“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and
proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
A note from Cindi Jo Trahms, Hosanna disciple and missionary…
“I have finally returned home from two back-to-back mission trips, Nicaragua and Crow Reservation. Both trips had their weather challenges (winter doesn’t seem to be going out quietly), but each visit was a joy.
I had the chance to meet most of the college students in Ojoche and have mailed out their letters to the Hosanna sponsors. They wish to know the names of the sponsors in case they use Facebook so I will share that info with my Ojoche contact, Ruber, soon. They are such as amazing group of young people…kids any one would be proud to have as their own.
Del and I had a friend, Maggie, join us who has been to Ojoche several times on previous trips. She has a knack for soliciting funds so had quite a bit of donations to share. We began our journey in del Sur at the library where I purchased $340 worth of new library books. I purchased glitter for my kids’ bible school (what a mess!! 70+ kids… lol), left money for copies at the school, paid for an elderly woman’s knee brace, and gave money to a pregnant woman who needed medication. I also gave $300 to St. John’s Lutheran for new altar curtains and left one of the pastors who travels out into the remotest villages $750 to buy a good used motorcycle. (Several years ago Dave and I helped him buy a horse which Dave still claims is the best horse he’s ever purchased because it’s in Nicaragua!!) and $100 for food for Pastor’s Alihondro’s disciples who are the poorest of poor.
Finally I had a tour of the college with the administrator, Martin, and left him a small financial donation. He is super excited about the number of students we are now supporting and would like our June team to come and converse with his English students. I am hoping to turn this into a return visit by his students to Ojoche…don’t tell him! Del is planning to bring a small team in June of young people from his church, St. Andrew’s, West Fargo, so this experience should be fun to watch.
Once again it seemed that the Spirit was leading us forward into new adventures. We had the pleasure of meeting with the Circuit Pastor who shared his dreams/needs, which included some pastoral training, and so I was excited to have brought along copies of the Book of Concord complete with Spanish essays of explanation (provided by Hosanna and Robin, the church office manager of 5,000) for each of the 5 pastors. They are currently committing themselves to teaching the Small Catechism to their members…halleluiah!
And we met the assistant to the mayor who is trying to build a program for the mentally and physically handicapped who receive no aid from the government. There was a PET (a mobility cart for people with diabilities) still at the Ojoche dorm, left over from a prior Orphan Grain Train shipment that I donated to her. Luis helped us get it working, and we carried it down the mountain on the top of the van. She didn’t have business cards so I took her info and promised to bring her some on my next trip (building good will…thank you, God).
Del and I also had a private visit with Luis and his wife, Zida, and they are humbled by the gift that Hosanna is sending their way. They asked me to express their deepest and sincere appreciation to all of you. Del is committed to going down to assist Luis in the purchase of the van. Dave, he asked me to have you send the donation to him, made out to Ruff International, as soon as the funds become available as he believes Luis will now begin to van shop in earnest.
Thank you, as always, for your support. I will probably be returning to Ojoche in June, and while I always love to spend time on the mission trail, it is always a joy to return home to Hosanna.
Cindi Jo Trahms, Hosanna disciple and missionary to Nicaragua,
shares a missional opportunity…
Thank you to those who have chosen to support the Nicaraguan students for this academic year! There are 5 students (out of 20) who could still use financial support. If you are able and interested, please contact Cindi Jo (see info below). Thank you!
“These are most of the Nicaraguan students (that Hosanna disciples sponsored) from this past school year and their families. It was a great day in November as they all celebrated the close of their college school year!
For $40 a month, a student can be sponsored for college, and this year’s Hosanna challenge is to support 20 young people looking to make a difference in their world. Please join our Blessing Bridge!”
If you have questions or would like more information, you can contact Cindi Jo:
4499 370th Ave.
Janesville, MN. 56048
So what happened to all those shoes??
Momentum Shoe Collection Shared with the World
through Orphan Grain Train
Here’s the story…
In 2014, Pastor Dennis pulled together the Momentum Team. The team consisted of Phil and Elaine Meyer, Hal Bohrer, Carol Clark, Dave and Miriam Ramse, and Kathy Wilking. One of the tasks of the group was to find simple, creative ways in which Hosanna could meet the needs of others. The team created an extensive lists of organizations with whom they might want to collaborate and from that list, they narrowed their choice to Orphan Grain Train. After consulting Cindi Jo Trahms, Hosanna disciple and representative for Orphan Grain Train, the Momentum Team decided to collect shoes and boots.
So, the Momentum Team put together collection points at both Hosanna Main and Hosanna Highland. In three weeks, 649 pairs of shoes were collected! Phil and Elaine sorted, boxed and bagged, and labeled them, and Orphan Grain Train took the collection to their international office, centered in Norfolk, Nebraska. From there they will be shared with those in need throughout the world.
Thank you, Hosanna, for your generosity! Thank you, Momentum Team and Orphan Grain Train, for inspiring such generosity and making it possible!
Want to learn more about Orphan Grain Train? Click here:
Letter of Thanks From Ruber Mendez, Disciple,
to the Disciples of Hosanna
Thank you, Hosanna, for the college scholarships, clothing, school bags, books, medical supplies, toys, school supplies and monetary gifts that are helping a number of Nicaraguan friends enjoy a better life. This thank you letter is Ruber, a disciple in the Lutheran Church of Ojoche…read on!
