This year marks the 125th anniversary of WELS World Mission work on the Apache reservation in Arizona. While the Native American Mission is planning to celebrate its history and God’s blessings over the years, it also is looking forward to how it can share the gospel message in the future.
“Our past is amazing,” says Dan Rautenberg, the Native American Mission field coordinator. “We honor that, but at the same time we’re not just looking back at the amazing things people did long ago. Our people have the same potential now, and we have new opportunities.”
He continues, “That’s what Christians do—we receive the gospel, we get on our feet, and we spread the gospel. We need to take our part in that long line of Christians throughout history.”
The mission has its eyes on the 500-plus other reservations throughout the United States. Rautenberg says 95 percent of the Native Americans on these reservations aren’t Christian.
While the mission has some contacts on other reservations, it is hoping to broaden its reach through its new website, NativeChristians.org. Developed as part of the anniversary celebration, the website is working to establish an identity that’s wider than just the two current reservations, hence the name Native Christians. The site currently shares 125th anniversary plans and historical articles about the field, but future plans call for making the site an evangelism tool that Native Christians can use to share the gospel with their friends, family, and acquaintances—no matter where they’re located. “We have the unique ability to personalize it from natives for natives,” says Rautenberg.
The ultimate goal, according to Rautenberg, is to be looking at two new prospective mission sites in the next three years.
He knows that won’t be easy. “But it wasn’t easy to start a mission 125 years ago either,” he says. “That’s our challenge. To take a church that’s done so much in the past but still has energy to go out into the future.”
Check out the new website at NativeChristians.org.
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Volume 105, Number 4
Issue: April 2018
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