by Kathy Marson
SPOKANE, Wash., December 22, 2015 - Reaching Native Americans for Jesus is what All Nations Warriors for Christ* at Spokane Central Adventist Church does in a variety of ways and most recently through their Christmas Program.
They began holding a Christmas program for Native American families in 2004 with 50 people in attendance. The event grew and grew and in 2013, 250 people attended. Last year it was cancelled due to lack of funds but this year they determined to hold the Christmas program including an Indian Taco meal and presents for the children.
So they began in June to raise funds through yard sales and a car wash. They also had a tree of sharing in the church which brought in over 40 gifts. Church members offered to make the fry bread, enchiladas and Spanish rice; and by God’s grace, the fundraising and the monthly donations allowed them to hold the Native American Christmas Program.
They advertised with flyers at the Indian Center and Indian Clinic and used the Internet and word of mouth. Ninety children and 110 adults came to the event held in Central ‘s fellowship hall.
The Native children loved dressing in Bible costumes to put on an impromptu nativity scene. Everyone sang Christmas Carols with gusto and the children all received a present. There were ten presents awarded to adults in attendance by drawing names.
Those who attended to the Christmas program were given a chance to share what additional ministries they were interested in. Fourteen indicated they would enjoy a health fair this spring and 18 would like to receive a Native Health Magazine. Twenty-four are interested in children’s programming and 25 requested Bible studies. Spokane Central Church is excited to follow up on these interests.
Working behind the scenes to put on the Native American Christmas Program is a powerful duo, Loretta Kern and Denise Ellenwood.
Loretta is very committed to Native American work and helping children know Jesus. Even before she had accepted Jesus in her heart she brought her children to church. For this Christmas Program she handed out flyers on busses and wrapped all the presents. On top of that she holds a Native American Bible Study and helps at the Better Living Center food bank. Kids are automatically drawn to Loretta. Nine neighborhood children come to Spokane Central Church. They asked Loretta to sit with them at the potluck. One asked her who was in the picture on the wall. When he learned it was Jesus, he asked, “Who is Jesus?” Loretta told him the story. That day the pastor talked about God in the sermon and one child asked Loretta, “Is God in this place?” Once when she asked a little girl what she wanted for Christmas, the girl said, “Food to eat.” Loretta feels it is her God-given mission to help children and Native Americans learn more about Him.
“The Christmas Program is so needed and I’m excited to see so many Native Americans together,” said Denise. “This is the biggest Native American Christian event in our area and it makes me happy to see people happy and enjoying themselves. Gatherings are important to Native Americans, and to celebrate the birth of Jesus with every nation, tribe and people is exciting. Denise is passionate in her work with Native American Ministries. She believes that the key to ministering to Native Americans is in reaching the children: taking care of them, loving them, and teaching them.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” Matthew 19:14.
*All Nations Warriors for Christ is an Adventist Community Services ministry.