“Good day brothers and sisters who are a part of the Hosanna church, in the US and the world. I would like to send you my sincere greetings, wishing that God our creator is always blessing your ministry and blessing everyone who is a part of this beautiful church.
In addition to my greetings, I would send infinite thanks to God for his ministry and a beautiful blessing for the many people who come to our community and are helping in a special way with our young people, who are making possible the dream of graduating university. And I give thanks to God for making it possible for sending us brothers and sisters who have been a part of our spiritual life with Jesus.
We hope that the blessing of our God and His wonders can abound in the heart of His Hosanna church and that His infinite love can remain inside, so that we can in future times continue sharing the riches of our God and can bring the message of God to people who are not established on the road to salvation.
We desire that the grace and the mercy that comes from above be the sacred mantle that harbors and protects you all, for you all are
part of our team that God sent to our world to realize the prediction of His word, that God gives you the Holy Spirit forever at your side and can always be victorious. In the name of Jesus Christ, I greet you…
May peace be with you.
Your brother, Ruber Mendez”
Where God Brings Friends Together
A note from Cindi Jo Trahms, Hosanna disciple and volunteer missionary
to the people of Nicaragua, after their most recent trip:
My husband, Dave, daughter, Drew Adelia, and missionary friend, Del Ruff, returned to Nicaragua January 20-25th. Our primary purpose for going back to Ojoche was to meet the new students who would be starting college at the beginning of February. This is the fourth year of scholarships, starting with just one student the first year, and now finding sponsors for seven students once again for the second year. As I explained to the students, I can never promise I will find sponsors when I return to America, but each year the generosity of the disciples of Hosanna continues to astound me. When I extended the invitation for the program to the congregation last year, I expected that I would find sponsors, but I expected them to be primarily retired, or near-retired members, who had a heart for helping kids make their dreams come true. To my complete astonishment, the majority of the sponsors ended up being young couples who probably still have their own college debts to repay. I told the Ojoche students that even in America college is very expensive, and a privilege to attend, so it is truly an honor to the Ojoche students that the love of Christ is flowing out of the young couples at Hosanna to support other young people thousands of miles away…kids they will never meet nor probably ever have the opportunity to even email since the internet is still quite inaccessible in Nicaragua rural areas. The opportunity being extended by the disciples of Hosanna to the new students will be immeasurable, simply an act of faith. The new students were touched and are committed to working very hard to do their best.
Two of the students in need of scholarship are pictured here. Currently 7 students are looking for financial support.
If you are interested in helping the college students of Ojoche (any amount),
please contact Cindi Jo at 507-234-5620 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gifts from Hosanna to Ojoche
We also took along some Hosanna sweatshirts for the Ojoche men’s soccer team; dozens of orange bags from the Connect-U program which will be used as school bags; donated medical supplies, small toys, and school supplies from Hosanna disciples; as well as teacher books and teaching materials purchased in Managua with Hosanna mission money. Mission money was also used as a gift to a family needing a new home, to a doctor in Managua who is setting up a new free clinic, to purchase a sewing machine and small computer for families needing opportunities to add financial support to their families, and to purchase a wheel chair. (See photos below.)
But the greatest gift of all was the opportunity to once again share the Love and Gospel Good News of our Savior with our brothers and sisters in Christ at St. John Lutheran Church and the rural mountain village of Ojoche.
As always I know that it appears that the students and people of Ojoche are lucky to have us, but instead it is really us who are receiving the greatest blessing of all.
Serving in His Son-shine,
Cindi Jo Trahms
Hosanna Mission Money at Work…
Library Built in Ojoche, Nicaragua
Thanks to the generosity of Hosanna disciples, the library is going up and 102 books have been purchased. This is nothing shy of a miracle–in a country where books are scarce, schools have one textbook in each classroom, and reading is a rare pleasure–having a new library in the center of the village is an inspiration. As you can see, everyone is pitching in!
Cindy Jo & NiShuan Trahms Deliver
Hosanna Donations to Eastern Europe!
Cindy Jo and NiShuan Trahms spent two weeks visiting orphanages in Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia…over 2,800 miles with a team of 9 from the Orphan Grain Train. They left donations from Hosanna, such as winter stocking caps, toys, sports equipment, Connect U Kids materials and purchased fresh fruit for the children. In the darkness of countries that once were not allowed to worship, a little Brightness, Joy, and Light were delivered.
$500 was also given to Slanzy Boys Correctional Facility for school supplies and vitamins. Hosanna will be financially supporting this institution for the next year which will allow it to purchase hygienic supplies, medicines, and nutritional supplements. Slanzy is a facility for boys, ages 14-18, who have committed lesser crimes. While most Russian prisons are frightening places, Slanzy is set up as an educational facility in order to give the boys a chance to turn their lives around. The gift of Russian children’s Bible will also be given to the boys. Please keep Slanzy in your prayers.
A letter from Tania, a Nicaraguan student,
supported by our Senior High Youth:
Receive fraternal greetings on behalf of me and my family.
With humility I am writing this letter for Cindi (Trahms) and her congregation.
At this time, I am in the process of receiving my degree in elementary education, and I am pleased because you are a part of this great achievement that I have reached. I am very happy, and your help is the reason for it. You allowed me to fulfill one of my goals. This motivates me to continue with my preparation because I
still have much to learn.
