Global Impact Team: American Indian Field
By Kate Berkey - August 9, 2017
Posted in Partnerships, Global Impact, Stories from NMC, Discipleship
All day he wriggled in his seat, struggled to listen to instructions, and ran away whenever possible—and he found every opportunity. Sitting still wasn’t a strength of his. In fact, he seemed to thrive in his own chaos, dragging people into his world. But this one hour was different.
One of the camp counselors told him to pick a couple of his favorite books in the library and meet her on the chairs in the corner. He raced through the aisles, stopping briefly in front of a few sections. By the time he was finished, he had an armful of books, and he wanted to read them all.
The camp counselor, Beth, patted the chair beside her. He hoisted the books in her lap and wriggled into the seat, sliding a little closer to her chair. Beth took a deep breath and picked up the first book. And for the first time all week, he sat still, watching every page Beth turned, every word as she read. For the first time all week, no one was scolding him. No one was trying to corral him. No one was telling him to stop or be quiet. In that library, he felt so completely safe next to an adult who cared for him deeply. For the whole hour, he didn’t move. In the security of her love, he found peace and an escape from the chaos in his little mind.
As Beth read, she was overcome with God’s goodness. Only an hour earlier, her team had prayed for this little boy. They had prayed for peace and stillness, for him to feel loved and cared for, cherished and secure. As he sat close and still, she knew she was in the presence of a holy God at work in the American Indian Field in Arizona.
A couple of weeks ago, a team of 10 returned from a Global Impact trip with missionaries Darin and Laura Arnott, who work with Native Americans just outside of Phoenix. This team stepped up after another group had to pull out unexpectedly as camp counselors. This group quickly assembled under the leadership of Niel Diener and prepared to live with 5-8 year olds 24 hours a day for five days.
Throughout the week, the kids played classic summer camp games and bounced around to different stations. Our team dressed up in silly costumes and acted out skits together, focusing on the theme of “Christmas in July.” They told the story of Jesus’ birth and celebrated the Good News in 100+ degree temperatures. They ate meals with the kids, and relished in the 45 minutes of nap time, which usually turned into kids trying to sneak out of bed.
It was a classic summer camp for young kids, and our team had the joy of sharing this experience with dear friends of NMC, Darin and Laura Arnott. Over the week, they also experienced the many nuances of the Native American culture. As Niel put it, they saw the effects that drug and alcohol addiction have on kids, not to mention its effects on the culture as a whole.
As our team loved on the kids, they heard snippets of their stories. They heard about the challenges they faced, the influences that surrounded them, and the pain they had already experienced in their short lives. Just as NMC camp counselors try to do, this Global Impact team tried to show the love of Jesus to these boys and girls, teaching them about God’s goodness and life.
Many on the team felt out of their element, living outside of their comfort zone 24 hours a day during the camp. As they loved on the kids, they also fully recognized their deep and unwavering dependence on Jesus, the same Jesus whose life and love they were trying to show to the kids. It was this same Jesus who carried them day by day.
When camp came to a close, the team toured the areas with Darin and Laura, visiting other areas the Arnotts had grown to love. They met Pastor Felix, a man who works as a landscaper during the week, but drives 120 miles every weekend to pastor a church on one of the area’s reservations. They stopped by Mondo’s and ate incredible food prepared by one of the men in Darin and Laura’s small group. They experienced Darin and Laura’s life on the mission field and saw first-hand the need and the work being done.
As the team packed their bags to return home, they reflected on camp, remembering the fun they had helping kids try to swim in the pool, playing games with them, eating meals with them. They remembered the meaningful times during chapel and during the skits. They reflected on the kids’ stories and on the words they prayed over them daily. They thought about the people they met—Mondo, Pastor Felix, Pastor Steve—and thought about their deep love for their neighbors. They thought about Darin and Laura’s dreams and visions and prayed desperately for God to open doors.
And they remembered those hours during reading time when even the most difficult child felt safe enough to sit still and experience peace.