Check out Randy's website for our schedule. Randy Barnetson.comThank you for your prayers as we are known to travel a fair bit.
This next section is where I will place various stories of my life. Also, some books I've read that I'd like to tell you about. Hopefully you will be encouraged by some of my experiences (in my young life, ayyy).
We are traveling full time. This past fall we were on the prairies (LOVED IT!) and now are spending the first half of December on Vancouver Island. This Island is just amazing and beautiful.
After Christmas we will visit Princeton Foursquare Church, on Dec 28. Then we head north to visit family in Prince George area and also Nadleh - yahoo! Then we head West again and hope to make it to the Charlottes.
Next spring we will head into Eastern Canada ... we just cannot wait!
I read Ian Frazier's "On The Rez". It was quite a good read. Although it was not written by an Indigenous person, it has some great insights into our people. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about his hero's, Crazy Horse and Sue Ann Big Crow. It was worth the read just for those stories.
February 19, 2007
I've got another book to tell you about,
Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie.
While on a seven hour flight from Chicago to Frankfurt (on my way to Russia last month) I thought I'd start this book. It was such a good book I finished it well before the flight ended.
The flight was full and everyone was enjoying their sleep and/or a movie. While reading this book I found myself smiling, crying, getting angry, and also busting out laughing, (and I don't have a quiet little laugh, I'm kind of obnoxious : )
It is such a good book. Mr. Alexie does a great job of telling our story. Everyone with connections to a reservation will thoroughly enjoy this book and I give it an Indian thumbs up.
January 4, 2007
Oh man, is it 2007 already? Time flies as they say.
I just finished a new book I am reading for my big paper for school, it's called,
"Writing the Cross Culture: Native Fiction on the White Man's Religion." Edited by James Treat.
It is a collection of stories by all-Native authors and is as the title suggests, Native views of Christianity. Not everyone of these authors is a Christian some are traditionalist and all are incredibly insightful. (You can find it on Amazon).It opens with a story by Vine Deloria Jr., he writes as if from 1504, its great.
While reading this book - every story in fact - I felt an affinity with the characters and story, as a Native person. As a Christian, I sometimes felt affirmed and relieved and yet at other times I was a bit saddened. This book made me want to be better, to give our people the best presentation of the Gospel as possible.
I would like to recommend this book to all my indigenous friends - all you wild Indians! I can also recommend this book to any others who may be interesting in Native writers who are writing fiction that speaks clearly about the Native situation today. It was both historical and current. It related to me in various ways and on various levels.
I was a little surprised at first, I laughed out loud, I cried (actually, I bawled during one story) and I felt all ranges of emotion in between while reading this book. A few of these stories will never leave me.
It was an overwhemlingly good read.
November 3, 2006
This weekend is the Santa Fe Springs Native Hope International Pow Wow. It'll be just down the street from our house and is one of the biggest non-contest pow wow's in the LA area.
It is really a great thing to meet with out people out in the community and to simply "be" with our people. We need to journey together, laugh, cry and love.
When we go out there we are really fulfilling what Jerry Cook talks about in his book, The Monday Morning Church.
It's a new day in First Nations ministry where we are being trusted, as Native leaders, to theologize for our own people. This is new for us, and exciting.
For so many years our people have had to change in order to be acceptable to regular society. This is common in churches as well.
We were just having a discussion with a good friend of ours (a non-native) who believes there is a middle road between contextualization of the Gospel for Native people and those in ministry who are against contextualization.
I'm not so sure there is a middle road.
Our friend said we need to be careful for our "weaker brother." However, the weaker brother usuallly turns out, not to be a weaker brother at all, but rather, the willful person in church who does not believe anything should change, or who have his or her own opinions about how church should be.
Every church has this willful brother or sister, but most churches do not reduce their services or ministry to this person's ideals - to this lowest common denominator. Most pastors are diplomatic and deal with these people so they feel heard, welcomed and happy, but they do not always get their way.
For example, many churches with a new youth program have members who will complain that the youth ought not to be doing such things or whatever. We as pastors need to be diplomatic with our people and let them know that this is the vision of our church and the youth will truly benefit from this ministry.
Hopefully these "willful ones" will trust their pastor enough to stay.
In First Nations churches we must be diplomatic as well.
One Sunday night I had a member of our church approach me. This person was worried that non-Native visitors would come into our church and be offended by some of the traditional Native ceremonies we present. I explained to this beloved church member that we will not abstain from these ceremonies simply because we are afraid someone will be offended.
If anyone is offended they are welcome to talk to me or Randy about anything, and we welcome the conversation.
However, I will not abstain because from our ceremonies because they are important to our people. Lots of non-Native people relate and appreciate these ceremonies as well. It takes them out of the norm and helps them approach God in a new way.
Also, I am more interested in that ONE Native person who is visiting our church - who has not darkened the doorway of a church since childhood - who will see, smell and hear indigenous sounds and instantly feel welcomed. They will think, I've never been to a church like this before, where a Native person can be a Native person.