I very much want to tell you thank you for your help in continuing to support entrepreneurs, dreamers, and those who are dedicated.
You have been a blessing in my life, and I keep you in my prayers.
Would you like to personally support a Nicaraguan college student?
Currently Hosanna disciples are donating to cover the cost of 8 Nicaraguan students’ education! The cost for one Nicaraguan student to attend college is about $40 per month for about 10 months per year. Any amount of money is helpful!
If you would like to support one or more of these students, please contact Cindi Jo Trahms at email@example.com
Connecting People to Jesus in Nicaragua!
Crow Lutheran Ministry
Lodge Grass, Montana
Shared by Cindi Jo Trahms with Pastor Dan Jacobs
Conversation #8 – Dancing and the Crow Powwow
A note from Cindi Jo…
As a final conversation between Dan Jacobs and me, I wanted to end our year on a high note. This has been a year of enjoyable introspection for me as I read and re-read all of Pastor Dan’s writings and tried to use them in a broader sense for my own mission journey as it continues to take me around the world. I pray that you, too, will be able to apply what Pastor Dan and the Crow people have taught us and continue to allow the Spirit to work in your heart as you reach out to build relationships in the neighborhood.
According to the 2013 fall LINC (Lutherans in Indian Communities) website, a newsletter by the Montana District of the LCMS for Native communities, on the third weekend in August thousands of people from around the world come to Crow Agency, to one of the largest powwow gatherings in Montana. Hundreds of teepees are pitched across the mile long by half mile wide camp area known as “The Teepee Capital of the World”. Each morning, Friday through Sunday, a parade of people, dressed in their finest, ride horses or vehicles with trailers through the camp grounds. The line of horses is often over a mile long. Dancing and rodeos fill the afternoons and evenings.
Photos of the Crow Fair (powwow) available here:
Partaking in this celebration is Pastor Dan. According to the newsletter, in the midst of this huge camp between two busy intersections is a booth with a long awning covered with tarps. This has been Crow Lutheran Ministry’s camp spot for the past 26 years. Free beverages:
Kool-aid, water and sometimes tea are available to thirsty people passing by. Chairs are provided for the weary. Someone is at the booth all day to visit and pray with people. Bibles, devotion books,topical studies,…school supplies and hygiene kits are available free of charge. At the Crow Lutheran Booth, Vacation Bible School is held in the afternoons.
This past March, Pastor Dan invited Pastor Darren, me, and all the college students and adult leaders to join him this year to witness the Lord at work. This is an open invitation to all members of Hosanna. The 2014 information can be found at the following website: http://visitmt.com/listing/categories_NET/MoreInfo.aspx?IDRRecordID=8832. (Note: At the time of publication, this event is complete. Feel free to browse the site and consider attending next year!)
Of all the activities that Pastor Dan described, the Dance really jumped out at me. According to the LINC newsletter, on Monday afternoon a ceremony called “Parade Dance” or “Dance through the Camp” is held. This is a prayer ceremony in which dancers and singers move through four stops on a path that crosses the campground. The Crow Fair marks the beginning of the year on the Crow ceremonial calendar. The newsletter states that the ceremony focuses prayer on the four seasons of the coming year. One petition is that we will all gather again next year to celebrate the Creator’s blessings.
Dance is an intrical part of the Native culture. It is just one of the many gifts that our Creator Lord has given us. Pastor Dan has written a Bible study using Jeremiah 31:13, based on this gift.
So thank you for sharing your time with me as we learned about the Crow Nation through the gift of Pastor Dan Jacob’s wisdom. I pray that the series of conversations have been a blessing to you and your ministry wherever the Lord has called you. I would like to close with a favorite song of mine…one often sung in the LCMS parochial schools… that will indeed make you want to dance.
Keep your Son-ny side Up.
Cindi Jo Trahms
Conversation #7 The Bull
Cindi Jo introduces…
One year has passed since the Hosanna Youth visited Lodge Grass on their 2013 mission trip. It was during this time that my conversation began with Pastor Dan Jacobs of the Crow Lutheran Ministry. This past year our conversations have been primarily him teaching and me learning…but it has been good. It has opened my eyes to a deeper compassion for the Native Americans living in our country. And indeed, it is “our” country now. A place where many are continually learning to call it home and many more are trying to enter to make it their home as well. It is truly a great place despite its shortcomings.
During this past year a relationship was formed between Hosanna Highland and Lodge Grass as the college students turned their spring break into a mission trip of love and learning. Seeds were planted, and the challenge that Pastor Dan extended to me last summer to return and build new friendship with the Crow people, has begun. Now we pray that the Holy Spirit will cause it to grow.
So I would like to begin to close our conversations with one of the very first writing that Pastor Dan shared with me a year ago. It has continued to be my favorite. Little did he know at the time that I would lean on this writing the past six months of my life as my father, Herbert Youngerberg, battled cancer until the Lord called him home. So as you read excerpts from Pastor Dan’s writing, I pray that it will bring you as much hope and peace as it brought me.
