Tag Archives: Native American Ministries

Steadfast Stateside: A Sister’s Perspective on Missions

Kay and Sherman Critser

By Cheral Critser

Editor’s note—Sometimes the story that doesn’t get told is the one about family and friends who are left behind when missionaries leave for the field. Honoring the retirement of career missionaries Sherman and Kay Critser, Cheral Critser—Sherman’s sister—offers a tribute to the couple and, at the same time, a unique perspective on missionary service.

Kay Critser was pregnant with Ryan and went to the doctor to see if she was having twins (Kay was a twin and there are twins in our family). They called on the phone, asking me to come over. I was excited and asked if they were having twins. Sherman laughed and hung up on me! As I went down the hill from the dorm, I was thanking and praising God for the twins. I crossed the street and was at the light post on the corner of the college library. I heard a voice loud and clear, “They are not having twins.” I jumped, looked around and there was no one around. The voice told me God was sending Sherman and Kay to Africa. Continue reading

Native American Ministry Advances Amid Wild Weather in South Dakota

Tornado this year near Allen, South Dakota.

By Carl Stagner

Two tornadoes have touched down within a few miles of Pass Creek Church of God in Allen, South Dakota, this year. One of them struck during Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly, while Tim and Kim Wardell, Global Strategy missionaries to Native Americans, watched the news coverage helplessly, more than 1,800 miles away from home. Though everyone was safe and overall damage was minimal, the tornado left one family in Allen homeless. While South Dakota is often associated with cold and snowy winters, the state does rank fifteenth in the nation for annual tornado activity. In view of this, and the great need to protect the congregation, locals in need, and work camp guests, the Wardells are looking to the Lord and his church to help them turn a vision into reality. Continue reading

Global Strategy Welcomes Native American Ministries

Originally a part of U.S. and Canada Strategy of Church of God Ministries, Native American Ministries (NAM) is now a branch of Global Strategy. This decsion was unanimously affirmed by the American Indian Council of the Church of God (AIC) at the annual meeting in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, this past July. The AIC is a partner organization of Church of God Ministries, representing Christ in seven ministry locations: Continue reading

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

First Church of God, Marion, SD: Small Town, Big Impact

Photo: First Church of God, Marion, South Dakota

By Emily Ploetz

On a map of South Dakota, the town of Marion may not catch your eye. The whole community consists of about 800 people total. However, First Church of God in Marion, and its impact on God’s kingdom, should capture your attention. Out of the 800 residents of Marion, 125 of them attend the church! A church with an influence over the majority of a town isn’t something you see every day. The town and the church have a unique background and, because of some key decisions they’ve made, First Church of God continues to be a shining light. 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

Legacy of Love: Rev. Janice Turner’s Ministry of Presence to Native Americans

PassCreekCHOG_Dec2014_JaniceTurner_and_Annie_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

Her adventure of a lifetime began with simple obedience to God. Considering the proximity of other Native American communities, this Georgia woman could have easily found ministry opportunities closer than Allen, South Dakota. But God’s call didn’t have to make sense; she was told to go. Rev. Janice Turner knew she was called to do more than apply Band-Aids to societal maladies. Thus, one summer mission experience led to numerous 1,300-mile trips across the country since 2008. God called Janice to invest for the long-term, to build relationships, and to effect substantial and sustainable change in a culture that resembles that of a third-world country. Not limited to the gifts she brought to the local children each December, Janice Turner’s ministry was truly a ministry of presence. Continue reading