Spring 2016 - NL Newsletter



SPRING 2016 / Vol. 46, No. 4



Letter From Don 2

A Nehemiah Heart 3

As Surely As The Sun Rises 4

Truth About My Insides 5

Please Pray 6

Welcome Our New CEO 6

Ministry Support & Updates 7



Here is something that will surprise

you: I recently announced to my Board

of Directors my intent, as of the end of

January 2017, to turn the leadership of

Lutheran Indian Ministries over to God’s

next person.

Perhaps they expected as much. After

all, I have been serving as the CEO of this

ministry for a long time and people, of

course, do retire.

They were gracious enough to listen to my

reasons for doing so and immediately did

what Boards often do when faced with the

impending departure of their leader: they

attempted to convince me to stay on as long

as I felt led to do so.

Then, realizing my resolve to only continue

on for one more year, they quickly appointed

a succession committee, developed a

short list of candidates and began the

process of interviews leading to the

selection of my replacement.

I’m pleased to announce that they have

selected Tim Young Eagle, our current

Director of Development, to be the next

CEO of Lutheran Indian Ministries. You

can read more about him in the article

later in this newsletter.

And so what happens next for me? First, I

am planning to do whatever I can to prepare

for the ministry transition to go as smoothly

as possible. I also plan to spend time with

each of my staff. I have enjoyed watching

them complete the education we afforded

them and delighted to see God at work in

their faith and in their witness. They made

my leadership easy, and I grew to love them.

Ok, saying goodbye to them will be difficult.

But, I will of course keep in touch with

them from wherever it is that God leads me

following the end of my leadership of LIM.

Which leads me to my next idea. While

what I am doing looks like retirement, I am

actually looking at the end of my leadership

of LIM as an opportunity for God to use my

acquired knowledge about ministry and

mission for some other purpose which He

has not yet shown me. I will be seeking His

will in determining what that might mean.

I will of course miss my connection with

you, our donors. I have always told people

that one of the greatest joys of this ministry

is meeting people like you. You are special,

and I want to thank you for your prayers,

generosity, and encouragement.

I look forward to these last months as

leader of LIM. Thanks again for your help

in making my time with the ministry so

blessed by God.

Very Cordially,

Rev. Dr. Don Johnson

“That Warrior fought and stood, so we could be here today.

He took a chance on me [and all of us] and that laid the foundation

for what we are doing at Lutheran Indian Ministries

– we’ll take a chance on anyone. We love because

we are loved by our Great Savior, Jesus Christ.”

– Will Main

2 / Lutheran Indian Ministries

Winston Wilson (Cowlitz), Washington-Neah Bay |



In an effort to reanalyze and

refocus my year and our ministry

in Neah Bay, I recently reread

Nehemiah and was struck, once

again, by his heart.

Nehemiah lived a luxurious life. As

the cup-bearer to Artaxerxes, the

King of Persia, he was in a position

of power in the royal court and

lacked for nothing. He had never

seen Jerusalem, as he was generations

removed from the Babylonian

Exile, but still felt a strong connection

to his heritage and his ancestors.

When he found out that the

rebuilding of Jerusalem was going

very poorly, Nehemiah says:

“When I heard these things, I sat

down and wept. For some days I

mourned and fasted and prayed

before the God of heaven.”

(Nehemiah 1:4)

Nehemiah had never seen Jerusalem in its

glory days. He didn’t personally know the

people who had returned and were scraping

to make a life in the broken city, but when

he heard of their suffering and difficulties,

he sat down and wept.

This is remarkably similar to what many

Native Americans, and those close to

Native ministry, feel daily. We don’t know

what life was like prior to reservations.

We don’t know what it was like when our

ancestors had solid familial systems and

strong men as leaders within the community.

We’ve heard all the stories and seen

the pictures, but we can never truly know

how it felt to live at that time.

Instead, we know about broken families. We

know about poverty on reservations, addiction,

and a suicide epidemic so large that

communities are in a state of emergency.

