Fellowship of Native American Christians Deals With Spiritual Needs

Native Americans balance life in both the Native and white culture and too often lose to both, Gary Hawkins said in his executive director’s report during the Fellowship of Native American Christians sixth annual gathering in Dallas.

“Spiritual needs are tremendous among Native people,” Hawkins said during FoNAC’s June 10-11 meeting in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

“Fewer than 10 percent of Natives have an ongoing personal relationship with Christ Jesus, and a lot of them are dying without a clear presentation of salvation, making it so important we reach out today on our reservations and in our cities with ways of contextualizing the Gospel to best reach Natives,” Hawkins said.

“The world system is against spiritual things regarding God’s Kingdom work. But if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, you don’t have anything of eternal significance.”

The FoNAC meeting included a variety of reports and a display of the Gospel contextualized in Pawnee music, drums and dance led by Warren “Junior” Pratt, Pawnee chief and pastor of First Indian Baptist Church in Cushing, Okla. In their Gospel presentations, Pratt and his family are known as the Tribe of Judah Native Dance Ministry.

FoNAC treasurer Tim Chavis, a Lumbee Native from the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association in North Carolina, presented a budget of $75,720 for the coming fiscal year, including $10,000 for regional seminars for training Native pastors and those who want to minister within a Native context.

The first regional training was at First Indian Baptist Church in Phoenix last year. Training on the East Coast or possibly in Oklahoma is planned for the coming year.

Hawkins opened his director’s report by explaining FoNAC’s scope:

“There are 567 federally-recognized tribes in the USA and 617 First Nations communities in Canada,” he said. “The spiritual needs are tremendous among Native people. It’s not that Native people lack spirituality. Many are very spiritual and very sincere, yet a personal relationship with Christ Jesus is sadly missing.”

FoNAC has grown as people have begun to respond to the need and the focus of its board and advisory council, Hawkins said.

“FoNAC started six years ago with $3,000, and for the first time this year our income has exceeded $100,000,” he said. “We’re growing and we’re networking, building partnerships.”

The Native American fellowship is connecting denominational and tribal leaders, ministry partners with Native people of North America and other ministries for synergy that results in greater impact, Hawkins reported.

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Source: Baptist Press