Back - Richard Zane Smith/Wyendot, Richard Twiss/Lakota, Dan LaPlante/Lakota, Jolene Begay/Lakota, Jerry Yellowhawk/Lakota, Art Begay/Latoka, Leta Rector/Cherokee
Front - Elmer Yazzie/Navajo, Fern Cloud/Lakota, Jonathan Maracle/Mohawk
They Pow Wow'd in China
As the curtain opened, the silhouette of two men began to take shape through the blue fog shrouding the stage. The rhythm of their drum could be heard throughout the auditorium where more than a 1000 Chinese people waited for the "Red Indians." From each side of the stage came a dancer to the applause and cheers of the audience. First, from the right, emerged an older male traditional dancer, then from the left another traditional dancer. Then alternately a grass dancer, fancy dancer, woman's traditional dancer, and two women fancy shawl dancers.
In the humid climate of Yunan, a southern province in the Peoples Republic of China eleven First Nations artists and dancers recently shared their cultural talents. The Native Warriors Team was part of an international group of performers and artists who were invited to share their God given talents with the Chinese people.
Richard Twiss invited several Native believers to become part of their team that performed in a variety of venues in the city of Kunming. Team members shared their traditional dances, drum songs, painting, pottery, played flutes, and music. One member said though they had been to Germany on a trip, he was humbled and made to feel unworthy by the incredible positive response the team received from the Chinese people.
A young Chinese woman who served as an interpreter, wrote in her best English to Mohawk team member, Jonathon Maracle, "Your great music give me a deep impression and your Indian story. I really appreciate what you have done." Jonathon is founder and leader of Broken Walls, a Canadian music group from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. He and Kris DeLorenzi sang contemporary and traditional Mohawk chants on various occasions to very appreciative listeners. Many of the students especially enjoyed Jonathon's beautiful and life like bird whistles and flute playing on the Loon Song.
Another Chinese interpreter said to Dan LaPlante, a Lakota grass dancer, "Other performers good . . . but Indians, you are the best." This was a significant compliment in light of the fact that more than 200 professional artists and performers from 20 different countries participated in the festival. This comment was heard repeatedly throughout the eight days by team members.
There was an immediate bond between the Chinese people and the First Nations delegation that transcended time, history, distance, culture, and language. Because Yunan Province has the highest percentage of indigenous tribal groups in China, there were many connections with the people as fellow tribal members. This was highlighted on one occasion, when the team performed at a major arts university. The team would share a dance, and then students from one of the local tribes would share a dance. This exchange of songs and dances went on for over two hours and concluded with the everyone dancing and laughing together and the team giving gifts to the senior faculty members.
Elmer Yazzie, a Navajo traditional Yucca brush painter commented, "There was a spirit of trust between us; a kindred spirit was obvious." He said, "I was deeply touched by the Chinese. Several times I cried for us our people and their people."
One of the singing groups in the festival was the well known American quartet, Acappella. One of their singers, Gary Moyers, made this observation about the First Nations team. He said, The Chinese seemed overwhelmed by the Native cultural expressions. First Nations people have, over the years, attained a level of respect and "mystique" that is very attractive to others." Gary felt to have the cultural expressions presented so openly was a powerful tool because of the spiritual basis. He noted, "To have these cultural expressions equated with Jesus Christ is very powerful!
Fellow Acappella member, Ken McAlpin said, "I think the Chinese were in awe of your culture. Because both your cultures have so much in common they just loved it!"
Fern Cloud Chief Eagle, a Dakotah traditional and hoop dancer drew great applause and appreciation from audiences. Her hoop dancing was a huge favorite with the people. Fern said about her dancing, "When I dance, I do it as unto the Lord. I never think of dancing as performing. It's more like worship and celebration to me." She was significantly impacted by her time in China. She said of her experience, "I was made aware of how short I fall from being what God intends for me. It has been a tremendous realization of responsibility and spiritual growth in Christ."
Members commented on how honored they were to have Dr. Jerry Yellowhawk, a Lakota traditional dancer as the elder for the team. Several of the Chinese commented on what a wise and calm man he was. After witnessing the response the team received Dr. Yellowhawk said, "I believe that our redeemed cultures can be used in world missions. I am deeply moved with compassion. We must endeavor to reach our world with Good News at any cost." He also said, "I was surprised that the Chinese peoples responded to our Native traditional songs and dancing in such a positive way."
One afternoon, several of our dancers and singers were invited to make a special presentation at a deaf and blind school. Both the deaf and blind were able to receive something they enjoyed immensely. The team led many of the smiling students and faculty in a friendship dance around the multi purpose that soon found all laughing, clapping and cheering one another at the end, again with the team giving gifts to faculty.
At an early morning assembly, 1500 brightly dressed six to twelve year old children very impressively marched with great precision in exact formation into the school courtyard for a program with the team. Their entrance and corporate morning exercise regimen was a program to watch in itself. At one point one of our dancers danced down an aisle, with feathers, ribbons, and fringe flying, out into the young crowd. The children were mesmerized by him and got so excited many of them began to get up and dance with him and soon formed little serpentine lines and were dancing around the courtyard. The teachers had a bit of a hard time bringing the children back to order. The team was surprised as a few of the children sang a song in English especially prepared for the them Ten Little Indians. At the finish each team member was given a gift by the students.
