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SEND Initiative High School Bridger Trip Lazarus and the Lakota Reservation

The students arrived in Bridger Monday at 8:00 p.m. after 14 hours on the road.They agreed to leave at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to help Hawkwing unload 240 donated new mattresses. What a group! Today they had a morning hike up the ridge. I'm sure their experience is changing their lives and making a memory that will serve them forever.









Several years ago, John Howell wrote an Advent devotion about Lazarus and a Lakota grandmother. We thought Dr. Howell's thoughts about Lazarus and the Lakota people were worth sharing again here as you pray for the High School SEND team. Hopefully, we can learn from the trip as well.

Luke 16:19-31

But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony” (Luke 16:25).

The central figure in Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man is Lazarus. He was homeless, crippled, covered with sores and hungry to the point of eating bread thrown under the table when a sumptuous meal was served in the rich man’s house. Tradition declared that bread was used as a napkin during the meal and was thrown under the table after serving its purpose. Lazarus was obviously one of the nobodies in Jesus’ stories of people for whom nobody cares.

Now suppose we turn away from Lazarus to visit an elderly Lakota Indian grandmother in North Dakota. She is facing a typical winter while living in a shack with a leaking roof, walls blackened by soot from a malfunctioning coal stove and no family to protect her. She is one of the nobodies in that northern culture.

Suddenly members of a tribal repair group come to her shack with repair materials, money, and skills to change her living quarters. Now she will be warm, dry, and clean for the winter, even in her one-room shack.

What happens to Lazarus? He and the rich man, who was given the name Dives, will die and go to Sheol, the Jewish place of the dead. But now circumstances are changed. Lazarus has entered the Paradise section of Sheol, while Dives is assigned to the punishment section. Why the difference?

Father Abraham explains, “Son, remember in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.” Throughout the times of Lazarus’ agony, Dives could have obeyed the instructions of the Torah, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), but he ignored his neighbor’s need for care.

The difference between the Lakota grandmother and Lazarus is that someone cared for her while Dives did not care for Lazarus. This is the challenge of Jesus’ story. Dives in Sheol may eventually express some concern for his brothers, but it comes too late to warn them.  Abraham says if they have not obeyed the Torah, “they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” The failure of many today to trust in the risen Christ proves that to be true.

Dr. John C. Howell










at Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 0 comments
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Is Attending Serving


When it comes to church and church ministries, is attending, serving? I don’t think so.

When I go to a restaurant, I attend it as a paying customer. Unless the tea pitcher is close and the wait staff very busy and slow, I don’t get involved in serving. (In a desperate moment, I have been known to get the tea pitcher and serve myself and others.)

In this same thought line, attending worship, attending a Bible study, attending a meeting does not necessarily mean that we are serving. It may lead to service but just attending doesn’t count as service.

James seems to say that if we are paying attention to what we are attending, it will result in serving. Serving is the other side of the two-headed coin of learning and serving. Or in the Message, James uses the word act instead of serving in this passage.

James 1:22-24 (Message) says “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”

Posted by Connie McNeill at Monday, June 19, 2017 | 0 comments
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Bridger South Dakota Update June 16

Kenny and Karen Sherin are self-funded Field Personnel working in South Dakota.  Kenny describes their work as being “tent-makers.”  What he means is the model for their service is that they work regular paying jobs outside of their mission work and that they are an active part of the community. By becoming actual residents of the community, they can work with others in the community instead of for others in the community.

Kenny works as a Community Development Field Specialist with South Dakota State University Extension.  He and Karen have volunteered for the last several years with Together for Hope as Community Development Advisors.  Kenny says, “As we have lived in South Dakota …we realize that the issues of poverty in rural South Dakota are unique, wide-spread, and challenging.  We have chosen the approach of the ‘mustard seed’ in our endeavors to begin ministering here.”

Matthew tells the story of Jesus teaching from a boat while the multitudes are gathered on the shore. Jesus “told them many things in parables.”  One of those stories was the parable of the mustard seed.  The Sherins are hoping to plant many mustard seeds of faith in South Dakota and that those seeds will grow into sustainable ministries that will have a long-lasting effect on improving this poverty stricken area.

Together for Hope South Dakota (TFHSD) is a CBF rural poverty initiative that is a Christ-centered ministry working for a better future for residents of four of the poorest counties in the United States; Buffalo, Todd, Ziebach and Shannon counties.  These counties have a rich cultural history but extreme poverty. TFHSD works with Reservation ministers and leaders on the reservations, including Pine Ridge.  Wikipedia identifies the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as being one of the poorest places in America.  The Sherins and other CBF Field Personnel are committed to working alongside other community leaders concentrating their efforts on four areas; developing an entrepreneurial opportunity for economic development, programs that increase opportunities for children and teens, health care and cultural preservation.

These efforts begin with listening.  It is important to approach the problems without a preconceived agenda of trying to impose a solution on the community but by sharing in the efforts of those who already live and work in the community.  This is what Ken means when he describes their work as planting the mustard seed.  They plant the seed of hope along with other residents and then work to cultivate that seed of faith into a growing change in the hearts and lives of the people in this place that desperately needs the love of Christ.

2BC has long been a partner in this ministry. Mike Lassiter has been in South Dakota most of June and participated in discussions about what that partnership looks like going forward. This week the High School SEND Initiative team will join Mike in South Dakota. Charles Smith says, "We'll be working on several projects while we are with the community, including sanding, priming, painting, laying insulation, and cleaning and caring for the grounds and the community buildings. We may have an opportunity to partner with an organization that is repairing and enhancing the youth center in Cherry Creek. We may also be able to do some projects for the Takini school as they get ready for the new school year. We'll spend some good time continuing to build relationships with the children and the folks in the community."

at Saturday, June 17, 2017 | 0 comments
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