“The Tree, The Bull, The Eagle, The Forest” by Pastor Dan Jacobs
The Tree of Life is talked of in various cultures. It is a tree that yields endless life. It is always seen as a tree that is close to Creator…however, the first people did eat that poisonous fruit. Their broken spirits led to broken life for all their descendants….Yet creator had a deeper plan. He gave His Son to hang on that Tree…so, in the shadow of the Tree, life is always good, whole and everlasting.
There are times in life when the Tree seems far away. In fact it may be out of sight, seemingly no where to be found. Yes, life can look like the Great Plains: wide open, not a tree in sight, no apparent shelter.
When storms hit on the plains, they come with great force. Wind blows the cold right through you. Rain and snow sting the face and hands. Few animals stand against these storms. If horses or cattle do make a stand, it is with their tail to the wind. Yet even then the storm usually drives them, maybe slowly, but they definitely move with the wind. Down into coulees where snow may drift so deep they get stranded, or against some bluff or cliff that traps them, they will drift as the wind pushes.
We all know how life goes that way. Crises and troubles come and we don’t know what to do or where to turn. We just want out of the storm. We turn our back to it. It is not so painful if we don’t have to face it. So the storm pushes, and we drift into coulees or against cliffs.. There we become hopelessly trapped while the storm of life rages on, beating us and wearing us down.
However, there is an animal the Creator has uniquely prepared for life on the plains: the buffalo bull. The Bull doesn’t turn his back on storm or attacker. Creator has put his defense on the front. His heavy skull is his helmet, his breastplate and shield, his hooves strong for running and standing.
So the Bull faces life’s challenges. He faces into the storm, kept warm by the wool over his head, shoulders, and forelegs, Facing the wind, he is safe. He is not driven by the storm, but can move through it.
When attack comes from wolf or bear or hunter, the Bull faces it. No enemy willingly attacks the Bull head on. All try to come from behind. Even though wolves attack in a pack…as they focus on the hindquarters and belly…even when attacked from the rear, the Bull can quickly turn round, tearing the horse and trampling the hunter.
The brokenness of life drove all humans into coulees deep with snow. There we were trapped dying. Enemies came against us there to shoot us full of arrows of despair and shame. It was hopeless, sure death.
Then Creator sent His Son who stood as the Bull facing our enemies. The storms of life beat Him, and the wolves and bears and hunters (human and spirit enemies) rushed at Him. Still He faced them. With the sword of Creator’s word, Jesus fought off all attacks of trial and temptation. Wearing the helmet of rescue and the breastplate of purity, He fought into the midst of death. Holding the shield of faith, he clung to His Father even on the darkest, most terrible day when He hung on the Tree.
Now that you have been connected to the Jesus Tree, He has lifted you out of the coulee of death. He stands you on solid ground in a wide place, like the Bull …
Even when it seems like the Tree is far away, He has made you strong like the Bull to face the storm and overcome…So you no longer have to be pushed by life’s events. Now you can stand where Creator has placed you. He has uniquely prepared you for that life, just as He did for the Bull.
And so we pray…
Oh GREAT MYSTERY!
Creator of all we are! All we have! All we ever shall be!
I give to You my most humble gratitude.
I thank You for life and all that pertains to life about me.
I thank You for giving me this opportunity of life in this form so that I may walk among Your wonders with knowledge and given the option to be considerate and to care.
I give You gratitude for those untold billions of lives that graciously gave themselves over to maintain this life over these many years, humbling me by their unselfish sacrifice just to keep me walking here. So much so as to realize the sacredness of life, upon this earth I share. Doubly grateful with each day, just knowing You placed them there.
I ask Your forgiveness, Oh Great MYSTERY, for all the petty things I’ve done. Cursing, griping and groaning over pains and shames that’s done, with so little consideration for all the wisdom won.
With gratitude for all that was given and all that may yet to come. I give myself unto Your keeping to let Your will be done. Humbly asking and beseeching to use this aged parchment to face Your drum. Stretch it to its limit until under Your slightest touch it gives its loudest strum. Your drum signals given to all about and all that’s yet to come.
Forgive me if I sound selfish, Oh Mystery, after all you have already done. But for myself I have but one wish, perhaps a foolish one. That on that day when the mystery unfolds before me, when the work of this flesh is done, That I may utter with my final breath, “I DID ALL I SHOULD HAVE DONE!”
Thus I pause in this unending prayer, ending as was begun, with undying gratitude for everything You have given and for all that You have done.
~Wanish, (Thank you) Blue Turtle
Conversation #6 What’s the Point?
Cindi Jo introduces…
Returning from a week in Lodge Grass with the Hosanna Highland college youth last month brought me hours of reflection and many fond memories. Sitting at the side of Pastor Dan as he filled us with his wisdom and insights regarding his ministry to our Crow Indian neighbors reminded me once again of how our Lord spent his entire life doing just exactly the same thing. Quietly, patiently, gently the answers were given. Quietly, patiently, gently the responses flowed to those who needed to learn and were eager to hear. Pastor Dan, like Jesus, showed us what ministry to a down-trodden people looks like and how easily our love can be accepted if we are willing to try. This to me is what sanctification is all about. So during this Holy Week as we approach our Lord’s death once again, it is extremely important that we know the answer to the very important question, “What’s the Point?”
Pastor Dan writes…
What’s the point? Why go on? What does it matter? I’ve been here so many years and nothing seems to be happening. Does anyone care about God? Am I so bad a teacher that no one gets the Gospel? Maybe I should resign my call and go to work at McDonalds’.
Ever feel that way? Any of those thoughts sound familiar?
Holy Week seems a good time to reflect on such thoughts and feelings. We get some clues from the Gospels about how Jesus was feeling this week. He was not fooled by the cheering crowds on Palm Sunday or enthralled by the listeners on Monday through Wednesday. He knew what the real story was. He knew where this was going.
Yet Jesus explained the point during the week. “Now My soul is troubled, and what should I say? Father, save me from this hour? Yet it is for this reason that I came into this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28). Jesus did not seek His own glory (John 8:5), or His own will. He always listened to the Father and said and did what the Father wanted (John 5: 30).
Yet this was not only to tell us about the Father. Jesus glorified the Father by bringing us into a right and peaceful relationship with the Father. Our very salvation is for the Father’s glory. So as we bow our knees at the name of Jesus and confess that He is Lord, we give glory to God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11). This bowing, confessing, and glorifying are not simply what happens in our prayers and worship. This is what our whole life as Christians is about. Every moment, word, and action is for the Father’s glory, as Jesus said, “In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and will glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
The Father and His glory is the point. It is not about us, or our glory, or our comfort. Yet that is hard for us to swallow. Thus, to glorify the Father means that we must die. Our will and pride must be put to death if we are to serve God. That was the path Jesus was called to walk, to be obedient to the Father even unto death, death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). That is the path we are called to walk if we are to be Christians and servants of the Lord.
That may not sound too good. When life and ministry seem to be falling apart, it may seem we are dying for nothing. But that’s the point of Good Friday and Easter: death leads to life, faithful suffering and dying bring forth the Father’s glory.
It may look like nothing; others may despise it, but faithful service always glorifies the Father for it is His ministry to accomplish what He wants for the salvation of His elect, those He created for His glory. That is always the point!
And so we pray…
Lent is upon us.
We withdraw. We look inward. We reflect. We go deep.
Lent is a time for prayer, repentance, sacrifice and good works. It is a time when we deny ourselves that which is taking up the spaces where we need more of God.
In my deep there is darkness.
His deep is pure light.
In me there are shadows of fear and doubt.
In Him only trust and hope.
And while I want to enter into great spiritual exercises, measure out disciplines, and enter into a deep mourning and grief over the shortcomings and failings in my life, a tender voice sighs: Quiet.
It’s the whisper in the frigid wind, the blinding sun reflecting on a frozen landscape, the deafening silence of the earth buried in a heavy blanket of snow.
It is still winter.
And while I am inclined to strain myself in the birth of spring, with rituals of purification and cleansing, He gently persuades…give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live…for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
It is not yet Spring, but it’s coming. And we must prepare, not by human force, but by God’s own gentle path.
He calls me to his tender, merciful arms. He invites me to walk in communion with His Holy Spirit. He encourages me to abide in the aroma of his goodness and illuminated in His refining light.
Because where there is light the darkness is pushed out.
I cannot win this struggle by my own might. I will achieve nothing with my own spiritual calisthenics.
Only the light can overcome darkness.
I cannot do what only He can do for me. But I can heed his voice. I can abide in Him, so that He in turn can abide in me.
Then, when I am in full communion with the love and peace of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve invited Him to tame the monsters of my deep – doubt, control, anxiety, ambition, pride – then I can exist as He intended: to know Him, to receive and speak life, to love.
Spring is coming, and we must prepare, so that Christ can resurrect again through each one of us in our words and in our service.
“I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. ” – Max Lucado
(be gentle from elizabethester.com)
“Getting to know our neighbors
in Lodge Grass, Montana”
From March 8 – 15, 2014, fourteen adults from Hosanna Highland Campus Ministry visited with the community of Lodge Grass, Montana, Pastor Dan Jacobs, and disciples of Crow Lutheran Ministry. It was a week of relationship building, listening, learning and sharing…and playing! Please click on the link below to view some of the photos!
Conversation #5 God’s Warrior Heart
Cindi Jo introduces…
Because we face no great persecution in the country, we fail to realize we are part of an insurgency, a spiritual insurgency. As Americans and as Christians we have generally come to expect life to be comfortable. Our personal lives may not be comfortable, but that is what we look for, how we think things should be, what we think we deserve. So it is that we end up fighting anyone who impedes our striving for comfort, whether that be a human being or God.
However, we are on a battlefield, a place where life is many things, but comfortable is not one of them. We are part of an insurgency, and therefore as Christians, we all are warriors. So we need a warrior’s heart. That is what God began forming in us when we were baptized. It was voiced in the cry, “Jesus is Lord.”
This is how “Warrior’s Heart” begins…a booklet written by Pastor Dan through the Crow Lutheran Ministry. As with all of our Lutheran writings, Pastor Dan begins his explanation with “What Does This Mean?”
God is First Warrior
But we are ahead of ourselves, for this matter does not begin with us; it begins with God. “Yahweh is a warrior. Yahweh is His name” (Exodus 15:3). Yahweh, the Eternal One, the One Who Is, the One Who Does Not Change, I AM, is a warrior. Such is His nature then. He is a warrior eternally. So to be created in His image and likeness means we were created to be warriors. Of course through sin we became traitors and cowards, but through Christ that image is renewed.
Because of legends and action movies, our ideas of warriors are not accurate. These sources tend to show a proud, angry heart that leads to violence and even revenge. The ends justify the means. Enemies are only spared if they are humiliated.
So when the Psalm declares, “Who is the King of glory? Yahweh strong and mighty, Yahweh mighty in battle…Who is the King of glory? Yahweh of heaven’s armies, He is King of glory” (24:8, 10), it is easy for us to envision God leading the angels as an unstoppable flood overwhelming and crushing all opponents. Being behind such a vision, we conclude our lives should be trouble-free.
If that were how Yahweh used His might in battle, this would be a very different universe. Every rebel would be immediately crushed. The serpent would not have existed long enough to tempt the woman. But clearly that is not what happened. So we see that a warrior’s heart is not about a show of power and personal rights. If it were, Yahweh had many ways to exercise His power and rights over any and all rebels.
However, a warrior’s heart is compassion. It is not concerned with self but with others. A warrior fights for the people, not for himself. This is obvious in Yahweh. He neither gains nor loses by creation. The rebels make Him no less; the faithful make Him no more. He always is what He always was. However, creation definitely gains or loses by how God fights. The means are as critical as the ends.
So He fights by insurgency. He moves within the suffering and brokenness of creation. A great show of force would destroy the whole – the mountains would melt; the hills would run away; the people would die away in fear. So He battles in a seemingly small, quiet, and definitely surprising way, for His end is to deliver creation from the brokenness of sin…in human form, as Jesus, God is dressed for battle…the battle is to the death, but it is not an insurgency of destruction, terror, and slaughter. It is an insurgency where the Warrior dies to rescue the others.
This is God’s warrior heart.
And so we pray…
Gentleness is not very popular today. Some think being gentle is weak. But you, Lord, have taught me to be a “gentle warrior,” to fight anger with kindness. I know that the most hurtful wars begin with hateful words, so fill my heart with Your Spirit of gentleness. Let peace in this world begin with my words. Amen
(Hide and Seek Devotional by Stephen Elkins)
Conversation #4 A Warrior’s Heart
From sadness to peace…that is where today’s message from Pastor Dan will carry us. As I began to write, I went to the Bible to look for verses on which to base this conversation. Putting in the search-word sadness, I found Joshua 1:9. Many years ago, on a youth trip to Mexico, I was accompanied by a pastor from North Dakota who spent the week teaching the kids Bible verses set to rap. Now, mind you, this was long before rap was even “invented” (and still not my favorite as a parent). Yet amazingly the Bible verses he rapped that week stuck with my children and myself all these years.
Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS…do not tremble or be afraid…for the LORD your GOD is W..I..T..H you, WHERE E-VER you go.
This is what Pastor Dan calls a warrior’s heart…an insightful continuation of his letter on dealing with sadness.
July 29, 2013 (continued)…
This brings one to a warrior’s heart. This is a heart that does not fear or flee the fight. It awakens each day knowing we live on a battlefield, and it rejoices in the fight like the war horse in Job 39. This is a part of the Christian life that American Christendom seems to have been lost/forgotten.
Among the Crow they had two special kinds of warriors: crooked staff and straight staff. These warriors fought from the place where the staff was set in the ground. A crooked staff warrior could pull his staff and move it to a better fighting position. Jesus is a crooked staff warrior who finally moved His staff into the heart of the enemy camp and crushed the enemy.
A straight staff warrior fought where staked and could not move unless someone else pulled the staff up.
One gained the victory or died there. Back around 2000 I realized I was a straight staff warrior. This is where Christ has staked me, and I will be here until He moves my staff. Live or die, here is my battle ground.
The war is what it is. No reason to be depressed no matter the condition. As the old Sioux war cry goes, “Hoka hey,” “It is a good day to die.” This is especially true under Christ, Chief Cornerstone, for whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
So it is important to see what’s what, as much as one can with the limited perspective of a grunt. Victories are there, even when small. Somedays to still be standing is a true victory. Some seem bigger and make “better copy” in news letters.
Of course, there are discouragements. The effects of sin are massively blatant here. And souls are lost. These are things that I cannot change, and they are not my responsibility. Those are God’s. Mine is to do what I’m called to do.
And when I fail, which I know I do, I fall into those nail-pierced hands. He doctors me with the medicine of His blood, gives me rest, and nurtures me back to health. Then He stands me up by my straight staff, and the war resumes for He has called me here to fight for these people, not to gain war honors, but so that they may live – truly live, in peace with their Creator.
His peace wrap you well,
And so we pray…
When the church comes together to pray for one another
Would you have them to pray for me
They may not know my name
But their prayers can sustain me for eternity
Lord, lay me on some prayer warriors heart
And lead them to an altar to pray for me
For in the heat of the battle I’ve just grown weary
And you know just what I need
Well tell them there’s a soldier of yours that is wounded
And their his soul is being torn apart
Thru the prayers of the saints I’ll find the strength
If you’ll lay me on some prayer warriors heart. Amen.
(lyrics from A Prayer Warriors’ Heart)
19 “Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
Conversation #3: “Sadness and Hope”
Perhaps you, like myself, read the facts presented in “Knowing my Indian Neighbor” and felt great sadness. (See previous post below.) Sadness at the unfortunate historical legacy of our Native Americans in U.S. history, sadness at the misinformation that can plague our conversations, and sadness for the people of Lodge Grass and their surrounding communities who daily need to make their way through life with all these burdens. So I presented this seemingly overwhelming feeling of sadness to Pastor Dan and asked him how he, as a shepherd, copes each day in his ministry and continues to find peace.
