We began the year in Farmington, NM, then Lawton, OK, then Silver Spring, MD, ending in Muskogee as our final gathering of 2005.
Muskogee was both wonderful and weird. At the core we heard some of the best messages of the year. Around the core all kinds of things went haywire from monies stolen to recording equipment burning up. Though Bacone College worked extremely hard and invested generously it just didn't get off the ground. However, we have heard some very powerful testimonies from people whose lives were positively impacted as Native followers of Jesus.
Throughout 2005 hundreds of people heard a fresh word from God about the importance of relationships among diverse people as a key to advancing the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives, communities and world. We were reminded that First Nations people have been given a unique anointing at this time to dramatically and powerfully be used by the Holy Spirit in world missions. We were also encouraged that there is now a firmly established "culturally accommodating indigenous Christian movement" in North America. Many of us have been painfully and sacrificially laboring for this time the past fifteen years.
When Katherine and I started Wiconi barely nine years ago, we were one of a handful of "contextual" ministries in the land. Today, there are many dozens of new and emerging ministries that are making a difference for Jesus Christ in our Native communities in a new way. After twenty MN1V Celebrations all across North American since 1998 that have impacted thousands of people and helped make a way for a movement, we are praying about the future of these unique gatherings. It is time to wait on the Lord, perhaps needing to retool future gatherings as we journey together in Christ. In the next few weeks we will offer a "Best of '05" collection of messages from the MN1V Celebrations in CD and DVD formats.
Here Kath and I are in Maryland for our 19th MN1V. It was excited to reconnecting with the Piscataway and other tribal people in this region. Pastors Charles Schmitt and Guy Carey from Immanuel's Church were a great blessing to us in hosting and serving us. We were so happy to connecting with Bryan McLaren and the global emerging church network he represents. I believe our First Nations scholars have some important perspectives to contribute to the development of the emerging church movement and its relationship to missions and its generational ethos.
The historic centers of global Christianity have shifted away from Europe - England, France, Switzerland and European derived nations - America, Canada, Australia, etc., to the continents of Africa, Asia and South America. In part this is reflective of a balancing of western worldview dominance. In the midst of this unparalleled time of transition in our Christian faith, the biblical perspectives of our First Nations leaders continue to emerge as vitally needed for today's church. This shift is a very difficult one for the church in America to embrace and adjust to. However, if we are to successfully meet tomorrow's challenges, we must equip today's church to be poised to authentically present a biblical faith in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic world. That was the aim or the Silver Spring MN1V. "Please pray for the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who attended."
We were deeply honored to be welcomed to the land by the tribal leaders of the region. A very historic event took place when the actual walking stick of Chief Geronimo (it has been authenticated) was returned to the Ft. Sill Apache people by our friend Curt Alderton. Curt pastors in Ignacio, CO, on the Southern Ute Reservation. It is a long story, but the walking stick came into his possession very providentially in 2003 and he had been praying for the right time and situation to return it. The Holy Spirit then opened the doors for it to be returned during our MN1V conference.
This is a small but significant step toward healing the hearts of the people in this area. The Ft. Sill leaders then honored us with some traditional songs as Curt (an Anglo brother) returned the stick and we gifted them with Pendleton blankets.
I was very blessed to have my dear friend, Francis Frangipane, join us here in Lawton. He brings such a love and passion for the unity of church, often in such a humorous way. People here were excited about the message he brought here to the Lawton area.
On Saturday, a Samoan church from the area led worship in the morning and shared their dances in the evening during our multi-cultural worship celebration. We had several traditional Kiowa and Comanche singers who shared their songs, including some old hymns.
Continue to pray that God's abundant anointing will continue to break strongholds in people's minds to see the "one new person" we are in Christ through our love and commitment to the Creator in Jesus Christ."