Thursday, December 23, 2010

We have been asked not to take or post any pictures of the Hopi reservation, homes or people. This map shows the area where we are currently staying and ministering with the Hopi.
By Margie Hall

     Wow!  How God keeps enlarging my picture of Himself, and my awareness of many things! But beware, until the 4th paragraph, below, I am sort of (?) on a soap box.  When our country was very young, our government broke many treaties with the original inhabitants of this great land, the people we call Indians. Though not proud of it, I must admit I gave it very little thought overall.  Now I think "How arrogant we were, to think we had the right to move in and take over the land of another people, just because we wanted it and because we could do it!!  They were willing to share, but we took it all, "generously" allotting them a tiny fraction of "our" land.
     What I did not know was that our government forcibly removed Indian children from their homes and placed them into boarding schools, in order to brainwash them and turn them into white people.  Not only did our ancestors wipe out many unintentionally through disease, because their bodies had no immunity to some of the sicknesses they brought with them, but they slaughtered many deliberately and cruelly, in addition to those killed in battle.  There was at least one instance where so-called Christian people burned women and children alive in their village.  I can hardly imagine such a thing, but it is true; and all because we considered ourselves and our culture to be superior.  We didn't understand them, and they got in our way, so we either eliminated or degraded and quarantined them on reservations. 
     The very worst part is that so many of the people doing these things considered themselves to be Christians, and somehow deceived themselves into believing it was okay.  Boarding Schools, Christian and government alike, taught the children that being Indian was all wrong, even evil.  They were punished even for speaking their own language.  I wonder what Bible these people were reading.  God NEVER forces himself on someone.  Love cannot be forced, it must be won; that is how God captured us, and how we are to represent him.  And before we Americans were here the Spanish Conquistadores came in, conquering, enslaving and forcing their brand of "Christianity" on those they conquered.  Is it any wonder that so few native people are Christian, and the rest are so resistant?
    Okay!  I'll get off my soapbox and share a little of what we have learned about the Hopi people, and how God has enlarged my very small mind and heart a size or two.  The Hopi people are a peace-loving, gentle, non-nomadic people who prize character qualities that we would call Christian.  I just talked with a missionary woman here who has known native peoples all her life.  A Hopi man who was a close friend of her late husband told them that his grandfather told him that their people, long ago, knew who Jesus was and they followed him, but that over the years the truth became diluted and other things came in that polluted their religion.  They had a prophecy that one day white men would come, bringing a Black Book that would show them the truth.
     The white men with the Black Book did come, but they got so caught up with greed over the gold they found, that they themselves forgot all about what that Black Book taught, and instead followed the ways of the evil one, as I mentioned above, and that is what our own ancestors did.  Sadly, many in the church of today still believe that everything of native culture is evil, and they are making the same mistake as the Judaizers of Paul's day, who wanted the Gentiles to become Jews. God wanted both Jews and Gentiles to follow Jesus, and redeem their cultures from within, discarding only those things which violated God's character.  We Christians have taken some pagan symbols such as Christmas trees, and even the day on which we celebrate Easter, and infused them with new meaning.  The Indians should be allowed to do the same thing.  God made us different and he values each of us. Whether we enjoy all worship styles or not, God does, and he is more interested in the condition of each man's heart than he is the worship style.
     Through all this, and more, I have realized that I have been looking through a very narrow lens.  When I visualized God on His throne the picture was more like a square or rectangle, with God at one end and everyone else before him.  Now I see the throne room as circular, with God in the center and surrounded by people of every tongue and tribe and nation (a very large circle!). Since the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead "...there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12), but that doesn't mean that he has not been speaking to and drawing people to himself from every place to which people went after the Tower of Babel Gen. 11:4-9.  He only tells us part of His story (history), the part having to do with the beginning of all things, the entrance of sin, and the preservation of the seed of our Savior.  The story of the Bible is one of redemption, and it's all we need to know in order to recognize our need of a Savior, and to know our incredibly wonderful and loveable God, what He is like and how he wants us to live.
     I don't know what God is going to do with this 70 year young woman when our Outreach is finished, but I know it will be good.  I am learning to trust him for more and more, as he stretches me more and more, and as I obey, often with fear and trembling.  Someone once said to Corrie ten Boom that Corrie had a lot of faith.  She replied that no, she just followed a big Jesus (or something of that sort).  That's what I am doing -- because He is worthy, and I do so want others to know our awesome God.  Oh my!  What we have yet to look forward to!