The Lakota and Dakota people remain resistant to the gospel due to historical abuses. He Sapa New Life has made inroads in bridging this gap through contextualization of the gospel message, large outreach events in numerous communities and reservations across western South Dakota, and distribution of weekly DVDs of our worship services into homes where churches and internet are often unavailable. We have served these communities through community meals, distribution of food boxes, winter clothing, blankets, and school supplies and clothing.
The native youth in our communities are at substantial risk of gang participation, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, suicide, and gun activities. He Sapa New Life has established a large community-based youth outreach program this past year to reach these youth by providing alternative positive activities and mentoring. Three of these youth were selected to attend the Christian-based Warrior Leadership Summit in Illinois this past July, which was attended by 700 native youth from across our nation. Each of these were impacted by the gospel message and accepted Christ as their Savior. It is our prayer that more of our youth will have access to this conference this coming summer.
We are grateful for the movement of God that swept across our community this past summer and fall. Seventeen were baptized in September with more on the waiting list! Two entire families were baptized as a public statement of their transformation through Christ and have turned from their former worldly habits. I have mentored the two ladies for the past several years and the gospel seed is now firmly planted and growing within their hearts. Their testimonies are an immense joy and inspiration of God’s transforming power! Their teenage children and one husband have also accepted Christ. We continue to pray for the other husband. An influential community leader has been attending regularly for several months, experienced his first exposure to the gospel message, and has responded very positively to Christ.
The native people love to reflect on their blessings during the month of November. This past Sunday, numerous people across our congregation at He Sapa New Life spoke up publicly to express their gratitude for their blessings of family, shelter, healing, and God’s provisions. This coming Sunday our church will again give opportunity for them to express their gratitude publicly and then serve a Thanksgiving meal to our community.
Christmas is a particularly opportune time to minister in our native context. The parents and grandparents are very receptive to a community gathering in which the Christmas story and gospel message is told through native eyes, a traditional meal of soup and fry bread is served, and gifting for the children/youth and elders. Many have come to Christ through these events. We are currently preparing for our large community gatherings in December.
Please pray for more receptive hearts to respond to the gospel. We are grateful for your support and prayers as together we reach the unreached for Christ!
Rev. Dale Salway co-pastors He Sapa New Life, a ministry that is based in Rapid City, South Dakota and reaches across western South Dakota to the native people of our region, largely of the Lakota and Dakota tribes.