This makes me sit down and weep. I don’t

personally know all the people hurting, but

as a member of the Cowlitz tribe, these are

all my people. This is my Nehemiah Problem,

and I long for a time when the nations will be

rebuilt into a thriving and productive people.

In our community, on the Makah Reservation,

we see all of the same problems as the larger

native population. And the base of it all, from

our perspective, stems from two main causes:

the lack of stable families (headed by strong

men) and the lack of Christ.

When I first came to Makah Lutheran, we

wanted to really bolster the community

and church to reach out (and draw in) the

men and the leaders. I remember my wife,

Connie, praying one day and simply calling

out “Send us men!” That was five years ago.

We now have a thriving Men’s Bible Group

that regularly attracts 10-11 men. I strive

to teach and guide these men to be servant

leaders in their homes and in the Makah

community. I want to teach them as Jesus

taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus

after His resurrection, leading them on

a journey through the Bible and showing

them the work of the cross from one end to

the other. And just like those two disciples,

I want these Makah men to see Jesus afresh

and to begin to truly understand what they

are to do next.

We are reaching the Makah people one

family at a time as the men step up and

lead with a Christ-like heart.

All of us involved with Lutheran Indian

Ministries, staff, donors, and volunteers

alike, have the opportunity to serve a

broken culture. We have the incredibly

difficult task of grabbing a group of people

out of a downward spiral that has been

going on for centuries.

Because of the great burden on his heart,

Nehemiah asked Artaxerxes to send him to

Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Not only did

he take a chance by asking the king for a

favor, but he took a chance by leaving his

comfortable place to travel to an unfamiliar

part of the world to work on a nearly

impossible task.

We at Lutheran Indian Ministries must follow

Nehemiah’s lead. We have to ask our King to

help us with this nearly impossible task of

reaching a culture that is in desperate need

of His love. And, even more difficult, we have

to step out of our comfortable place to make

the impact necessary to see real change.

I look to this year as a season of growth and

achieving the impossible through Christ’s

strength, and I look forward to the ministry

work we will do together.

Lutheran Indian Ministries / 3

| Rick McCafferty (Inupiat/Cherokee), Alaska-Anchorage |


We are slowly inching out of the dark winter in Alaska. Living

in Anchorage, we don’t have days without sun, but on our shortest

day in December, we get a paltry 5 ½ hours of sun. Further north, in

Barrow, the northern most city in Alaska, the sun set on November

18th and didn’t rise again for 67 days. It’s dismal and cold.

But Hosea 6:3 reminds us, “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press

on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear.” As

Alaskans, we survive the winters with grit and hope and the knowledge

that spring always comes eventually. Likewise, as Christians, we

survive hard times with the reminder that Christ’s love and light are

constants in our lives, and that out of the darkness comes light and

hope. At Lutheran Indian Ministries, our job is to shine the light of

the Gospel into the darkest places.

Thanks to your faithful gifts to Lutheran Indian Ministries, I

am enrolled in the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology (EIIT)

program of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and gaining a better

understanding of the Word of God through my studies.

Recently, I was involved in a week long ministry project at an Alaskan

correctional facility for women – a group of people that truly need

God’s forgiving light in the darkness of a jail cell. Our team of nine

worked closely with 24 women in the facility spreading the Gospel

while working through their wounds from the past. While each of

the women was different, varying in age and the reason for their

incarceration, their stories were strikingly, and sadly, very similar.

All 24 women came either from a broken home or experienced

some level of domestic violence. Some grew up with mothers who

had been in this very same correctional facility, and one even had a

grandmother who served time there.

But this isn’t out of the ordinary. In a state where Alaska Natives

make up less than 19% of the total population*, they constitute 37%

of the incarcerated population. Beyond that, the statistics show that

50% of those Natives are in prison for registerable sexual offenses or

personal offenses** (which include assault, child abuse and neglect,

and murder), all of which are severe charges. These statistics paint a

picture of Alaska Natives living in a seemingly never-ending world of

darkness caused by sin and separation from God.