Richard Zane Smith, a Wyendot potter was invited into the homes of several of his Chinese students to share a meal with their families. He said, "I called the students my family brothers, sisters, cousins and when I did their faces lit up and shined with warmth." Richard said he saw many similarities of traditional beliefs about the family, earth, and self control between the two peoples. The trip also deepened his faith in Christ. He said, "To join with other First Nations brothers and sisters in Christ in song and dance was like a soothing oil of joy and unity in my soul. Something good has happened to me in China. I'm still not certain of it's purpose but I feel a brightness, a light in my soul that I cannot express without tears of joy."
All the team members felt that God, through their China experience, had confirmed to them in a very clear and undeniable way that He has indeed prepared the way for First Nations believers to go into all the world as ambassadors of Good News. Already team members have received invitations to Cameroon, Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa, Israel, Switzerland, Germany, England, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia.
The group demonstrated how First Nations believers with a common vision can work as an effective team even though from diverse backgrounds. Members represented Wesleyan, Baptist, Nazarene, Assembly of God, Charismatic, and Pentecostal traditions. Various tribal backgrounds were also represented, Mohawk, Lakota, Cherokee, Wyendot, and Navajo. Reaching lost people with the Good News was the vision and purpose that drew the team together, not lifting up culture, denomination, or religious traditions.
Jesus Christ is the Waymaker and He unmistakably made a way for this team into the hearts of the Chinese people in a very deep and impacting way. It was obvious from the Chinese peoples overwhelming response that God will use the traditional cultural expressions of dance, drumming and singing, language, regalia, and the fine arts of First Nations people for His honor and glory. Perhaps then, the question should be asked, what First Nations believers will take advantage of this global opportunity to go into all the world and make a difference in the lives of unbeliever by communicating the Good News through the bridge of their God given cultural expressions?
Lhasa, Tibet - Buddist munk blowing shofar
Richard Twiss/Lakota, Jonathan Maracle/Mohawk, Rachel Soto/Lipan Apache, Wyndigo, Jodi Scott/Cherokee, Robert Soto/Lipan Apache, Dan LaPlante/Lakota
Report on the Dancing Our Prayers Team to Switzerland, France, & Germany
We saw in part the fulfillment of what I, and many others, have been saying for the past few years, that, no other people group is so uniquely positioned for world evangelism, as First Nations people are today. I led a wonderful, fun loving, and spiritual team of 10 First Nations pastors, evangelists and believers recently across the Atlantic to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Switzerland, France, and Germany. This was one of the few evangelistic outreaches from the North American Church to Europe where a group of Native people has taken advantage of the remarkable European fascination with Native culture. Various team members were invited who not only have a deep love for Jesus and were spiritually mature, but also were gifted in the areas of traditional Native dance, drumming, and singing, who had beautiful dance regalia.
The team gave 25 ministry presentations in just nineteen days, in 13 cities in three countries. We danced, drummed and shared Christ at the World Expo and the International Children's Festival in Hanover, Germany; in numerous public grade and high schools; a wide range of churches; a school for physically and mentally challenged children; a large public park on Lake Geneva, in Lausanne, Switzerland; village community centers; and a large Ethiopian/Filipino International Church in Frankfurt, Germany. Both believers and non believers alike were touched by the presence of the Lord during our ministry times.
Several nationally respected Swiss church leaders witnessed our team in action. Here is what Pastor Guy Chautems, former pastor of the Reformed Church at the Cathedral of Lausanne for many years had to say about our team.
"Yesterday some people from my parish and I had the joy to attend a meeting with a group of North America Indians who came with the richness of their culture to help bring us the message of the Gospel. It was a large crowd and immediately we were conquered by the discovery of their dance and song traditions that we have heard about since our childhood.
We received in a refreshing and new way, truths that we already knew but that had not so much impact in our lives. I think that in our post modern society our Native friends have a great future in front of them as far as the sharing of the Gospel is concerned. To those who pretend that the rehabilitation of these Indian traditions and cultures have nothing to do with the Christian faith we would like to remind them of the vision of John in the Book of Revelation who saw that in the end of times the nations of the whole world will bring their richness to the Lord of the Universe. Among these treasures are certainly the cultural richness. So our friends have given us a taste of the coming Kingdom. Thank you for offering us through your skills something that deeply belongs to your life."
Whenever not forbidden or discouraged by institutional or government policy, an invitation was given for people to come forward and give their lives to Christ. Team members, Pastor Robert Soto and Jonathon Maracle, estimated that more than 120 people came forward to accept Jesus as savior during the various outreach meetings in Switzerland alone. Many more came after the meetings "officially" ended to talk and pray with team members.
On a beautiful and hot Sunday afternoon in the park on Lake Geneva, thousands of people were enjoying the sunshine with friends and family. Knowing there would be lots of people, we decided to take the gospel to the lake. I asked team members to dress in regalia, and then we set up the drum and did a dance presentation right in the middle of a large grassy area. In a matter of minutes more than 350 gathered around us. At the conclusion Ed LaRose gave an evangelism message and at the invitation, team member, Jonathon Maracle counted 46 children who came forward to pray and accepted Jesus as savior. Swiss pastors and leaders were present to help follow up.
On another occasion Jean Pierre Besse arranged for us to share our ministry at a refugee outreach at the Scripture Union League Bible Camp in Lausanne. More than 200 refugee people from various African, Central and South American, Middle East and Asian countries attended. We drummed, danced, and shared our testimonies. It was a very powerful time of ministry and at the conclusion Ed spoke a challenging message and invitation and 41 people came forward to pray for the first time to accept Jesus as Lord and savior. Jonathan spoke with one man what was a Palestinian who had been living in Kuwait but fled when Iraq invaded there and had fled to Switzerland. Now he was wonderfully saved, as were others from Central America and Africa.
