A Skyline Wesleyan Church vehicle previously used for visiting missionaries was donated to Rev. Darwin Tsosie and his wife, Ann, who minister at Red Rock Wesleyan Church near Keams Canyon, Arizona. The 2002 GMC Denali SUV is well suited to the unpaved and rutted roads in the high desert.
Dr. Steve Babby, assistant pastor at Skyline, located in La Mesa, California, drove the SUV to Arizona and gave it to Tsosie, a Wesleyan Native American pastor on the Navajo Nation Reservation. Tsosie has served at Red Rock Wesleyan for 27 years.
“Red Rock Wesleyan Church sits on a high mesa. The Navajos who live in this area are spread out over many miles. There are no paved roads, so that is why a high-clearance vehicle like an SUV is so valuable,” said Babby, who formerly served as Pacific Southwest District superintendent for 39 years.
The Wesleyan Church has had a ministry on the Navajo Nation Reservation since the early 1990s, originally under Wesleyan Native American Ministries. Two churches are located in the center of the reservation: Red Rock Wesleyan (average Sunday attendance is 25) and Dineh Wesleyan Community Church (average Sunday attendance is 39). Pastor Bettie Yazzie, a lay minister, is serving at Dineh since the passing of her husband, Ben, in June 2016, who previously led the church.
Both churches host worship services, Sunday school and Bible study, offering hope and encouragement by the power of the gospel onsite and through extended networks to surrounding Navajos. Their combined ministry spans many miles over rough and unfriendly terrain, in a community with extreme unemployment, drug abuse and alcoholism. The Navajo Reservation has also been hit hard with COVID-19.
Churches are not meeting in person and Tsosie engages in ministry via phone (calls and texts) and visits people at home — when it is safe to do so.
The Tsosies and Yazzie persevere.
“Out here in the boonies, we don’t have running water,” said Tsosie. “We have electricity, but we don’t have paved roads. It helps when [Pastor Babby] comes. It uplifts me, encourages me, to know they are praying for me.
“Also, the vehicle he gave us — I’m very thankful for it. Out here, I can use the car to visit people and go to their houses and do my ministry. The car is a big blessing, and I thank the Lord for appointing me to get that vehicle.”
Tsosie appreciates the prayers and encouragement of others in his everyday ministry.
“I thank the Lord for people like Steve Babby who come by — I am thankful for every one of them who helps me out,” said Tsosie. “They encourage me and my wife and my family. Keep us in your prayers out here on the reservation. We will do whatever we need to do to minister to people out here and get them the Word of God.”
“Our pastors are bringing the light of Jesus Christ to their people,” said Babby. “The churches provide an annual vacation Bible school often staffed by individuals from throughout The Wesleyan Church. The weekly ministries are fairly standard with Sunday worship and Sunday school (followed by lunch) and a prayer meeting during the week. There are several home Bible study groups. Navajos are hearing about the hope of Jesus Christ even in the midst of everyday hardships and trials.”
In addition to gifting the SUV, Skyline’s pastoral staff and global outreach team collected a variety of food — completely filling up the rear of the car — for their Navajo friends. The food was divided equally between the Tsosies and Yazzie to distribute.
Pictured, left to right: Darwin and Ann Tsosie and Steve Babby.