For the last year, Jesse and I have been praying and thinking about full-time missions. We've actually been considering missions individually before we knew each other and then together from the early times of our dating and decided we would always be open to go wherever God called us. Last year we decided to attend our church's missions conference with no specific expectation that we would feel called anywhere at this point. However, God's plans are always higher than our own, and He definitely has all of our days written in His book.
Of all the missionaries who spoke, the only one I even remember was Chris Granberry, who has lived and worked on the Yakama Indian Reservation for the last six years with his wife, Mary, and four kids, Ann Marie, Beth, Morgan, and David. The name of the ministry is Sacred Road Ministries and at this point, the Granberrys are the only family there. Chris was ordained through the PCA in August and is focusing on planting a church in the town of White Swan outside of Yakima, WA.
It's difficult to know where to start. Beyond being heartbroken to hear about the conditions on the reservation, we were instantly excited about looking more into the ministry, with the possibility of joining them, and at least possibly getting involved ourselves and opening doors for the young adult small group we lead to serve as well.
It worked out for us to go visit in January and spend our first few days on the Rez. We really started to fall in love with the Native people and found our hearts saddened by seeing third world conditions a mere 2 1/2 hours from where I grew up. We were able to find out a lot more about the current work and the vision the Granberrys have, and even start dreaming about what roles God might have waiting for us.
In the past six years, the Lord has worked amazing things through the Granberrys and continues to work. Each summer, they have to turn away teams from churches across the country because they don't have room for them to stay and work on the reservation. Teams work on houses, roofing, painting, etc, and run afternoon kids clubs at nearby housing projects. During the rest of the year, life is filled with the same types of activities as well as mentoring those Native Americans that have become Christians. Chris leads a large Tuesday night Bible study with dinner provided (by Mary and whatever helpers she may find) for at least 50-70 people.
At this point, they are establishing a church family and getting ready to build a facility for the church services and for teams to stay in when they come. Jesse is hoping (if we get approved following our evaluation) to help start up an after school tutoring program that would hopefully turn into a full middle/high school. I am excited to see what God might have for both of us, knowing that the education and gifts that He has given me are ultimately His and He will use them no matter where we are in life.
We applied for the ministry in June, and rather than going through the faster, shorter intern application process, we decided that if we were thinking about moving to the Yakima area long term, it would be better to go through the longer evaluation and support raising process. We heard in mid-September that the Sacred Road Board of Directors had approved our application and we could start planning to go through the evaluation process. At this point, we are planning to fly to San Diego in January for a week, although most of the week will be spent in Tijuana for evaluation and classes. There is one other couple that is currently raising support to join Chris and Mary, and another couple who will be going through the evaluation process with us in January.
Please pray for us during this time. The more I am in the Word and prayer, the more eager I am to follow God where He calls. I have been encouraged by reading many books as well, especially L'Abri by Edith Schaeffer, and recently finished rereading Peace Child by Don Richardson about working with a primitive cannibalistic tribe in Papua New Guinea. We are filled with excitement about what God might have before us.
If you want to see more information about Sacred Road, you can follow the link on the left column of my blog to their blog or you can see their official website at www.sacredroadministries.org. You can also see some of their phenomenal videos from this past summer when the teams came and did work. Chris does a great job explaining their philosophy on some of the videos on youtube if you search for "sacred road ministries." Or you can ask us and we would love to send you the DVD about the ministry. Please pray for us to be willing to forsake all we know for the call of Christ to share His love with the poor and afflicted. Pray for us to be confident in His provision no matter where He calls us. Pray for strength for me in knowing the best way and time to approach my workplace about this opportunity before us.