"Many children and teenagers were touched and even turned out to Jesus and God the Creator. My conviction is that God can use the testimony of the Amerindians in Europe (and probably elsewhere) in a very specific way, especially to reach and touch people with New Age and ecologist tendencies. Such people have both admiration and a wrong vision about Indians. They imagine they are in the same philosophy than themselves and they could be very surprised and impressed to see that they can be true disciples of Christ, fully committed to the Kingdom of God without denying their cultural values. Such a demonstration would be able to lead many people back to the Lord in Europe." - Jean Pierre Besse: Pastor of the Reformed Church, Elder in an evangelical Church, Best selling Christian writer, President of Cabes International, Agent at the Scripture Union League
The amazing positive response to the cultural presentations was even more than members expected. Team member, Ed LaRose from the Pomo Nation said, "The past sixteen years I have carried a wooden cross and preached Jesus in 36 countries of the world, and as a native man have always well received. However, as I watched our team share the Lord thru our various cultural expressions, I think the people were shocked to see Native people in full regalia, proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and King. He said, " I think it is a wonderful way for the Gospel to be proclaimed to the nations."
Josquin & Nathania Boschung are the ones who invited us to Switzerland and organized our schedule while there. Here's what they had to say about our team.
"We had the great joy to invite and host a group of Native Americans in our country of Switzerland for ten days. We met Richard Twiss, the leader of the team, at the World Christian Gathering in Rapid City, S. Dakota, in 1998. The Lord had been speaking to us for nine years and we were finally able to invite a team to our country. Richard shared with us the desire of the First Nations Christians to go to the nations of the world with the message of the Good News. We felt this was really the will of God and we invited team.
We saw our people touched in a way we had not seen for a long time. The interest the people here have for the First Nations opened doors that would have been closed otherwise. Their way of sharing the Good News doesn't only touch the intellect of the people but their hearts in a very deep way. They showed a friendship reflecting the Kingdom of God on Earth. For those who have doubts about the authenticity of their ministry we would like to say that all they said was glorifying Jesus as the only Way, the only Hope for mankind.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit were visible not only on the stage but in their every day life. Though they were coming from different denominations, they had a mutual respect and no criticism. We would like to say that they can come back and that the pastors here recognized in them a gift from God for our white occidental post Christian society. They are complementary to the work of the Christians here to touch our people and we hope that the way they saw God touching lives through them will encourage them. The Gospel is definitely not the white man's religion!"
Several Americans living in Lausanne, Switzerland came to the meetings. Here are the observations of two ladies married to Swiss men.
"As an American living in Switzerland, I was privileged, in every sense of the word, to witness firsthand the interaction between this charismatic group of Native American believers with the Swiss people. I was deeply moved, as were many others in the meetings judging from the teary eyes and sobs, to listen to each of them give their personal testimonies of faith. What a natural, down to earth, group of people. We want to thank you profoundly for touching our lives.
Susan Brack, Switzerland
"The Native ministry teams message of forgiveness, reconciliation, acceptance of oneself and of others cultures spoke to my heart. This message was very well received by both adults and children. Many children who would normally hesitate to go ask for prayer were eager to step forward. The beat of the drum and the native singing brought people together to worship. During their ministry trip here, there was a strong sense that God wants to use the First Nations People in a unique and powerful way in building a holy temple all over the world. What a beautiful testimony to see this team dedicated to bring healing to their people and to the nations!"
Judy Badoux, Switzerland
We had the opportunity to interact with numerous pastors and church leaders after our ministry times. Without exception, they were almost lavish with their appreciation of how we presented Christ and how their lives were touched.
On behalf of the people of the Valleacute de Joux, I wish to thank you for coming to us, on Ascension Day 2000, at the Casino du Brassus, in Switzerland, to share with us your amazing Indian culture.
"I would like to begin by thanking you for the quality of your dances. They were a festival of joy, color and happiness. The magnificent costumes, the flawless gestures, and the emotion conveyed through your dances are a tribute to Our Lord Creator. Your festival of sounds unmistakably shows the depth of your gratitude for the life God has given you, and to the beauty with which He has surrounded you. To praise The Lord through dances and music is to acknowledge that we are body and soul. What you do with traditional Indian music instruments is clearly in touch with the praising of God, and it is beautiful and enlightening to the body and to the soul. It is therefore appropriate to thank God for all that we are. Psalm 139 speaks on this subject, and to the beauty of the body that God created for us.
Your songs were a pleasure to my ears. Without question, your music and words took us on a journey to the depth of your faith in God. Psalm 150 urges us to make use of each and every available instrument to praise The Lord.
As for your testimonies, they were unequivocal. No one can doubt your faith. You clearly demonstrated the authenticity of your interaction with Jesus Christ and your will to fully adore Him, to minister for Him, and to serve Him is pure and genuine."
Alain Wirth, Pasteur en la Paroisse de Ĉabbaye, Eglise Evanglique Reformee, Suisse
Team member, Robert Soto shared these reflections of how God touched his heart, as well as his 15 year old daughter, Rachel, during our time together.
