InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Reaching Native Students with the Gospel

(Photo courtesy of InterVarsity)

A U.S. campus ministry is reaching the hearts of Native American young people.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship began its Native-specific ministry in 2000. Today, the program is changing lives, perceptions, and even worship styles.

One Journey Creates a Path

Megan Murdock Krischke joined InterVarsity as a student, then went on to join the staff after graduation. Krischke is the daughter of a Cherokee mother and a Wyandotte father, so it didn’t take long for her to notice there was nothing for Native students among InterVarsity’s multi-ethnic ministries.

“I knew I was Native and just cared about everyone having a place at the table,” Murdock Krischke says.

“My dream for my life… is that by the time I die, Native communities would find it laughable that they ever considered Jesus the ‘white man’s God’. Because the reality is, He’s… an ethnic man, a tribal man.”

In 2016, Murdock Krischke became InterVarsity’s first-ever national Native Ministries Coordinator. She identifies five thresholds each Native person must cross in their journey of faith.

Step One: Trust

The first step is the hardest one: beginning to trust Christians. Given historic relations between Christians and Native communities, this can be a long and difficult process.

“The Church has mistreated Native people and communicated that they’re not made in the image of God… that’s just a big threshold [to cross],” Murdock Krishke says.

Several years ago, Murdock Krishke and her husband began a Native-specific chapter at Fort Lewis College in Colorado.  Describing her experience gaining the community’s trust, Murdock Krishke says, “When we first came to Fort Lewis, they wouldn’t even let us hang a poster in the Native Student Center. But, in year seven, we had a key.”

Step Two: Curiosity

Cultivating curiosity is a little easier, Murdock Krischke says. When believers express their faith through Native culture, it sparks curiosity.

“They have had the Church telling them ‘You can’t do that’, and they’ve had traditionalists saying ‘You can’t do that’,” she says of incorporating faith and Native culture.

InterVarsity’s Native ministry incorporates Native drums in worship and frybread in communion, giving a familiar feel to things that were formerly foreign.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Kali Katerberg

CALL TO ACTION

  • Learn about the Native people of your region.
  • Support Native Christian leaders.
  • Pray for an atmosphere of trust and service in outreach.
  • Pray for receptivness towards the gospel among Native students.