“Let It Rain” Oklahoma Conference Native American Camp Meeting
WEWOKA, OKLA. – A calm, quiet evening. A warm fire in the lodge overlooking a peaceful lake. It was the perfect setting for the Oklahoma Conference’s Native American Camp Meeting which took place Oct. 22-23. The weekend’s theme, “Let It Rain,” was introduced by Jim Landelius, Native Ministries Assistant Director and Sabbath began with Jennifer LaMountain’s luminous vocals.
Landelius led Friday evening’s program, describing a city on a hill that cannot be hid, (Matthew 5:13-16) and telling the story from Mark 5:1 about Jesus restoring a demon-possessed man. Jesus asked the healed man to stay in his village to share the Good News with others, and many of the man’s friends “marveled.” Native Elders are vital to Native communities and several speakers hold that status, lending expertise to the presentations. Native Elder Robert Burnette (Onandaga), Native Ministries Director, closed the meeting with a group prayer time where guests who felt led could share short prayers.
Sabbath morning started with North Carolina pastor and Native Elder Scotty Deal (Tuscarora) playing “Amazing Grace” on a native flute. Burnette shared “How to Teach A Vibrant Sabbath School,” stressing the importance of meeting people’s needs by understanding what they might know rather than assuming they have a spiritual background–many have never read a Bible or any spiritual books. He suggested posting scriptures around our homes so that we will see the words of God before us, and they will become part of our thoughts and vocabulary.
Guests were blessed with a short concert by Jennifer LaMountain between Sabbath School and the worship message by Oklahoma Conference President James Shires. Sabbath afternoon topics included church growth and how to present the plant-based lifestyle program “Diabetes Undone” to communities. Native Elder Fred Rogers spoke about Adventist and Jewish beliefs in Indian culture; Landelius shared how to present lessons on interpersonal relationships
from CREATION Health. These health issues are relevant to Native Americans who tend to suffer from diabetes and suicide at a high rate.
Closing the conference, Deal sang “You Raise Me Up” and shared a message about knowing our true worth, titled “The Gospel in a Dime”. Deal spoke openly about his crooked path to God, including his “success” as a drug dealer, how God miraculously saved his life five times, and how he finally relented to God’s call in a nightclub 24 years ago. With his voice trembling, Deal emphasized that no matter how lost we are, Jesus is desperate to save each one of us. He shared how he and his wife were shopping at a home improvement store when they encountered a former friend. The friend didn’t recognize Deal at first without his long hair and old attitude, but 10 minutes later, they were praying by the appliances. Afterward, the friend revealed that he was at the store in order to put off going home where he intended to end his life. In fact, he had loaded his shotgun earlier that day.
By Caroline Fisher