"Many things have gone through my mind since our return from Europe. I keep seeing the faces of all the people we touched with the Gospel and with a word of encouragement. I keep thinking of the way the Lord took a simple thing like our Cultural gifts and used them to his honor and glory. I just want to say thank you for inviting Rachel and I. Even Rachel, who does not like speaking in front of people, accepted an invitation to speak at a youth group and share what God did in Europe through all our efforts. When I asked her how it went she said, "It went well. I could not stop. I kept on thinking of more things to say. I think I went to long." Once again, thank you for the opportunity to use the cultural gifts God has given us."
Pastor Robert Soto, Lipan Apache
Gerald Fink and his wife arranged our housing during our stay in Hannover, Germany. They attended several of the meetings and made these observations about our team.
"Robert's hoop dance at the opening ceremony at Jam City, with Dan starting the "wrong" song, "Jesus heal this land," was strongly supported that evening. The hoop dance was a beautiful symbol for eternal life. A victory in the unseen world was won that evening and fortresses were torn down, especially through Richard's short gospel message at the end of the performance: "Jesus is the only one who can heal this land, the only who can save.
Native people, in the eyes of many in Germany, are thought of to live spiritually in a paradise situation. You left the natural religion of your people and started to follow the only way for all people, Jesus. This was against all those in Germany who think one should not evangelize people and should leave them with their inherited religion or even seek spiritual resources not with Jesus but in the religions of the world. Natives have a definite ministry here in Europe among especially so called "name Christian", those who seek a false unity among all the world religions. Jonathan's song titled "Fly", gave a picture to myself, and others I talked to, about what it means to be bold and not be frightened, nor be intimidated by the fear of man. The eagle as a model given us, the only animal not fleeing the storm but facing it right on and flying into the eye of it to, then to be taken by the forces that would crush him to rise up and fly above the storms. We are like eagles and called to face the difficulties of life head on. This was a very timely message for the body of Christ here in Germany.
Children at the pre school and kindergarten were blessed when Robert performed there and shared the gospel and what Jesus had done in his life. We have heard that children shared what they had seen and heard with their sometimes not believing parents. Worship in these Christian kindergartens has been enriched by Jonathan's music, and now they are playing his music CD there since he left."
Each team member commented on how honored they were to be used by God in such a spiritually impacting way. Also we were absolutely amazed by the depth of respect and notoriety Native people have throughout Europe. We were like Hollywood celebrities. On a personal note this was a very special team for me to be to a part of. It was a beautiful picture of brotherly love and respect. The level of humility, willingness to serve with joy when exhausted or uninspired, and spiritual maturity of every member was a reward in and of itself.
Rachel Soto, a 15 year old jingle and fancy shawl dancer, experienced new freedom as a Christian.
She said, "I found out it's okay to show you're a Christian and an Indian, instead of being Christian at church and church activities and Indian the rest of the time. I was honored to minister dressed in my regalia, and amazed to see how eager people were to hear what we had to say. I was especially blessed to lead those two young girls to Christ, and getting to anoint the teens at the camp in Switzerland with oil and prayer."
This is our appointed time as First Nations believers to boldly step out in faith and possess the promises of God for us regarding His purposes for the nations. Please continue in prayer for covenant partnerships to be developed between Native and non Native believers for true partnerships to be formed in fulfilling this amazing opportunity to world mission.
Please continue to pray for peace and Christ-honoring humility to be demonstrated as the controversy about the use of First Nations Cultural expressions continues across the land. God has a plan and purpose in it all. I think we must now enter a new level of maintaining brotherly love and become more focused in our efforts at unity by following the Biblical mandate to, "strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
God is moving in amazing ways in Pakistan. I was amazed and shocked to experience the wonderful move of the Holy Spirit that we did on our ministry trip to Pakistan. It is a nation ripe for harvest. Knowing of its Islamic rule and past support of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, I had no idea of the magnitude of the vibrancy and growth of the church. Little has been written about it.
Our team consisted of team leader Duncan Campbell, Pastor David Gomez-Karuk, Bryan Brightcloud-Chiricaulla Apache, Ed LaRose-Pomo, and myself. This was an awesome team! We each went trusting God and found ourselves thrust into a Book of Acts scenario. We found a people hungry for God and His Word. We saw thousands come to Christ and many miraculously healed. We prayed for hundreds of people and were stretched in our faith and trust.
We left on Wednesday evening from Los Angeles at 1:20 AM overseas. It was 13 hours to Taiwan, then 5 hours to Singapore, then 6 hours to Lahore Pakistan. We are delayed in Singapore and finally arrive on Thursday at 8:30 PM. Bryan, Duncan, David, and I arrive. Ed arrives on Friday at the same time. Khalid and several brothers pick us up. We have good chuckle while waiting in the airport as several Pakistani men think Bryan, David and myself are professional wrestlers coming for a tour of the nation. We are given beautiful fragrant rose petal necklaces and welcomed then we're taken to Khalids home for a light dinner then to the hotel.
Lahore is hot and the air is smoky and acrid as we drive to the hotel. It is terrible air pollution. We arrive at an older hotel with a machine-gun armed and uniform clad security officer sitting outside the front entrance way. Bryan and I room together. The small room is stuffy hot with a barely cooling air conditioner and ceiling fan. The electricity goes off a time or two each night and they start the generators until power returns. Our shower is barely more than a trickle flow of water. A cockroach or two greet us in the morning hours.
