For these next several days I will be on mission on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. I have come to love our work in Cherokee, and I always look forward both to the opportunity to get back into the mountains, as the mountainous reservation is adjacent to the Great Smokies; and to the opportunities to renew old friendships while making new ones.
I also enjoy sharing why we do what we do.
Some have wondered: “Why Cherokee?” The answer is part of a bigger question: “Why Native American Mission?” After all, I supposed some assume, it is not like they are a pagan people, unexposed to the gospel.
While it is certainly true that Native Americans have had interaction with Christians for years, I find people are stunned when they hear how few are followers of Jesus Christ. I know I was. Overall only about 3% of Native Americans profess to believe the gospel. To be considered an Unreached People Group a People must be less than 2.5% evangelized. So it is obvious that despite having the “advantage” of regular interaction with American Christianity, Native Americans almost qualify as an Unreached People. When I think of this, and then consider that, at least by my observations among the Cherokee, the vast majority of those in church on any given week are very, very old, it will not be long until Native Americans revert back into Unreached Peoples – unless they are reached now.
Perhaps the thing that first struck me, and continues to fuel my commitment to Native American Mission, was an ad I saw a number of years ago in some Christian magazine. I do not recall either the publication or mission agency that had placed the ad, (perhaps First Tribes,) but the caption read:
“Why should America’s First People, be the last to hear?”
The unjust irony struck a nerve; and the opportunity to serve struck a chord. So now, I am laboring as part of the mission staff a few weeks each Summer, and a couple other times each year, to be part of the answer.
To give you a good introduction to the work we are doing, and why we are doing it, please watch the video above.