For these next few days I get to spend some time at the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, preparing for a mission trip a team from our church will be again taking this Summer. I have come to love our work in Cherokee and look forward both to opportunities to go over the mountain to the reservation and to opportunities to share why we do what we do.
Some have wondered: “Why Cherokee?” Perhaps this is part of a bigger question: “Why Native American Mission?” After all, I supposed some assume, it is not like they are a pagan people, unexposed to the gospel.
While it is certainly true that Native Americans have had interaction with Christians for years, I find people are stunned when they hear how few Indians are followers of Jesus Christ. I know I was.
Overall only about 3% of Native Americans profess to believe the gospel. To be considered an Unreached People Group a People must be less than 2.5% evangelized. So it is obvious that despite having the “advantage” of regular interaction with American Christianity, Native Americans almost qualify as an Unreached People. When I think of this, and then consider that, at least in Cherokee, the vast majority of those in church on any given week are very, very old, it will not be long until Native Americans revert back into Unreached Peoples – unless they are reached now.
Perhaps the thing that first struck me, and continues to fuel my commitment to Native American Mission, was an ad I saw several years ago in a Christian magazine. I do not recall what mission agency had placed the ad, perhaps First Tribes, but the caption read:
“Why should America’s First People, be the last to hear?”
I could not give an answer, and the unjust irony struck a chord. So now, I am laboring to be part of the answer.
To give you a good introduction to the work we are doing, and why we are doing it, please watch the video above.