That is the reason we are here! For our First Nations people. Everyone is welcome of course - if you can put up with a sometimes smoky atmosphere. Some non-Native brothers and sisters actuallly come out because of the smoke! (It's only sage, nothing illegal : )
This is fulfilling a beautiful theme in scripture, because Jesus came to us enveloped in human flesh, we can go to our brothers and sisters enveloped in the overwhelming love of God for them, and they can see themselves as they truly are, loved and accepted by God.
September 21, 2006
FIRST NATIONS MINISTRY
Something just occured to me which could be useful to those considering First Nations ministry.
I will tell it in the form of a story.
A friend up north called me one day and asked, "How do I as a white lady, minister to First Nations people?" She had such a heart for our people and I knew God was calling her. So I instructed her to go to the nearest village, meet with the Chief, gift him, and ask how she could pray for that village. This takes courage and humility. The gifting is important, it is proper protocol - even Jesus followed the protocol of His day. We've got to recognize and honor that First Nations have vastly different cultures than Canadian and American.
I spoke with this dear lady a year later. She informed me that she had visited and gifted twelve Chiefs on twelve villages! I was thrilled!! God gave her grace and favor and opened many doors for her to minister.
If you are not Native (or even if you are!) and have a heart for our people then...
Go ye likewise and do the same : )
September 16, 2006
My dear friend Pastor Christina Dawson sent this to me and I was so happy. She is a great friend of mine, always keeping me laughing and such an Indian - I really love her. She has given me such wisdom and has loved me no matter what. Her husband , Virgil Dawson, is also the coolest Indian I know. His artwork is on my CD, the cd itself in fact. He has many other pieces of artwork as well.
Christina is currently church planting in Nanaimo, BC, Canada, planting a First Nations church and working with Maranatha! Church, Pastor Barry and Linnea Hanson. She wrote some sweet words about me that really blessed me.
By Christina Dawson:
"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.
This makes me think of Cheryl Bear, the way she taught about becoming an Indian Christian. That we can worship the Lord with the way He created us, with our regalia, with our songs, and with our dances. We were created for His glory for His purpose. The Lord gave us these gifts so that we may honor Him, without Jesus we are nothing. Before I became a Christian I didn’t give a care about making regalia or learning songs or dances, and all of that; in fact I didn’t like being Indian, because Indians were dumb, lazy, ugly, drunks, dirty and good for nothing, but Jesus has changed my life and I am proud of the way he created me, and all the gifts He has given me.
Cheryl Bear has influenced me by being a good teacher, a good support, a good example of how a Christian Indian looks and most of all a good Sister and Friend.
THIS IS AN AWESOME FRAGRANCE ONTO THE LORD."
Here is something else she wrote online that blessed me:
Sept 6, 2006
Some people ask me questions about how the Cheryl Bear CD came together and what made me write these songs. I'll go into some details about the specific songs at a later date, now I'll tell you a story.
The CD came out of Street Church. Two simple words which are full of meaning to me; characters, stories, places and events that have forever changed me. I received much healing while trying to be a healer in that place ... a wounded healer as Nouwen might say.
We pastored Street Church on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, BC for many years. DE is known as the poorest neighbourhood in all of Canada. We went there with our babies, our youngest was not even a year old at the time.
It is still there, Papa Joe McGillis is the Pastor now, 604-681-1910, at 175 East Hastings Street.
God had called us there. He spoke very clearly to Randy and I.
I remember thinking that we could maybe make a difference in the lives of the people there. However, God chose to have their lives be life and breath and healing to me. God healed me so much in that unique place.
I'm going to write here about my friend Chuck.
In the beginning, everything was new on this street. New e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I know how to handle a drunk, I witnessed enough in my youth, but this was ridiculous, the street was seething with them. It was an adjustment for me but I knew we were meant to be there.
Every night, I tried to shake hands with everyone and welcome them to church.
I came across a man near the back of the church who dressed pretty shaby. His clothes were dirty and stained and he smelled of urine. I winced and meant to shake hands then keep on walking to greet others because the smell was overpowering.
Then suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit stop me and I felt this ... "who do you think you are?"
I was stricken, first at my own self-centeredness and lack of compassion, then because I knew I was to sit right beside him and drink in the smell of him. This was a hard one.
As I sat down I was truly overwhelmed ... with the great love of God for this man. This happened to me only by the beauty and grace of God. I'm so grateful that God opened this door and that I was able to stumble through.
I found out his name was Chuck and I listened as his cracked and smoky voice told his story. He'd lived on this street for over thirty years.
He became a regular at Street Church. Whenever we saw him come up the stairs, which were difficult for him, we'd run over and make him comfortable and serve him a hot dog and coffee. Many of us were able to pray with him, he readily accepted and welcomed prayer and even prayed along with us.
He became Uncle Chuck
One night he did something unusual. With great pains he made his way up to the front of the church during an prayer time. He started crying out in a long and loud voice with a strong Native accent, "Jesus! ... Jesus! ... Jesus!"
... no dry eyes.
We found out the next day
... Uncle Chuck had died that very night he had cried out to Jesus.
I tell ya, God did a number on me with that guy. I don't recall those moments without an ache in my heart and swelling gratitude that God allowed me, such a bumbler, to have met such a man like Chuck.