Yet in the midst of all the suffering and hurt,

Jesus shines His love. For many of these women, this was

their first experience facing their past wounds, and opening up to a

stranger was incredibly difficult.

to live in darkness. Our ultimate goal is to bring people into a

relationship with Jesus, and by sharing the Gospel, we can begin

the healing process.

I found by better understanding the Word of God through thorough

study, as I have begun to do in the EIIT program, I am much better

able to love as it relates to a person’s individual and present needs.

During this visit, I was better able to help them replace the lies they

learned as a child with the real Truth of who they are in God’s eyes.

The truth that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

and that God does not hold their past against them. They are worthy

as individuals, and they have a place in God’s Kingdom.

In a state where Alaska Natives make up

less than 19% of the total population*



of those


of the incarcerated

population are Native


registerable offenses

The Native community needs to begin the process of healing and

to end domestic violence, child abuse, and suicide in Alaska with

the help of Christian counselors and ministers, in the light of God’s

grace. It is our responsibility to do this for the next generation.

The truth is, this job is too big for us, but it’s not too big for God.

Like with anything, it will be a slow process, but the 24 women at

the correctional facility embody the hope of Alaska. Their lives are

moving out of the darkness of sin and trauma and with each day will

experience more of Jesus’ light.

Light and hope always win. Remember those 67 days of darkness in

Barrow? In the summer, they will have 82 days of light. Light always

overcomes the darkness, and in that we can have eternal hope. That

is truly a reason to celebrate!

*2015 Alaska Population. State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce

Development. http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/cen/dp.cfm

**2014 Alaska Offender Profile. Alaska Department of Corrections. http://


Without dealing with the underlying problems – the wounds of

the heart and the historical trauma – the circle of abuse, addiction,

and suicide cannot end, and a nation of people will continue

4 / Lutheran Indian Ministries

| Deon Prue, Oneida, Wisconsin |



Raising children is not an easy task - it

is not a job for the weak-hearted.

Parenting is hard, and it is discouraging.

Especially at this moment in time with so

many details of our lives being shared on

social media, we as mothers are always

comparing ourselves to other women.

That is what we do as women. We’ve always

done it. The women that came before us

did it, but instead of looking at photos on

Instagram, they compared clothes at church

and read about other women in magazines.

And we always seem to come up short.

So now, we only post the best pictures of

ourselves, our kids, husband, and family.

I don’t want people to think I’m perfect –

that leaves no room for Jesus. I’m flawed.

My family is flawed.

In the past few months, this really started

to bother me – I want my insides to match

my outsides. I did not want to make other

women feel less than me.

This past summer, I was at the park with

my two young boys and began talking to

another mother as she watched her son

play. It was the usual small talk: How old

are your kids? What do you do for a living?

What does your husband do?

I answered her questions the way I usually

do, but I felt like I was painting this untrue

picture of my family. Suddenly, I blurted out:

“Listen, I just want you to know that I am

a recovering alcoholic and meth addict. I

was married previously and divorced. I had

two kids with my ex-husband, and I’m only

allowed to see them in the summer and

at Christmas because of my selfish ways.

I became a meth addict with my current

husband. We went to jail, robbed a drug

dealer, and now have two children together.

We are in ministry, but I feel sad and worried

when good things happen to us. I snap at my

kids and husband regularly, and I have rage

right beneath the surface… Anyway, I wanted

to let you know this.”

The poor women looked at me like a deer in

headlights, and I worried that she was going

to grab her child and run away screaming.

Instead, tears began to stream down her

cheeks, and she opened up to me about

her struggles. That crazy moment at the

park with a stranger made me think: I must

not be the only one that thinks wifedom,

motherhood and sober life are really hard.

I had been struggling to figure out where

I fit into Lutheran Indian Ministries. I was

used to working, but now, I feel blessed to

be able to stay home with our children. My

day consists of changing diapers, cleaning

house, washing laundry, cooking, and acting

as my husband’s secretary. For a long time, I

felt in my heart that God had so much more

for me. That moment of incredible honesty

in the park, and the connection that came

from it, made me realize I was missing my

calling. It was right in front of me the entire

time. I am exactly where God wants me to

be, doing exactly what He wants me to do

to impact His Kingdom.

I am done hiding my flaws.

My new ministry is to tell people the truth

about my insides. No more mask, no more

hiding, and no more pretending. I shed all

of my false perceptions of what I thought I

should be, and I embraced the way that God

sees me.

I was under the impression that since my

husband and I were in ministry, we would

become like the people we had witnessed in


selfless. I would

be the calm preacher’s wife: gentle and

soft-spoken, children sitting nicely in a pew

with their heads bowed quietly in prayer.

But this is unrealistic and overwhelmingly

stressful! With this vision of perfection, I

was never going to be able to minister to

anyone – including myself.

Instead, the moment I confessed the truth

about myself and my struggles as a wife and

mother, God opened up a huge door. I took

a deep breath and stepped through.

My husband, Bob, and I do Native Ministry,

but I’m not Native. It has been a challenge

for me to find my place among the Native

community. I have found with my newfound

freedom of sharing my brokenness, either

the other person will appreciate my candor

and want to tell their story or they will walk

away. I’m learning to be okay with the second

group and have come to understand that

they weren’t ready for me and my story. The

last thing I want to do is push them further

from the Love of God. But most of the time,

other mothers are willing to open up to me.

Through this transition into my “new self,”

I also realized that my children are a good

way to connect with other mothers going

through similar struggles. God gave us this

blessed gift of raising children, but He knew

it would not be an easy task and that we

would need other women to help carry our

burdens and our triumphs.

1 Timothy says,” Women will be

saved through childbearing – if

they continue in faith, love, and

holiness with propriety.”

(1 Timothy 2:15)

| cont. on p. 6

Lutheran Indian Ministries / 5



Tom & Cathy Benzler, Hope House: We pray

for healing and good health. Please continue

to grow their reach and contacts within the

Olympic Peninsula and help the younger

generation to see hope in Jesus Christ.

LIGHT House, Lawrence Kansas: Please grant

protection over our students this summer

as they travel back home. Help them to find

strong Christian mentors within their own

communities, and help them to grow in

confidence in their faith.

Dave & Rosemary Sternbeck, Fairbanks,

Alaska: We pray for a blessed and fruitful

volunteer season. Please continue to send

worthy Christian servants who want to create

relationships within rural villages. Thank

you for the natives coming to Teen Camp this

summer and we pray they would have eyes to

see and ears to hear God’s Word and hearts

that are open and tender to the Gospel.

Bob & Deon Prue: Please continue to

strengthen them in their ministry as they

serve God’s calling for them among native

communities. Keep them righteous and

steadfast in your Word as they lead both in the

church and in their home.

Tim & Heidi Norton, Navajo, NM: Please

continue to bless Tim and Heidi as they work

to become a part of the Navajo community and

to build a loving and trusting relationship with

the Navajo people. Thank you for the baptisms

that Tim has performed and those that are

coming up. Help these baptisms to bring Christ

into more Navajo homes, particularly those

most in need of His saving grace.

Clarence DeLude, Oahu, HI: We pray blessings

over Clarence and the work he is doing in

Hawaii. Help him to reach those in need,

particularly the children who come to VBS and

their families. Help the church to be a warm

and welcoming place to them, so they can see

that following Jesus does not have to conflict

with who they are as Native Hawaiians.

New CEO at LIM

By unanimous decision, the Board of

Directors is pleased to announce that

Tim Young Eagle, CFRE will become

the Chief Executive Officer of Lutheran

Indian Ministries effective upon Don

Johnson’s retirement.

Tim has extensive experience in leadership,

ministry and fundraising and has previously

served in leadership positions at ministries,

such as: the Lutheran High School

Association of Greater Milwaukee and

Bethesda Lutheran Communities. He has

also served on the boards of the Lutheran

Urban Mission Initiative (LUMIN), Lutheran

Indian Ministries (LIM) and the National

Christian Foundation.

“This is an amazing ministry

with unlimited potential,” said

Tim upon hearing of the announcement.

