By Handel Smith and Ryan Chapman
As we drove through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation community of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the unimaginable reality of a community plagued by alcoholism, domestic abuse, and unemployment was alarming and difficult to process. In the midst of chaos, sadness, and confusion, we reached out to Christ. New hope and encouragement are being restored, due in part to a partnership formed by Church of God Ministries (CGM) with those serving our Native American brothers and sisters.
From September 30 to October 3, 2014, three leaders from Wounded Knee and Allen, South Dakota, as well as Scottsbluff and Alliance, Nebraska, met for initial training in the Celebrate Recovery program, led by Handel Smith, chief domestic ministries officer at CGM. Celebrate Recovery is an addiction recovery program based on the Beatitudes. In addition to the training, there were individual meetings with leaders from each of the ministry sites discussing ways to advance the kingdom ministry in their spheres of influence. Everyone was challenged to embrace this great opportunity to serve.
Led by Stanley and Sylvia Hollow Horn, Church of God Ministries and Place of Promise—a community outreach program led by Emily Clark—held meetings to explore the unfolding opportunities at Wounded Knee. An advisory board is being formed and will soon meet in Rapid City, South Dakota, to address the following: a unified ministry strategy for Wounded Knee Church of God and Place of Promise, infrastructure development, accountability, adequate staffing needs, and financial needs.
The challenges are enormous, but we see great opportunity for making an impact that brings hope by focusing Jesus as the subject. As the journey continues at Wounded Knee, we pray that the impact be felt and spread to our other Native American Ministries sites and beyond.
November is Native American Heritage Month. Learn more at www.nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov.