Saturday, September 1, 2012

Praying for the Navajo People

Recently I was asked by a missionary from a church that has been working on our Navajo Reservation for a number of years, if I would be willing to write out some prayer requests for our people. I took several weeks to ponder this request as praying for the Navajo people is a tricky thing. It is so easy to focus on, and become overwhelmed by, our needs; unemployment, alcohol abuse, diabetes, broken families, suicides, and the list goes on and on. But I do not think focusing solely on these symptoms and praying only for their relief is all that is needed. Absolutely these issues need to be addressed, but the root, the cause of these symptoms is so much deeper.

For centuries our Navajo people, like all Native Americans, have been told by both the government and the church that we cannot be who we are. We have been told that if we want to live and have salvation, we must become something else. We must become American. And that is a lie. Our country needs us to be who God created us to be. And the church needs us to be who God created us to be. God has given us a unique language, culture, world view and history. They are no better than anyone else's but neither are they any worse. They are different. And in the Kingdom of God diversity is welcomed and different is necessary.

So when you pray for us, I ask you to pray that we will have the strength, the courage and the confidence to be who God created us to be. Also, please pray for the rest of the country and for the broader Church. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they will realize what they are missing when they embrace the worldly value of assimilation instead of celebrating the Kingdom value of diversity. In the Kingdom of God every part of the body is unique and every member is necessary. It is only when the parts of the body are diverse that the body is able to function. I thank you for your prayers and I thank you for your partnership in the Gospel

 Ahe'hee,

 Mark Charles


 P.S. I wrote these prayer requests on behalf of my people (Navajo), but by no means do I think these prayers are only for us. So I invite you to use them in your prayers for all tribes and indigenous peoples to whom you feel they are applicable.

2 comments:

Jennifer Major said...

Ya’a’teeh,

My name is Jennifer Major, I've been following your blog for a while. I enjoy readng what you have to say about Christianity and the Navajo culture.
I was recently in Fort Defiance and Window Rock, doing some research for a book. I attended the Navajo Bible Church on July 22nd. I was there with Karen Antone and her sister Kathy Antone Arbeau.
I'm not sure if you know them or not, but I had the pleasure of chatting with Rena Williams, Jolene Keeto and a few others. I was hoping to interview Mrs Hardy, but the timing didn't work out.

Prior to arriving in Fort Defiance, we spent part of a day at Hweeldi, in Fort Sumner. My two friends are Mohawk/Oneida/Tuscarora, and even though none of us have any Navajo blood(I'm a pasty white Canadian with flaming red hair), we were all quite sickened by what we found.

Then I thought Kathy was going to punch the park ranger. The woman, who shall remain nameless, suggested it was better to feel sad, not mad, after going through the museum and memorial. We could not disagree more. The woman had her heart in the right place, she truly cared deeply about her work educating the public about the horrors of Bosque Redondo/Hweeldi, but it is our personal opinion that she was deluded.

So 3000 people died? Just be sad. Just be SAD??? Holy cow, why not just hug and sing kumbaya too?

Grrrr.


I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and learning as much as I can.

Ahe'hee,

Jennifer Major

Anonymous said...

Ya'a'teeh! Mark Charles, my name is Jessica Moore. I have some questions, not as any criticism, but honest curiosity as to where you're coming from.
I am curious as to your religious beliefs in regards to salvation. I haven't read a whole lot of your posts, but do you believe that Christ died for all peoples to save them from their sins, and that while cultural diversity is certainly far from sin in and of itself, do you believe that a person has to turn from the sins their particular culture may be prone to, in obedient response to the salvation Christ brings? That any follower of Christ cannot be diverse in the sense of any sin which will separate them from fellowship with God?
To illustrate what I mean (perhaps very ignorantly): say there was a tribal ceremony that was in direct discordance with something in the Bible? Would you say that a Christian Native American should choose God's way over the traditional way, or vice versa?

I have been searching a bit for your thoughts on this particular facet...

Basically, I'm asking, do you think hope for a person struggling amid difficult racial problems begins primarily in racial/social reconciliation, or is it first rooted deeply in the reconciliation that all men may share with each other and with God Himself through the work of Christ?

So many questions, I'm sorry! Knowing your answers to this would help me to more correctly understand your meaning and perspective in your articles.

Thanks for all your writing! I look forward to the day in Heaven when all God's people from many nations and cultures praise Him each in their own tongue and style, each one cleansed and made perfect through Christ. :)