It was a camp meeting, a tent revival, Navajo style.  Stanley and Mary put up a tent on their land, put a sign out by the road, and put meat on the grill.

Stanley is an older Navajo, a solid Christian.  His wife Mary helps with music at the First Indian Baptist in Gallup.  But their faith is so strong they were willing to give of themselves for the Gospel to be heard.  So he put up a tent and borrowed chairs from 3 churches – seats for 60 in the dirt-floor “tabernacle”.  And next to it, a tent with eating tables.  You know there was plenty: posole soup and chicken soup and fry bread.

Our purpose was to mix and mingle and build relationships.  I met a man who was 98 years old, a Navajo who had in his younger years traveled the country as a translator for an evangelist to the Navajos.  What a great time talking to him!  But soon, food was over and the service began.

It was a preaching service, but Stanley opened the floor for testimony.  Pastor Gary, our mission host, made sure I got up to sing, and I dragged Meredith and Bethany to sing with me.  And there were testimonies of faith.

Finally, Pastor Bobby Boyd got up to preach.  He is a Navajo preacher and brought some from his church (including the 98-year old man).    He preached because Stanley had come down with a cold, and was unable to preach that night.

Pastor Boyd uses an interesting advertising program to get his message out.  He puts baskets of sermon tapes and CDs at the local Christian bookstore and at truck stops, to be given away for free to whomever wants to hear.  And those who take them will be encouraged, and will call him to preach for their services.  His model of advertising is to give himself away and let God arrange his speaking calendar.

It was a great sermon, reminding us that we are by nature sinful, born into a disfunctional family, unable to meet the standards of our heavenly Father.  But that loving Father made a way for us to be saved.  Pastor Boyd then got to meddling – telling us we were justified and sanctified not for ourselves, but for service.  But the rewards he described, the wages of a faithful servant, is righteousness, right standing before God.

And he closed with a passage paraphrased from Ezekiel:  “If you leave here without Jesus, it’s not my fault, because I told you Truth tonite.”

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Today, Liberty’s Navajo Mission Trip really began. We arrived in Gallup Saturday evening, did the Wal-Mart run for supplies we didn’t want to bring on the plane (like a couple of cases of bottled water). Then we settled into our sleeping quarters, the Super 8 Motel. Clean and inexpensive, with breakfast and an indoor pool area we could use for group meetings, but small for 2 adults and 2 teens. But sacrifice is the name of the game, huh?

Meredith & I began practicing our music for the morning service, and since Bethany also sings in the choir, I enlisted her to help. Mer’s choice was “It Is Well” and I had us sing a couple more.

When I got to the church building, I compared my list to what was in the Navajo song book and only sang songs that were in both. By God’s grace, it matched the sermon exactly, and I saw that the songs told a message that encouraged both Anglo and Indian participants. There were about 40 whites and 30 Navajos there – it packed the church building. And they sang us a couple of choruses in Navajo.

As we were getting ready for the service, a man came in who was visiting that day. He said he recognized me, but i couldn’t imagine from where. Turns out, he and I were in college together for a couple of years in the late 70s, in Oklahoma. His dad had died a year ago and his mom had been living with him in Texas. He was back with his mom to help pack out the house, and stopped into the church where his dad had been an interim pastor once. Unfortunately, he left before the service was over, and I didn’t get to talk with him as much as I’d like. (Truth is, I was more worried about leading music than talking at the beginning of the service, and missed my chance. My loss.)

This morning reinforced to me that those who teach prejudice in the Christian community are usually trying to sell something besides Jesus.  Though we spoke 2 languages, and come from multiple cultures, we all sang and prayed together with and for one another.  Thus begins a heart for missions.