Pastor’s viewpoint: Feb. 10, 2018
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous territory covering 27,425 miles and reaching into most of northern Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Utah. The Reservation is defined by four sacred mountains: Blanca Peak, the sacred mountain of the east associated with the color white; Mount Taylor, the sacred mountain of the south associated with the color blue; San Francisco Peak, the sacred mountain of the west associated with the color yellow; Hesperus Mountain, the sacred mountain of the north associated with the color black. Four sacred mountains, four sacred directions, and four sacred colors, and all of this lies on the Colorado Plateau going back 1.8 billion years. The geology is fascinating and it changes around every curve and over every hill!
For the past 11 years we’ve traveled, several times a year, to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. We’ve preached revivals and led Vacation Bible Schools and built and remodeled houses and fellowship halls … and more. I read an article warning short-term mission teams about too often going to do what they wanted to do instead of going to do what the churches and/or pastors needed and wanted them to do. So, we always ask, “What do you need?” or “How can we help?”
“After this (when you read “after this,” you ought to ask “after what?”), the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” (Luke 10:1-9)
In chapter nine, Jesus sends out the 12 and “after this” he sends out the 72 … two by two! Then, in the second line, we discover his secret; he’s sending them into the areas where he’ll be visiting behind them. They’re going to be his advance team; they’ll preach and teach the people about Jesus.
We travel 2,000 miles to the Navajo reservation for two reasons; we believe Jesus is already at work there and we want to help him; and we believe Jesus is coming to the reservation and we want to be there working when he comes!
Charles “Buddy” Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland & Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, is a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.