The Petersens… IN His Harvest
Dear Family & Friends,
The Navajo Nation stretches over 350 miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. By land area, it would be the sixth largest state in the USA. As a sovereign nation, the Navajo have their own executive, legislative and judicial branches just like the federal government. They have their own police force and elections. During the late 1800s and into the 1900s there was a thrust of missionary work among the Navajo and many churches were planted. Godly Native pastors were trained and the indigenous ministry of the churches grew. Today however, the younger generation is struggling and many rural churches have an aging congregation with few, if any youth attending. There is a need for discipleship and training to build up the youth spiritually and to enable them to see first hand how God can use them in outreach and ministry to their own people.
This summer, Gay and I led a special team of former team members (FTMs) to Window Rock, AZ (capital of the Navajo Nation) and ran our first ever Native American Boot Camp hosted by Western Indian Ministries. We drove our bus almost 2,000 miles across the USA (one way) and can’t praise the Lord enough for the generous help we received with food and lodging from the Beilers (Alabama), Shorts (Louisiana), Halversons (Texas) and Grandma Betty (North Texas). THANK YOU!
Two of our Florida Bible school students, Tim Gon and Jeremiah Yonnie (both Navajo) helped with setup/recruitment; and with help from an adult work team last spring (thanks Redeemer gang!) we were able to have the Obstacle Course and other camp and training locations ready for arrival day. We received nine Native American team members and one additional leader. We trained together the first week and enjoyed powerful rally messages from local pastors and leaders.
Ministry Highlights of the first Native American Boot Camp held at Western Indian Ministries:
•Attended the Navajo National Day of Prayer. The team helped with setup/take down, shared a presentation with area pastors and met Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye and Jonathan Nez, (both born-again believers).
•Completed and ‘conquered’ our brand new mountain Obstacle Course
•Restored and set up a volleyball court at WIM
•Hauled nearly 100 30-lb cinder blocks up a steep mountain slope to prepare for a new transmission building at the base of the WIM radio tower
•Repaired a steep tower-access road, moving and making gravel by hand
•Shared the Gospel using music, drama, puppets and one-on-one sharing at four JMI (Just Move It) 5k races. Hundreds heard the Gospel and several accepted Christ!
•Installed sheet rock for a church extension
•Framed interior walls on a new house for a single dad who works full time while raising six daughters
•Sealed a leaking roof for an 80-year-old widower who’s hosting his son and six grandkids while their house is being built
•Performed fence repairs and yard cleanup for a widow raising nine grandchildren
•Ran a one-week VBS (vacation Bible school) in Red Valley for 30+ children
•Performed cleanup and landscaping on the church grounds and installed a bathroom shower
•Participated in a live radio interview that was broadcast across the Navajo Nation
•Shared presentations in five local churches, four JMI (Just Move It) 5k races, a one week VBS and at a WIM staff retreat
Here are some quotes from our Pioneer team members:
Nate N. — We go all over the Navajo Nation, going to churches and repairing homes. We have been learning Romans 1:16 … “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” While we were in Red Valley, we were doing VBS with about 30-35 kids. We shared the Word of God with puppets, storytelling and drama. The kids really enjoyed it. They were amazed at what God had done. We shared laughs with them also as we played games together. Some of them enjoyed participating in acting out the Bible stories. On the last day of VBS it was heartbreaking to say goodbye because some of the kids didn’t want us to go. They really want us to come back next year. We handed out school supplies at the end of the week.
Miranda M. — A lot has happened here since my first day of Boot Camp. We’re functioning like a family and I love them all. When I think about leaving them at the end of the summer I feel as if I’ll be alone again. One thing I need to keep in mind though is that I’ll have a close relationship with Jesus. Psalm 121… “I lift up my eyes toward the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” There is such beauty in the world that God has made. Just thinking that the Creator wants a close relationship with me brings me such joy! I’ll never be alone as long as I have God on my side. Having a conversation with Him every day is as simple as talking to a close friend. I used to have a lot of questions…. “Why have you placed me here when I just seem to be a waste of space?” Having all these people here has encouraged me and I feel God’s love and joy!
Abby H. — This trip was amazing! God has taught me so much on this trip and has shown me many things in my life that I need to change. The teens on this team have become so close together. It’s like we’re a family. Yesterday we evangelized at Klagetoh at the 5k run. My friend, Daniel and I had the opportunity to do chair exercises with the elderly so they were doing something active. I was glad to talk with the elders and share the Gospel with them. It’s crazy that there are so many different ways to serve the Lord, even if it’s just exercising. The Lord has taught me a lot through going out and sharing the Gospel. Mostly it’s not about me, it’s about Him. It’s Him using me to share His love. I am very blessed to be with this team. It’s been great to be with other Native Americans that love God just like I do. My time here has been amazing and I have fallen in love with the Navajo Nation and will miss fellowshipping with them and just sharing stories and laughing. This experience will stick with me for the rest of my life. It impacted my life beyond words. I’d like to say ’thank you’ very much to my supporters and the people praying for me.
Daniel R. — I have worked on two different jobs: one was putting in installation and the other was setting a foundation for a storage shed. Putting up the walls for the shed was also fun. I am still glad that I came to this Boot Camp because it is helping me with my walk with the Lord. It is good to spread His Good News. I would like to say thank you to everyone who is praying for me and supporting me. You are in my prayers. Praise the Lord!
We are now back home in Florida where I continue involvement in the IT, Promotions and Media Departments. I am also teaching Minor Prophets in the Bible School this term. Gay is serving in the Personnel Departments, Retreat Center Kitchen and has worked hard to setup ‘Petersen Academy’ for this coming homeschool year. Faith is in 6th grade and Timothy has begun High School. (Yikes…where did the time go?)
•For the native youth who were saved and rededicated their lives to the Lord at Boot Camp
•For the awesome mountain top training location, support and encouragement made available by the awesome staff of Western Indian Ministries.
•For the right hand of fellowship extended by so many of the Native American pastors and leaders.
•For the wonderful provision for all of Timothy’s support for Nepal. Also for the great summer of service and learning he had…for safety and good health. Faith also was an active part of our team and was a great example and a good friend to many.
•That our former team members and leaders will remain strong and continue growing in Christ now that they are back home
•That God will raise up mature, godly leaders for next summer’s teams.
•For wisdom as we plan and prepare for next summer
•For an effective, God-centered family routine as a family now that we are back home.
•For Gay (and the kids) as she homeschools them
Thank you for joining together with us in this work. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Together in His Harvest,
Steve, Gay, Timothy & Faith Petersen
Is 6:8 / Heb. 11:1 / Romans 1:16 / Gal. 2:20