August 9, 2012 – Fort Yates, North Dakota

“Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phillipians 2:9-11)

“What’s in a name?” as Shakespeare writes. We asked ourselves this question during the devotional this morning. Jesus, the Christ, had many. A quick Web search tonight led me to fourteen different names in six books of the New Testament and five in Isaiah alone. Most of them are familiar titles in our Christian lexicon – Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Son of God, Lamb of God, Savior, Rabbi, Christ (Anointed One) and Alpha and Omega to name a few. Our devotion leaders gave each of us the an index card before our closing with the etymology of our names. Andrew means courageous and enduring in Greek. I’ve been aware since my first memory of Sunday School that my famous namesake was the brother of Simon Peter, who dropped his net and followed Jesus when Jesus first called him. It seems pretty courageous by any measure, but all things are possible through Christ, right? Oh boy, I have big shoes to fill, indeed.

But what does this have to do with our mission at Tipi Wakan? At the surface, perhaps, it doesn’t resonate. We’re here to serve the Lord by healing, teaching, and spreading the good news through example and witness to the Native Americans of Tipi Wakan and by acts of simple service to our hosts, Pastor Boots and Jackie Marsh. Those are two names and then a BIG label. Then we add the people behind the label – names, faces, personalities, humanness. Now, it starts getting really messy and personal, and this is where we really encounter Christ Jesus. At least, this has been my experience. Each of us has a name, a singular identity, and we are called to relationship with the living God, I AM. Through a personal relationship with the Son, we are saved from our own sins and given clear example of how to serve God by serving the least, the greatest and every name and face in between. Perhaps by this our names become “the secret weapons of the Lord.”

Today was a day for the Lord’s secret weapons. The medical team travelled about 10 miles away to the tribal community of Solen, home to about 100 people, to conduct a health clinic. In the local thrift store, the medical team saw about 8 or 9 residents, both men and women, and conducted blood pressure and glucose screenings as well as distributed health education materials (supplied courtesy of Virginia Department of Health and Martin’s grocery stores). This followed on the heals of a successful health screening outside the veterinary clinic in Canon Ball yesterday, in which our medial team served the pet owners outside, while their pets were being served inside by a different volunteer organization.

At 1:30 PM, the wheels on the bus went round and round, as the VBS team in the little white bus made its way through the streets of Canon Ball to pick up God’s little lambs for out last day of Bible school. Once again, we had a big turn-out of children – boys and girls – and all agreed that Jesus gave us plenty of opportunities. “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'” (Luke 18:16)

A very special moment occurred this afternoon when Bonnie George, a person of Native American descent herself, observed the protocol of greeting the District Chairman along with Pastor Boots and Laura Lee, and offering him a gift on behalf of our group. The District Chairman, Chief Robert Fullbear, drove up to Tipi Wakan on his Harley Davidson like a scene out of a movie, and the boys in my VBS recreation group yelled, “Grandfather!” and ditched me like an old pair of shoes. The greatest became the least and the least became the greatest as Chief Robert took time to speak to each boy who approached him.

Our construction team finished the job they came to do, and Pastor Boots now has a covered walkway connecting the Tipi Wakan main building to his Pastor’s study in the rear of the outbuilding next to it. Watching these men work together and accomplish so much in such a short period of time was quite a treat, and they have much for which to be proud. However, construction team members also took time out of their schedule to be “grandfathers” to the children in VBS, spreading the Gospel by the simple act of loving children. Our memorial garden and organizing team completed the majority of its goals as well, and the entire mission team looked forward to early closure tomorrow of our projects in preparation for some local sightseeing and the tribal powwow tomorrow night.

As of this writing, the ladies on the Spa Night team had not yet returned from round two of Ladies Spa Night at Tipi Wakan. This can only mean that the activity was a success, and we look forward to hearing the humorous stories and Kingdom Moments experienced this evening.

Until tomorrow, good night and peace from Fort Yates, North Dakota (or thereabouts).