Native Americans from 15 states and First Nations people from three Canadian provinces participated in "The Gathering," a March 2-4 conference in Oklahoma City aimed at removing barriers to bringing hope to native peoples across North America through faith in Christ.
"We came from Nebraska expecting something miraculous because we need a miracle," said Ron Goombi, a North American Mission Board missionary to Native Americans in Nebraska and Kansas.
Goombi brought people from eight tribes in the two states. "Our suicide rates are so high the tribe doesn't know what to do. The water system is breaking down," he said. "We need to live beyond the barriers we have."
A platform decorated simply with an Indian tepee, two feathered headdresses and a native drum set the stage at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City for the event that underscored:
-- the effectivenesss of telling stories, rather than sermonizing, in reaching native peoples.
-- being true to the Gospel while at the same time seeking to understand the worldview of Native Americans and First Nations peoples.
-- use of in-home groups, not just church buildings, to draw native peoples to the Gospel.
"It pretty much confirmed what I had come to the conclusion of, concerning work with Native Americans," said Richard Delores, a member of the Pueblo Laguna tribe and pastor of Laguna Acoma Baptist Mission in Budville, N.M., who brought four members -- new Christians -- to The Gathering.
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