The roads are literally jammed with vehicles of all kinds. Autos, busses, mini-van taxis jammed with people, motorcycles with up to six family members aboard, small motorized "rickshaws" with smoky two-cycle engines, horse drawn wagons, donkey pulled carts, and large trucks. All driving with an invisible set of rules, by western standards, with no seeming order, and each with the idea the road is theirs. There are no lanes involved with any sense of definition. It is literally a flow of traffic in one direction with people crossing, stopping, and turning, at whatever speed you can go. Intersections are a remarkable mass of seeming confusion with drivers navigating at will often causing moans of amazement on our part at how close we get to hitting, scraping or bumping into another vehicle and often, person. Every trip is an amazing adventure, definitely not for the faint-hearted. The main highways are another story. Same unspoken rules but faster with passing between cars on a two-lane road and scarier.
The Pakistani believers are so gracious and hospitable. They honored and welcomed us in such a generous manner and with such open hearts. The churches are vibrant, and full of life. Each pastor, evangelist, and worship leader we met was passionate and on fire for God. Some churches that were 2 or 4 people one year ago are now over 100. One of these has planted 3 daughter churches, one of which is also over 100. It is not just one group or denomination that is growing either, but several of them. The ministry we feel connected to has 160 churches, and each has several daughter churches, and all have numerous cell churches. They also have a Bible school equipping up to 50 young people in a two-year program. Khalid, our primary contact, is a humble servant of the Lord with a wonderful family and heart for Jesus and the people.
The Pakistani believers are so gracious and hospitable.
There is a passion and a vision and even a strategy in many of the young men and women we met and worked with. Anwar, a 24-year-old has been writing and inviting me for 18 months to come to Pakistan. What a delight to see how God has used him to establish a powerful youth ministry throughout his region. I look forward to building my relationship with this your man in the years ahead.
The leaders were so open and willing to learn from us. Duncan, who was my point of contact and our team organizer wrote, "Our time in Sialkot was a first for the leaders there. They said they hadn't been this unified in who knows how long? Every comment anyone has heard has been positive toward us, our ministry, our words, the unity we brought in having the particular meetings we held. The response of the crowds at the open-air meetings to the Native American presentations had a profound effect on them. They said they were all blessed. They know we are serious about relationship." Duncan writes further about the Pakistani leaders response to our First Nations team members, "The messages you each taught and preached, the words of prophecy, especially from Bryan, were timely and full of blessings. Those you gifted were so honored and all were blessed by your regalia and dances."
On Saturday we travel three hours to the city of Sialkot for a pastors and leaders meeting. Bryan, David, and I wear regalia and each team member shares briefly. Seventy different ministry organizations are represented among the 250 people attending. We had an interesting incident before the meeting. Right before we were to walk to the meeting hall four of the leaders requested that Bryan and I not wear our regalia and dance, but instead just sing. They were afraid we were going to offend many of the church leaders, because of our long hair, earrings and "new-agey" like costumes. I told them no, we could not do that. We have been wrestling against that kind of thinking, and now we did not come around the world to present less than what God had given us for them. They eventually consented. As I ministered from the Word out of Acts 10, everyone that came to me afterward thanked me for the message. They said it was an important message for the churches of Pakistan. At the meal afterwards, without exception the reports were all very favorable. Some of the cultural issues are the same no matter where.
On Sunday we were at two different churches for the morning and evening. Ed and David team up and Duncan, Bryan and I go together. In the morning we are at a church in Lahore. Bryan and I dress and share some dance and testimony stuff. It is very well received. Duncan teaches. We then pray for the sick. Afterward we are amazed at the high percentage of people who have serious diseases and infirmities. We saw many tumors, eye problems, and internal organ stuff.
On Tuesday we toured the second largest Islamic mosque in the world yesterday and felt moved in our spirits to pray and intercede. More than 100,000 people have gathered in the main square for holy day prayer times. This country has such huge potential to impact the Islamic nations of the world for the Kingdom of Heaven. We believe God has brought us here at the pivotal time in the unfolding our God's purposes for the millions of lost people in these nations. We all have an awesome sense of God's destiny for this nation and our future role here. We are planning now for March of 2004 for an extended national ministry tour. This truly is the time for First Nations people to fulfill our prophetic destiny to "be a blessing to the nations of the earth!" Please continue to pray for good health, God's favor, and an outpouring of God's Holy Spirit with great power for healing and salvation.
Bryan, and Ed travel to church in town of Urguzayanni to speak at church gathering. Duncan and David to go church in Lahore. In Urguzayanni the church conducts an evangelistic outreach in an outdoor walled courtyard. The have advertised in the neighborhood with printed flyers and word of mouth. There are some 200 people sitting on the ground, singing and worshipping when they arrive. The small courtyard is packed with people sitting on the stair and roof of the adjacent building as well standing along the back wall. As they both speak, they are led to prophesy over numbers of people and challenge the believers with a word that the church of Pakistan is called to be a gateway to the nations of Islam. Afterward preaching the Gospel people are invited to come to Christ and nearly 100 respond. They then spend over an hour praying for the sick. Again, they are struck with the seriousness of the diseases. After the usual meal at the pastor's house after the meeting they arrive back at the hotel at 2:00 am.
Bryan Brightcloud ministering in Pakistan
Duncan and David report their meeting was held on the roof of an apartment structure. Some 150 people are sitting on the floor worshipping. They both speak and invite people to accept the Lord and some 12 people respond. They pray for many with numerous infirmities and diseases. They return to the hotel at 1:00 AM.
