At times, the ministry of Pastor Darwin Tsosie and his wife, Ann, on the Navajo reservation looks like ministry in any church. At other times, it appears unique.
Ministry opportunities at Red Rock Wesleyan Church occur due to the poverty of many, each a light shining God’s love and story of redemption in the desert high plains of Arizona. Some of the more familiar discipleship ministries include children’s Sunday school taught by Ann and in the recent past, by Esther, a relatively new convert. As part of their Navajo culture, the children enjoy incorporating artwork as part of the lesson. Summer vacation Bible school, administered by mission teams, delights the children and heightens their awareness of Jesus’ love and sacrifice. One team provided resources to buy craft supplies. These VBS team visits are an amazing blessing to the children of the Red Rock community, to their parents, and to Pastor Darwin and Ann.
Sewing fellowship takes place during the week when the weather is dry and roads passable. Ann leads a Bible study and disciples the group before sewing begins.
The congregation is discipled through Pastor Darwin’s Sunday sermons, which he preaches in Navajo, a very descriptive and sometimes amusing language. The congregation soaks in the messages in their own language (including Navajo Bibles) and sings hymns in their native tongue.
One of the tools Pastor Darwin uses to reach people is revival services, which run three nights in a row with a shared meal after the service. In September 2016, over 70 people attended the last service. Five people placed their faith in Jesus! At the November 2017 revival, nearly 30 people attended services each night, with many praying at the altar. A Thanksgiving dinner followed one service. Navajo people of all ages come to the revival services to have community and fellowship, and to be encouraged by God’s Word. A Wednesday Bible study is being planned for the congregation for discipleship purposes.
At times, the ministry responds to people’s hardships in a way that exemplifies the extreme love and sacrifice of Christ. Pastor Darwin and his congregation invited a woman and her three small sons to live in one section of the fellowship building for a year. Her hogan (a Navajo dwelling) was uninhabitable, and she had no means to repair it. People often come to the Tsosies’ home, especially during harsh winters, looking for a place of shelter from the cold. Other times, they come for prayer and anointing. Still others come for money, and in all these cases, Pastor Darwin demonstrates God’s love and acts on the strong, cultural ethic of sharing.
“Through both the deeply discouraging and utterly satisfying days of ministry, Pastor Darwin and Ann possess a peace and gentle joy,” said Rev. Larry Salway, director of Wesleyan Native Ministries. “Discipleship occurs while they model the Christian life before their people, teaching them by example and by sharing the words of the Lord. In obedience, they are truly a light shining brightly for the Lord on their own people.”