This is my first week in the Pas; on Tuesday I could hardly believe what I was doing in driving myself up to live somewhere I had never been to before with people I did not know and not really knowing all that specifically what I would be doing. This week has consisted of orientation to a new area and a different culture.
During this week I attended a lecture series by Bill Jackson from Thursday night to Sunday morning on the topic of native spirituality and attended the Wednesday night Bible study here at the Riverside Bible Church. I have been blessed to get to know many of the people that live here. Many people came out and I was able to meet some folks from Cormorant, the town I will be visiting during summer, and the regulars of the church.
I was bit by a dog on Thursday when we were doing door to door invitations to the Bill Jackson meetings in our neighborhood. One lady from the church commented to me about the spiritual battle that we are in and I was reminded to “put on the full armor of God”. Taking ground from the enemy will always result in kick back.
I have learned about the importance of building trust and building relationships. It can take a long time to build trust in a reserve. It can take years of community presence to build that trust. The Anderson’s have been serving here since the 1980’s and they have the trust of the people. Relational influence is closely linked to trust. I was able to have some good conversation with a local fellow that has earned the trust of people close to him and how that is lived out in this culture. Integrity is very important, if trust is ever broken it will likely never be recovered in these communities.
Time is required for trust to be built and most people here are not overly friendly or talkative as we would consider in a western culture. However, as Bill Jackson and Amanda have both said “the gospel transcends cultures”. Knowing the people is important but you can always share the gospel and it still is effective. This is good encouragement for me.
I have also learned some about the spiritual realm here. Many houses on Opaskwayak Cree Nation have eagles painted on the outside of their houses. The eagle is a sign of good fortune in this culture.
Next week we are going to the NCEM Central field conference in Lumsden, SK and preparing for Steeprock Bay Bible Camp registration. Pray for open doors in Cormorant and continued building relationships with those in the church and community.