On Wednesday we switch cities for the evening. David and I travel to Urguzanni and Duncan and Ed are in Lahore. In Urguzanni we again meet in the courtyard. Driving to the area is out of some exotic "Indiana Jones" script with narrow winding streets (alleys) absolutely packed with cars, motorcycles, people, horse carriages, and rickshaws. The side streets are barely wide enough for two "vehicles" to pass and often one has to pull up next to a building or alley so another can pass. We wind our way down an alley and end up at the entrance to the pastor's house. After a quick snack we walk over to the service down several more dark, unlit alleys. We can hear the sound of worship as we draw closer echoing down the alleyways. Like the night before it is again packed. We teach for a few minutes on "Body life: and then have people pray for one another for healing. We still pray for several dozens of people. One in particular is a demon-possessed fellow. While I am speaking he stand and covers his ears while grimacing. During the prayer time several gather around him and seriously go to prayer. I lay hands on him and simply pray and speak to the demon declaring the Word of the Lord.
As in all our public meetings the women sit on one side and the men on the other. Women always wear the traditional Pakistani two-piece dress with a head covering in service. Half the men wear western style (not cowboy) dress shirt and tie and the others the traditional Pakistani pant and long shirt "kamiz."
We believe God has brought us here at a pivotal time in the unfolding our God's purposes for the millions of lost people in these nations. We all have an awesome sense of God's destiny for this nation and our future role here. This truly is the time for First Nations people to fulfill our prophetic destiny to "be a blessing to the nations of the earth!"
On my last evening, Friday, we again travel to Sialkot for leadership seminars and evening evangelistic outreaches. There are approximately 125 leaders and workers in attendance for the seminar. David, Duncan, and I each teach for 45 - 60 minutes.
Ed LaRose assembled his ten-foot long wooden cross, and along with Duncan and several local believers, carried his cross through city streets and down the road to the meeting location. There was some apprehension how the Muslim people would respond. It was remarkable in that the response was all positive. They witnessed to several people who wanted to talk and Ed had the opportunity to pray with a young Muslim who accepted Jesus as savior.
The evangelism outreach was held under a large roofed basketball/play area at the Presbyterian School. A beautiful wall of colored partitions surrounded the meeting area. The stage was set at one end with carpets on the floor in front of the stage for people to sit on the ground and then chairs. That evening there were about 2,000 people in attendance. I spoke and gave a testimony, Duncan taught and gave an invitation and I prayed as 700 people received Jesus as savior. It was incredible. The next night David Gomez and Duncan spoke to 4000 people then prayed for 1500 people to receive the Lord. Then on the closing service on Sunday 5000 attended as Duncan and David again spoke and prayed for 2000 people to get saved. Two of the pastors there told us the numbers and we tried to count by rows to be accurate in our estimates.
Duncan reported there were numerous testimonies each evening and reports from the pastors. A twelve-year-old Muslim boy came on the stage to tell how he had received sight in his left eye. A seriously manifesting demon possessed girl was also delivered and she also testified of the joy of the Lord.
As you can see, God did great things for us. We will be returning regularly to build long-term relationships with our brethren in Pakistan. Lord willing we will be returning with a large team in March of 2004 for outreaches in several of the largest cities in the country.
This is a glimpse of the prophetic destiny that God has laid up for First Nations believers. We are called to make disciples in all nations. I believe this is the beginning of the birthing of a church planting movement coming from the First Nations among the nations. We have seen repeatedly the effectiveness God has given us to reach the lost through the vehicle of our culture. Now we must move to the next stage of establishing Apostolic networks to equip leaders and plant new churches. This is our Kairos time!
Imagine my surprise when I was informed the brother of the President of Peru had agreed to meet with me to discuss the purpose of my trip to Peru as an Indigenous leader. This man meets nearly every week with the President and his wife for a family gathering and "unofficial business." The wife of the president is responsible for Indigenous and cultural affairs in this nation. (Peruvian President, Todelo, is the first elected president in the history of South America to identify with his tribal ancestry as a Quechua man). As we sat in his very humble surroundings, I gifted him with several items, and then we discussed our experiences and views of tribal sovereignty, economic development, and cultural issues. Though not yet a follower of Jesus, he is very open and I shared strongly that our only hope for a better future laid in the hope of changed hearts through Jesus Christ the "Lifegiver." As I shared with him my vision and plans to return with a team of 20-30 First Nations leaders in August of 2003, he quickly expressed his support of the vision. He said he would be meeting with the president in a few days and would share with him my plans and I could expect his cooperation.
Rett & Sherrill Bragg did an outstanding job organizing my itinerary and meetings with key leaders in the city and country. Plans are now well under way to bring back a significant team in August of 2003 for major citywide evangelistic meetings in the capital city of Lima then send five or six teams to the tribal areas of some of Peru's 23 million First Nations people for several more days of outreach and discipleship training. We have secured several major invitations from key tribal, ministry and political leaders and representatives here in Peru, with more forthcoming. The tribal ministry leaders are most excited about us coming to help disciple and train their leaders and new believers. I can hardly believe that so much happened in so little time!
I met with Flauver Sulca Puchuri, Quechua, and Nat'l Secretary of the Evangelical Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ that has 800 churches, with nearly 400 Quechua pastors who will organize major events in two regions. He said there will be several thousand people for each gathering. He has officially invited us to send as many teams as we can to work with their tribal ministries.
