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
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.
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 |
A NEHEMIAH HEART
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 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
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 |
AS SURELY AS THE SUN RISES
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 the incarcerated
population are Native
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
**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 |
TRUTH ABOUT MY
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
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
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
“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
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.
TRUTH ABOUT MY INSIDES
| 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
Godly Christian women will
raise the next generation,
and I’m excited to be a part
of that crowd.
6 / Lutheran Indian Ministries
SUSTAIN OUR MINISTRIES
Your support, however large or small,
is a blessing to us and to the many
HASKELL LIGHT HOUSE:
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
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.
CONNECT WITH US ONLINE
To keep current with the work of our
various ministry sites, visit us online!
CONTACT US BY MAIL OR PHONE
Lutheran Indian Ministries
3525 North 124th Street, Suite 1
Brookfield, Wisconsin 53005
T: 888.783.5267 – F: 262.783.5290