July 29, 2013…
Pastor Dan responded:
“Good morning, Cindi Jo,
How am I not drawn into sadness? Well, I do get sad and have shed a good number of tears here over the years in many different situations. I’ve even been known to tear up during funeral services I lead. I think tears come about as easily as smiles. As Paul says, “Weep with those who weep; rejoice with those who rejoice.”
Yet I think you’re actually asking why I don’t get stuck in sadness. A key part of that protection is knowing the difference between empathy and sympathy. All the counseling books tell us to have empathy, but they are wrong. Empathy is actually a co-dependent dead end. The work comes from two Greek words: en (in) and pathos (emotion, pain, suffering). So it means to be in someone else’s emotion and pain. Their suffering becomes yours, and so you become as stuck as they are. This results in two basket cases who can’t help anyone. In a place with a lot of sadness, empathy will imprison someone until PTSD/burn out takes over.
Sympathy is how the Bible instructs us to deal with others. Compassion is the same thing. These are active words and this is how Jesus works in the Gospels. Sympathy is from two Greek words: syn (with) and pathos (emotion, pain, suffering). This is a matter of standing with someone in their suffering to lend strength, faith, grace, etc. to help carry them through. This is how we help carry one another’s burdens. This can be emotional carrying – a shoulder to cry on. It can be mental carrying – helping in finding aid/solutions. I can be physically carrying – running errands, nursing the sick, walking at the same pace as the crippled. And of course along with all this goes prayer, bold, confident prayer, and God’s Word. Here sadness is real, but it is not the end because the joy of the Lord, which is our strength, is present.
Depression is an aspect of this broken life that touches everyone to some degree sometime. And it has touched me, but not so as to be debilitating. There are several factors that hold me up. The foundational one is coming to see as the Lord sees. Of course that means truly seeing sin and the brokenness of human beings – a painful view to be sure. However, that reality cuts down on bad surprises. Of course things are a mess, of course people do stupid and/or terrible things – such is the nature of the world of sin. And in all cases, as with suffering, Christ is always the answer. The challenge is getting the application right, which can be tricky but not depressing, for here is the only hope.
With this then goes patience. Some 20 years ago He showed me this is not a war of overwhelmingly big victories. It is a war of attrition. That means having as much patience as God and more patience than Satan.”
And so we pray…
O Lord, I am downcast and low in spirit. I sit in empty silence with eyes that see no hope. In the night hours You see my many tears. There is no strength within me. I am covered with clouds of sadness, dark and looming.
O Lord, I long to feel Your sweet presence. Come to me and be my Shield and Strength in this dark hour; and lift my head up high once again. Teach me to encourage myself in Who You are. For though this weeping endures for the night, You are The One Who brings Joy in the morning. You are The One Who will turn my mourning into dancing, and replaces this garment of depression with gladness. Restore to me the Joy of Your Salvation and uphold me with Your Holy Spirit.
In the midst of this sadness I will yet praise You with all my heart, for You are glorious. Who You are will never change and Your Love will never cease. Though all the world may fall around me, this one thing I know…I will never be silent. I will sing forth my praise to You and declare your wondrous works. I will give thanks to You forever! Use me, O Lord, for Your Glory.
In Jesus Name,
Amen, let it be so.
(quoted from “A Prayer in The Midst of Sadness and Depression” Christian.Blog.com)
Conversation #2 Knowing My Indian Neighbor
Last summer’s youth trip to the Crow Indian Reservation was a “first” for me. Though I have traveled to many parts of the world to do mission work, I had never taken the opportunity to work and serve on an Indian Reservation. So when Alex (Ramerth) invited me to go along with the youth to Lodge Grass, I was immediately intrigued. But, I must confess, I had many pre-conceived ideas and visions about what I would see when I first arrived and honestly hoped that what I would find would be something quite different.
Unfortunately, my images were not based on misinformation. The Crow Indian Reservation is a humble, though beautiful, setting. From our first entry into town, it was obvious that life in Lodge Grass is not easy. So in order to look beyond that first glance and “understand us: our history…our community…” (as Pastor Dan requested), I will share some of the difficult facts that the Crow people live with every day. These insights are found in a booklet entitled “Knowing My Indian Neighbor” provided to me by Pastor Dan (produced by The Indian Ministry Committee of The Montana District LCMS).
- Indian people, or Native Americans, are rather a mystery to most non-Indians. They make up less than 1% of the U.S. population. These roughly 3 million people are divided into almost 550 federally-recognized tribes and a good number of non-recognized groups. Therefore they are people who are easily forgotten and little understood.
- Native Americans have the highest birth rate in the U.S. This means that there are many children in these communities needing to be baptized and to know the Lord.
- Indian people have the shortest life expectancy of any group in the U.S.—about 50. That means, on the average, they have at least 25 fewer years in which to hear the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
- Myth: All Indians are drunks. It is certainly true that alcohol has had and continues to have devastating impacts on Native people. Most communities estimate alcohol abuse at 50%. Such levels of abuse means that nearly every family is touched by the effects in some way. Such abuse undermines whole social structures.