I met several times with Obed R. Alvarez, Ph.D., Vice-Chairman of Third World Mission Association, the largest missions group in the world, who generously offered his blessings and support. He is one of the key leaders in Peru and has developed a significant training center and international network of "national" pastors and is very enthusiastic about working with North American First Nations leaders.
I met with Rosa Cabrera, a national television celebrity and producer who arranged two television and one radio interviews for me on national programs to share about indigenous issues as well as the August 2003 event.
I met with Pedro Ferrera, President of Radio Pacifico and founder of the National Peruvian Prayer Movement and National Prayer Center, who is one of the most well-known and loved leaders in Peru. He owns the largest Christian television network in Peru. He did a half-hour national TV interview with me on his program. God really touched him and afterward he asked me to share for ½ hour at their evening prayer gathering that 300 prayer warriors attended. After my sharing, he then asked me to take his spot as a workshop speaker at the National Pastors Conference the next day. He has offered his enthusiastic support of the event including television promotion and coverage.
At Dr. Alvarez's invitation and arrangement, I shared for ten minutes at the national pastor's conference, what I believe is God's heart for he Church of Peru. Hundreds of pastors from throughout the nation gathered and I challenged them about the missing and needed contribution of their indigenous brethren in fulfilling the Father's heart for the nations. It was met with great applause and cheers. I then shared the vision for the coming of 20-30 North American leaders in August of 2003 for city and countrywide events and again met with great applause.
I met with Jacinto Landeo, National President of Evangelical Pentecostal Church Missions who has officially invited us to send a team their area and will make all the arrangements and said several thousand tribal people will come. I met with James Roberts, Administrator of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (he overseers all of Wycliffes activities in Peru) and offered his support of the vision and gave us some key tribal contacts to follow-up on.
Juan Antonio Turino, President of Rhema Mission International arranged for me to give a forty-five minute presentation at the Evangelical Teachers Training Institute to discuss indigenous issues and the August event. He also arranged for me to give an address to the Anthropology Department, faculty and students, at the University of San Marcos (the oldest in the Western Hemisphere). Juan has agreed to extend an official invitation and is a strong supporter of the vision.
I flew to the city of Ayacucho, a historic area of the Inca Empire and Quechua history, to meet with Walt and Lynne Wood, a missionary couple I've know for a few years who hail from Abbot Loop Christian Center in Anchorage Alaska. They also arranged meetings for me with key leaders. They have agreed to be our logistical coordinators for the Ayacucho event, working in support of Quechua tribal leaders. Ten years ago Ayacucho was a town of ten thousand. Because of the Shining Path Terrorist war, it now numbers over two hundred thousand. Tribal people from the countryside fled the war moving to the city for refuge. I spoke to some 40 people in Ayacucho including 12 pastors from different churches in the morning. I shared a vision for the emerging role of Indigenous people in the earth today that is free of shame and inferiority, and full of grace and dignity, and many of them wept during our time of prayer as everyone rose to their feet to say yes to God's call on their lives to impact the nations.
I was privileged to meet with the Governor of the State of Ayacucho in his office. It was one of those rare times where I wish something I said had been recorded. It was an amazing time where you step under a mantle of true spiritual authority and can sense God standing behind your words. I spoke with clarity of mind into this mans life about who we are as indigenous people, about the hopelessness of the human heart apart from Christ, and the need for a revolution of the heart if our people were to ever have genuine hope for a better future. We shared our peoples' common struggles with dominant culture political ideologies, oppressive religious systems and colonial subjugation, yet always coming back to Jesus as the one who brings true freedom and healing of scarred identities. I affirmed him as the one appointed by God to lead his people with humility and integrity. He is a Quechua man who spoke his language, yet did not identify this until after we were nearly finished. After more than an hour his secretary came in and said the line of people was backing up who were waiting to see him. After hearing of the vision for a team Natives coming from N. America in 2003, he immediately began to ask what he would need to do to have the team come to his region. He then offered an official government invitation to bring the team to Ayacucho. I gifted him and we then finished by praying for him. As I looked at him, he had become teary-eyed and thanked me for our time together and reminded me that he was going to send his invitation. A remarkable time with God and man!
I met with a Quechua leader I'd met several years ago, Joshua Saune and his wife Missy, who is Hopi from New Mexico, to renew our friendship and learn more about the situation among his people the Quechua. The Shining Path Terrorist Group had horribly murdered his brother Romulo and other family members for their faith about ten years ago. He said there are many thousands of their people coming to Christ in the jungle areas and their great need is to plant new churches among their people. It was good to be with him and his family.
What an incredible place Machu Picchu is. It is the ancient Inca "City in the clouds." We traveled four hours by train from Cusco from very cold weather at 11,000 ft. elevation down to about 8000 ft of the high jungles of the Andes where it got very warm and tropical. It's hard to imagine being in the jungle at that altitude. Our old train swayed and clickity clacked along a beautiful mountain river. Macchu Picchu, a temple fortress city, high in the Andes, is located on wide ridge between two peaks. The stonework still baffles modern engineers who cannot figure out how they carved and fitted the rocks so tightly/perfectly, that you cannot fit a piece of paper between these gargantuan boulders which range from many hundreds to several tons in size using only "crude" building techniques. The Inca's were a remarkable people.