“For more than 20 years, we have been

blessed by the faithful and steady hand of

Don Johnson’s leadership. I look forward to

fulfilling the mission and vision of Lutheran

Indian Ministries in the future. This is very

personal for me. I believe that there is no

more important ministry opportunity in

God’s mission field. It is my experience that

in the places where LIM has deployed ministry

staff, we are effective, by the power of

We as broken women can

only raise godly children

once we admit to our own

brokenness and need for a

Savior. So that is what I do, I

walk alongside other broken

women. We draw wisdom

from one another and from

God, to raise the next generation

of godly, but broken,

children, who understand

that their healing and

strength comes only from

the Lord, and the only way

to truly live is to be open

with one another.

Now, I finally understand

where I fit into Lutheran

Indian Ministries. I play an

important role in raising

godly Native American

children, who will one day

grow into leaders that will

minister to their people.

the Holy Spirit, in sharing the light of God’s

love and His message of salvation, as well

as bringing about life changing restoration

and reconciliation to Him with Native

American peoples. I am convinced that we

can do more and need to do more, and, by

the grace of God and with the help of our

faithful donors and prayer warriors, we will

do more!”

Tim is an American Indian of Pawnee

descent whose father grew up on the

Pawnee reservation in Oklahoma.

With this announcement, we look forward

to the future of Lutheran Indian Ministries

as Tim leads us to the next phase of our

ministry, building on the foundation that Don

has built, and we thank Don for his years of

service and making LIM what it is today.


| cont. from p. 5

I have the opportunity to walk

alongside other mothers,

sharing Jesus – the One who

can make the greatest impact

on their lives – with them,

their young children, and the

next generation.

Godly Christian women will

raise the next generation,

and I’m excited to be a part

of that crowd.

6 / Lutheran Indian Ministries





Your support, however large or small,

is a blessing to us and to the many




We are finally moving in! It’s been

a long, hard road, but when school

starts again in the fall we will have

the LIGHT House waiting for them!

We love the dancing silhouettes

painted on the walls (you can see

them in the picture).


We will be hosting more than 20

Alaska Native teens at Camp Bingle

this summer. This is the biggest group we’ve ever had and are looking forward to “Fanning

the Flame” of our faith. We’ve also “promoted” two of our previous attendees to Junior

Counselors to help further enourage them to be faith leaders within their own communities.

Native communities we serve.

Make a gift online today at



The blessing of gift planning

through bequests, stocks, and

annuities ensure that this

ministry to Native Americans can

continue well into the future.

Take the time to learn your

options and speak with your

financial advisor.

Feel free to call


with any questions!

HAWAII: Clarence, along with Trinity Lutheran in Wahiawa, Hawaii will be doing a fiveweek

long prayer walk in the community surrounding the church. We hope to reach out to

our neighbors and invite them and their families into our family!

NEAH BAY, MAKAH LUTHERAN CHURCH: Winston and Connie are reaching

more of the Makah community. Winston leads a Sunday morning Men’s Bible Study and is

currently mentoring 3 Makah men in their faith life. Connie is leading a Women’s Bible Study

and recently had 5 new women, not members of the church, show up to a meeting.

ONEIDA, WISCONSIN: Bob Prue is planning two separate church trips to South

Dakota this summer to the Cheyenne River Reservation. Deon has just started a Mom’s Bible

Study and had a great turn-out!

NAVAJO, NM: Tim baptized a brother and sister pair on Easter Sunday and is in the

process of baptizing a family of five in the upcoming month.

Lutheran Indian Ministries / 7

Still available –

Broken Parts Missing Pieces

written by Rev. Dr. Don Johnson.

Copies are available for purchase ($10.00)

through the Lutheran Indian Ministries

office. Please call 888-783-5267 or email


for your copy.


Lutheran Indian Ministries shares the

Gospel of Jesus Christ with Native American Nations.


To keep current with the work of our

various ministry sites, visit us online!


Lutheran Indian Ministries

3525 North 124th Street, Suite 1

Brookfield, Wisconsin 53005

T: 888.783.5267 – F: 262.783.5290