By Denice Phillips
ALLIANCE — Reverend Don Mink came to Alliance [Nebraska], he said, “On the last day of 1970,” and has become a familiar and welcoming presence here over the last 42 years.
Born in Missouri, Mink attended school in Texas and, along with his wife Patricia and their family, has spent most of his life devoted to the Indian Mission Church of God, working to make a difference in the lives of others in the community through his ministry and practice of Christian faith and teachings.
With soft-spoken and gentle nature, Mink states simply, “I am a minister. My primary job is to share the love of Jesus, the message of Jesus,” and he enjoys many meaningful friendships with the people he ministers to.
“We’ve made a thoughtful commitment to the very poor in the community.”
Mink retired about five years ago, though he assists his daughter Linda Abold as co-pastor, and continues to remain very active in the daily tasks of the church.
“I’m still happy to be here and doing what I’m doing.”
He and Patricia have been married for 58 years, bringing up two daughters, an adopted daughter and adopted son who is of Native American heritage.
“The Lord has been good to us — we had love to share, resources to share,” he said of their choice to adopt children, expressing his feeling that in nurturing a blended family of their own, it has created a common bond with the members of the church, many of whom, he explained, also have interracial relationships.
“We’ve had a good life — we really are part of the family.”
Mink is recognized for his tireless efforts to offer rides to families in need of transportation as necessary for business meetings, errands, doctor appointments, or funerals, for example.
“I usually leave the house about 5:45 each morning, giving rides to workers and school children,” he said, describing his daily routine.
“We take about 30 kids to school every day.”
“We found out that if the children have a ride they are more likely to go to school than if they don’t have a ride.”
“It’s really important they stay in school,” he said.
“I try to rest for an hour in the afternoon, then I go until about nine o’clock,” — even making trips to the emergency room in the middle of the night if need be. At the age of 77, he has hardly slowed down since his retirement.
“The needs are so great,” said Mink, explaining that this past year has been especially difficult for many families in his care.
“They just can’t make ends meet to afford a car.”
“Over the years we’ve seen that bodies go back to the reservation [for burials], and we try to make a trip there twice a month — a lot of our families have relatives there.”
“Back in the ‘80’s we were on the reservation for three-and-a half years,” which helped Mink and his family begin and maintain the special connection with the people living at Pine Ridge.
“The children,” he said, “call me grandpa, and call my wife grandma.”
Offerings from parishioners, friends, and local churches assist with fuel expenses. “Recycling aluminum cans is one of our sources of revenue.”
“We are a ministry of faith,” said Mink, noting that whatever is needed, is provided in due course.
“I really do enjoy my work. That’s a pretty good thing when you can like what you do.”
Mink offers an analogy about being recognized for his contribution to the community:
“When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself — someone had to help him get up there.”
“I’ve had a lot of help along the way.”
Article used by permission of the Alliance Times-Herald. Originally published on February 11, 2013.