simply didn't have the space to put them).
"19" is a special number because that is how many new roofs were completed by teams working in White Swan. The most we have ever done before in one summer was 10! Another great worksite related number is "0". That's the number of serious injuries we have had on worksite over the last nine summers! Can you imagine that?! Literally thousands of people on roofs, ladders, hauling trash, etc. and no significant injuries! The Lord has faithfully watched over all of us.
"Six" is the number of couples who expressed interest in joining our team full time with the desire to move to Warm Springs and facilitate ministry there year round! (I was hoping/praying for one significant conversation with one couple!)
Finally, a number that I am very happy about is "250". That is the approximate number of children who came to one of the Kid's Clubs that we host here on the Yakama Reservation or in Warm Springs. I believe that each and every one of those children experienced the love of Jesus and heard the truth of Jesus (the Gospel) through our teams (the kids call us and our teams "the church people"). One little boy touched my heart last week in Warm Springs. He is about 7 and loves to participate in rodeos (yes, he is an "Indian cowboy"). He is proud to let you know that he has moved up from "mutton busting" (riding sheep) to "calf riding". He is a bull rider in the making. After story time, the story teller asked the children, "What do we learn about Jesus through this story?" Our future bull rider began shouting out various attributes of Christ like: "He is strong! He is faithful! He will never leave us! He does miracles! He is good! He loves us!" and more! None of those answers were exactly what the story teller was after that day, but those answers are exactly what we are after year in year out!
May the Lord raise us a generation of bull riders and teachers, loggers and nurses, fishermen and homemakers, hunters and ranchers, gatherers and preachers, who are above all else lovers and followers of Jesus on this reservation and in Warm Springs, OR and all over the northwest and throughout Native America. And may His Kingdom Come on the Reservation as it is in Heaven. Amen.
The last special number that I'll mention is "20". That's how many years Mary and I have been married (as of August 10th)! What a blessing she is to me and to so many others. What an honor and a privilege to serve together.
Thank you for praying, giving and coming. Thank you for joining us as we join the Lord in what He is doing on the reservations. We could not do it without you.
In Him and for His Kingdom,