Category Archives: Home Missions

Making Waves in South Dakota: Radio Reaches Across Reservation

Tim Wardell on KJCD radio.

By Noel Marquis

In the midst of despair caused by grief, illness, joblessness and substance abuse, God is making waves in Allen, South Dakota—radio waves, to be exact.

Since CHOGnews last spoke to missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell in February 2017, the pastors have witnessed the incredible love of God at work on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the Oglala Lakota Nation. Before the end of 2017, the pastors prayed for direction regarding how Pass Creek Mission could serve God in the coming year. In response, Tim received a vision for a radio ministry that would reach listeners on the reservation and beyond. However, without necessary equipment, the Wardells were left to question how such an extraordinary idea could become a reality. Soon after receiving the vision, Tim was inexplicably inspired to attend a meeting in Pine Ridge; once there, he would realize why. Continue reading

Native American Ministries: Two Generations of Bentleys Leave Lasting Impact

A touching moment for Paul and Kathy Bentley (August 19).

By Carl Stagner

True heart for ministry is unmistakable. Combine that with a love for the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, and you have a recipe for a lasting impact. Such is the case with the combined thirty-two years of Native American ministry by two generations of Bentleys. Paul and Kathy Bentley, followed by Barry and Shelly Bentley, dedicated themselves to making a difference in a hope-deprived land among an impoverished people. As they pass the torch of leadership on to home missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell, we pause to bless the Bentleys and remember their steadfast service. Continue reading

Steadfast in Scottsbluff: An Unwavering Love for the Lord and the Lakota

Louise Deines

By Carl Stagner

Louise Deines is ninety-eight years old. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to love the Lord and the Lakota people. Her ministry through the Church of God in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has stretched fifty years across both seasons of challenge and blessing. Though she was never ordained as a minister, her ministry of presence, teaching, and encouragement has proved vital to home missions in the region. While her qualifications could have taken her anywhere, her heart is with Native American ministry in Scottsbluff. Accolades aren’t what matter to Louise, though she was recently honored for fifty years of home missionary service. What really matters to Louise is love. Continue reading

Honoring 32 Years of Home Missions Dedication

Paul and Kathy Bentley; Barry and Shelly Bentley

By Carl Stagner

Thirty-two years of ministry dedication is no small feat, especially under challenging conditions. While it’s true that the kind of kingdom laborer deserving of recognition is also the kind that acknowledges no need of earthly honor, honor is nevertheless warranted. For more than three decades, the Bentley family has served among the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, without a lot of recognition. Despite the ebb and flow of resources, a society plagued by addiction, and the inescapable loneliness of the remote Upper Great Plains, their resolve could not be shaken. Paul and Kathy Bentley, and Barry and Shelly Bentley, who followed in their footsteps, would endure for the cause of Christ. They were committed. Now the Church of God is committed to honoring these heroes of the faith in a ceremonial celebration on August 19. Continue reading

Multicultural and Countercultural: Native American Ministry in Nebraska

Photo: The installation service of home missionary Jonathan Ervin. Photo courtesy Anita Miller.

By Carl Stagner

The other side of the railroad tracks. That’s where, at the close of World War II, the Native Americans of Alliance, Nebraska, were required to live. A few years earlier, in 1942, extra hands were needed at the Alliance air base. The Army recruited Native Americans as civilian workers for the duration of the war. But eight Native American families remained in town after the war ended, segregated to a four-by-four block section on the south side. Even then, the Church of God took steps that were counter to the culture. Instead of remaining segregated, land was purchased in the heart of the Native American neighborhood to build the Indian Mission Church of God. It was 1952, and the pioneers of Church of God Native American Ministries were unwilling to stay separate from a people that needed the love and saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Opportunities on the Home Front: Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Photo: Young Eagles at Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

By Sherman and Kay Critser

Editor’s note—Sherman and Kay Critser serve as operations directors for Native American Ministries of the Church of God. Their base of operations is Intercultural Chapel Church of God in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Recently they wrote about the many opportunities God has opened up for them to spread the hope of the gospel. The following are a few of their stories.

Memorial service

We have been at Intercultural Chapel Native American mission in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, for four years, and had never officiated a memorial service until February 2017. On a Sunday morning, a call was left on Kay’s phone, which she had left at home, by one of the Native American ladies in the chapel, to pray for her sister-in-law who had been taken to the hospital. Before we would know about this call, however, let alone the request, we received another call to say that she had died just after noon that same day. Continue reading

A Shelter in the Desert: Arizona’s Mission to Navajos

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Photo: Inside Klagetoh Shelter Mission Church of God.

By Emily Ploetz

Out in the remote, high desert of Arizona is a place of worship that has served the community on the Navajo reservation for many years. The Church of God outreach, Klagetoh Shelter Mission, is a guiding light for believers of all generations of local Native Americans. Pastor Ron Woodman has been involved in ministry for over forty years, and officially became the pastor at Klagetoh Shelter Mission in 1992. Since his ordination in Phoenix in 1973, he has been serving people living on the reservation through numerous ministries helping to speak truth and love into sometimes desperate situations. Continue reading

Allen, South Dakota: Learning from the Culture You’re Called to Teach

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Photo: Tim and Kim Wardell with local child.

By Carl Stagner

Near the corner of BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) Road 22 and Allen Road on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, you’ll find a spiritual intersection where cross-cultural connections take place. Tour the region and you’ll be amazed by the vast open spaces and breathtaking vistas, but your jaw will drop at the evidence of destitution that dots the landscape. It’s into the midst of such poverty and a variety of related social ills—alcohol and drug abuse, joblessness, lack of education, general despondency—that Tim and Kim Wardell were called. Not a situation that just anybody would be vying to jump into, it was a golden opportunity for high-impact ministry and teaching. But since the Wardells arrived in September, they’ve discovered that they’re not the only ones with something to teach. Continue reading

Brother Mink’s Fight for a Cure

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Photo: Don Mink (courtesy Renita Buss)

By Renita Buss

I look back at my nine-year old self and remember the first day that my mother and I moved to Alliance, Nebraska. My mother and I moved to Alliance with very little, but my mom continued to have big dreams for both of us. Our hope seemed to spark from the moment we both met Rev. Donald Mink of the Indian Mission Church of God. This is where I was blessed to hear the story of this man’s battle with prostate cancer. Blessed, you may say, is a strong word to use in this scenario, but to me, it’s not a near powerful enough word. Continue reading

Jesus is the Subject on the Reservation, Too!

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Photo: Volunteer and child at Wounded Knee.

By Carl Stagner

They may not agree on everything, but they agree on the mission. You have to understand: on the Pine Ridge Reservation, hope is as sparse as the vegetation. All of the mission teams that come to Wounded Knee Church of God in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, know that what the Lakota people need so desperately is Jesus. They don’t first need a lesson on a distinguishing doctrine of the Church of God. They don’t need bickering. They don’t need a divided church. They need Jesus. Continue reading

Church of God Ministries Relaunches Home Missions

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By Carl Stagner

We end up like islands. The enemy of our souls says, “Don’t talk to each other; die where you are—alone and without hope.” Through years of transition and financial difficulties, Native American Ministries unintentionally slipped through cracks. We helped to create the isolation. A lack of resources and support have drained the life out of vital mission efforts here at home—on our own soil. Critical cultural deterioration among Native American tribes has only compounded the challenges faced by our home missionaries, each crying out for you and me to bridge the vast waters that otherwise separate and destroy. This year we confessed where we’ve fallen short and renewed our commitment to Native American Ministries. Church of God Ministries is humbled to announce a relaunch of Home Missions that has already begun to reclaim what hell had stolen. Continue reading