Upon arriving in Cusco I went to the local television station for an interview on a local viewer call in program. She asked me a few questions about why I was there and what I thought about Cusco and if some of the challenges among North American tribes are similar to Peruvian. I wore my tradition warship and eagle feather headdress. Afterward the station manager asked me more about our proposed trip in August 2003 and he got very excited about the teams visit. He said how much the people of Cusco would enjoy our team's visit because they had never had North American Indians in their city before and most had never seen one before except in the movies. He committed to promote the event through their television station and to help raise support from the community for free posters and assist with arrangements to secure use of their indoor stadium which would cost us $400.00 and he would make sure the sound equipment and staging was provided at no cost. His friend is a city manager and said he would discuss with him how the city could help support or sponsor our team.
Then we met with the director of the Bible school briefly who just loved the idea because they work primarily with indigenous students and are working so hard to help them develop contextualized approaches to ministry among their people and offered to cooperate fully with us. Then we met with an American pastor who has been in Peru for seven years whose church hosts a dozen or more teams a year and said he would commit to helping us work with the churches in the city and find churches for our guys to speak in, schools for presentations, and outlying village meetings. He is praying our being our Cusco outreach organizer.
Upon arriving back in Lima I did a radio interview that night. The station manager who interviewed me said his home (the station) was my home and he wants to promote the event because he feels it will help Peru work through the issues with her own indigenous people.
The next morning I spoke at the weekly charismatic pastors meeting (FIPAC) and shared the vision of the teams visit. They said they would help support the event and make arrangements and expressed great interest and appreciation for the message I gave. Two of the largest churches in Lima were represented, one has 4000 and the other 6000 members. The associate pastor of the 4000 member church wanted me to stay a few more days so I could speak at their three Sunday services this weekend. Then a wonderful thing happened.
The mission's pastor of the same church had heard me twice and was very moved by the message and challenge. As I shared with him my need for a national coordinator, office space and a phone for people to get more information about the events, he offered to do it all. He said he would take on the responsibility of coordinator and provide an office and receptionist at his church. As we talked more, he also offered to help translate my materials into Spanish through their church and create a three-minute promo video in Spanish. Amazing! Several other pastors spoke with me afterward saying they would like a Native pastor in their church and looked forward to the team's arrival. The head of FIPAC, pastor of the 6000-member church, said he would work together with me to help make the event a success in the city.
Then I spoke to a packed out class of students and faculty of the Anthropology Department at the University of San Marcos. It was a great time teaching about Native history, values, and customs to these very eager students who asked some very astute questions. I concluded by saying to them that political ideologies and structures were important, economic development needed, and social equality necessary, but without a spiritual foundation, the human heart would remain the same, greedy and full of selfishness, and human societies would be subject to their flawed leaders. I said what was needed was a spiritual revolution and told how many of us Native leaders have become followers of Jesus and through Him have had our hearts changed to love, do justly and love mercy. The professor in charge of the department was very impressed and generous with his appreciation and invited our whole team to come to the university when we return.
Finally at 11:00 that night at the airport, I was able to sit down with the two tribal leaders who had arrived earlier from the jungle. What humble men of strength and integrity these men are. They both have had to organize efforts to fight the Shining Path Terrorist Groups as they tried to control their tribal areas, lead the way to bring education and economic development to their people, give the Native church leaders a broader vision of the Kingdom, while raising their own families.
The leaders are Raphael Ahuanari, Shipibo Tribe, and Executive Director of the Fraternity of Native Evangelical Church Associations of the Peruvian Amazon Basin. There 18 associations with an average of 30 churches in each, some 520 Native churches throughout the jungle. Ydelfonso & Victoria Campos, Mestizo and Ashinka Tribe. He is Vice-President of the Organization of Ashinika of the Gran Pajonal and she is President of the Organization of Ashinika Women of the Gran Pajonal.
We shared our stories as Native leaders and found many of the struggles similar. After sharing past 1:00 AM, they extended official invitations to bring teams to their respective areas and committed to make all necessary arrangements to organize events for us. They both felt this would be an invaluable help to their people to help them break out of the enemies schemes to keep them ashamed, bound by a sense of inadequacy and inferiority, and still suffering from oppression. They were so thankful about the possibility of seeing their pastors and leaders being taught and equipped by our First nations leaders to succeed as tribal Christians in the bigger "white" world.
As you can easily see in my report, the favor of God was evident everywhere I went. Please pray with us now for everything needed to carry out this "Macedonian journey" from the First Nations people of the North to those of the south in Peru.
A friend reminded me that at our first Many Nations Celebration in 1999 in Kansas City, I shared with some people that it was time for me to start learning Spanish because I had begun feeling a stirring in my sprit that we had a debt to out First nations people of the South. This trip to Peru has confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that as First Nations believers, we have a very real, God-given opportunity to make a difference for Jesus Christ and impact the history of entire nations for the glory of our Heavenly Father!
Our aim is to take 25-30 First Nations folks to Peru the first two weeks of August in 2003. I want to extend an invitation to my First Nations brethren to prayerfully consider joining me for this historic ministry tour. We will have major citywide stadium outreaches in the nations capital of Lima, and Ayacucho and Cusco. We will send teams of four to six to five major tribal centers for discipleship training and evangelistic cultural gatherings in the evenings.
My budget for this national evangelistic thrust will be near $75,000.00. I am looking for financial sponsorship through Christian organizations, foundations, and interested individuals. If you know of any of the above that might be interested, I would be more than glad to contact them. We will have an itinerary, schedule and budget, mostly prepared, by February 2003. I will need seed money over the next few months, as much communication, some travel and arrangements will begin. Please join us in prayer for this historic missions opportunity.
Qeuchua women dancing in worship in Lima outreach