- Death in all forms, at all ages, is an almost weekly fact of life in these communities. Oftentimes the deaths come in groups (related as in a car wreck, or unrelated as one by drowning, another from sickness, another from old age…all in one day). In these small communities, you will know most of those who die, and be related to a good many. So much death leaves no time to finish grieving, especially for those who know nothing of the victory of the Resurrection. So many Native people think dead is really gone. Though the spirits of the dead continue, we will never sing or dance or laugh with or hold the deceased again.
- Unemployment runs 50% or more most of the time. Education does not seem to lead anywhere even for those who make it through high school. School is crushing because of cultural misunderstanding between students, teachers, parents, and administrators. All of this leads to a lot of despair and pain. That is the driving force behind substance abuse. People self-medicate to try to get relief from the hurt. Not all Indians are drunks, but most are hurting.
- Myth: All Indians get government checks. This has never been true.
- Much of the breakdown of tribal society through the reservation system and the Christianization of the people through school, churches, and other programs, whose primary goal was to turn Indians in civilized white farmers, impacted the males first and foremost. Traditional leadership was replaced….traditional male life basically ended. Then the boarding school system removed children from their homes. Through beatings and other abuses, children were made ashamed of themselves and their people. Male shame and lack of positive role models led to men not caring for their families. Generation by generation, this problem has spread and worsened in these communities.
- Women’s work is always available. So it has long been easier for women than men to provide for the children. Thus today there are many single-mother households. This keeps the population alive but does little to heal the male half of the population.
- Why don’t they leave the reservation? Life is hard on the reservation but harder off the reservation. They are a minority outside the reservation. There is no family out there. Native people primarily define themselves by relationships… it defines one’ s place in the community and in creation. Trust and bonds must be established before new people are allowed into one’s life.
Trust and bonds…yes, indeed. As Pastor Dan wrote on June 28, 2013 (see below), “From that, a mutual relationship of the Body of Christ can grow for both sides have strength and weakness to share.”
And so we pray,
Father, as ambassadors of Your heavenly Kingdom, we want to be keenly sensitive to those whose difficulties seem overwhelming. Some of our brothers and sisters are weighed down with troubling circumstances that might overtake them if not for those of us who take them by the arm and pull them up out of the quicksand of discouragement that ultimately sinks them further to depression or despair. As we walk heart to heart and hand in hand with our family of believers we also weep with them in their sorrows and rejoice with them in their victories. Would You lay upon my heart today two individuals, a believer and an unbeliever, and love their souls through me. Help me to do my part to strengthen my brother or sister in their faith journey. Reveal to me a way that I can show genuine concern for the unbeliever, through my caring words or in a loving deed, who needs to see the love of Christ represented in human form. In the blessed name of Jesus, I pray. Amen
(quoted from “Bearing Burdens” by Stephen C. Weber in Prayer)
Conversation #1 with Cindi Jo Trahms and Pastor Dan Jacobs
This summer the senior high youth group traveled to Lodge Grass, Montana to participate in a week of service to the Crow Indian people. I had the privilege of sharing in this experience. At an evening community picnic which is part of the YouthWorks experience, I sat next to a gentleman who introduced himself as the LCMS pastor in Lodge Grass. At first I was embarrassed that I had traveled to Lodge Grass without the knowledge that a church existed in Lodge Grass from our synod. It was equally uncomfortable for Pastor Dan Jacobs who was put off by my friendly, but misinformed, questions about what I could do through Hosanna and the Orphan Grain Train to send goods to the Crow Reservation. After our initial conversation, where Pastor Dan and I acknowledged that the chance meeting had not occurred by chance but the working of the Holy Spirit, we agreed to begin a journey of education and support between ourselves and our two congregations and cultures. This first letter from Pastor Dan will set the stage for that journey.
Please read it, pray about its message, and join Pastor Dan and I in our commitment to draw God’s people in Lodge Grass, Montana and Mankato, Minnesota closer together through a series of educational materials and devotions based on writings from Pastor Dan Jacobs of the Crow Lutheran Ministry in Crow Agency, MT.
June 28, 2013…
Pastor Dan wrote, “You are correct that my response to your needs question was a bit defensive. I pondered that on my walk to get the church van. That question, ‘What do you need?’ is one I get asked by basically all visitors. It can be a legitimate question. It is certainly asked from caring hearts. However, it is a terrible “lead” question. It makes many assumptions about the asker and the hearer, based on almost no information and certainly no relationship. To the hearer, it carries an underlying message (surely unintended) of ‘We have everything, so we can take care of you.’ It is similar to the paternalism that has helped make these reservations the disasters they are.
So the honest answer to your question at this stage of our budding relationship is we need people “out there” to understand us; to understand our history, to understand our communities, to understand our ministry. From that a mutual relationship of the Body of Christ can grow, for both sides have strength and weakness to share.”
And so we pray,
Father, help me to be like a refreshing cup of cold water on a hot summer’s day to the friends You’ve given me. May I contribute encouragement, comfort, wisdom, accountability, and loyalty to our friendship. Help me to reserve judgment and faithfully pray for my friends as we walk together heart to heart and hand in hand. Amen.
(quoted from “Friends” by Stephen C. Weber in Prayer)