Christian Ministry Trip: “People Over Projects”
Submitted by Alyssa Kiefer in RCS Highlights on April 24, 2019
Early in its preparation for this year’s mission trip to the Navajo Nation, the RCHS Christian Ministry team coined the motto, “people over projects.” Yes, the team was in for 10 days of back-to-back projects as it served in Tse Benito, New Mexico, but the purpose of the trip was to spread the love and hope in Jesus to the people with whom the team members interacted.
On April 4, 2019, the 28-student team plus five chaperones began their trip to New Mexico. They flew to Phoenix, Arizona, then drove five hours to Albuquerque, New Mexico. They settled at the Across Nations mission site where the boys stayed in a large room in the preschool building and the girls stayed in the dorms on campus. There was a kitchen to prepare meals and occasionally showers were taken in the shower house.
The day they arrived, the team went straight to work laying a foundation for a house so that framers could come in the next day to frame it. The house was for a pastor whose prior home was dilapidated. Throughout the week, several more construction projects were completed including building a dog and wheelchair ramp for a elderly man in a wheelchair and his elderly dog who could not climb stairs anymore. The team also helped with various projects around the mission, which is laid about red rock, dry grass, and mountains. Team members helped to build or repair homes and sheds for people who live there and to share the gospel at the nearby Navajo Reservation. The mission is hoping to continue to expand and it has great hope about the impact it will continue to make in the area.
Every day a group of students went to Hilltop Christian Elementary school to volunteer by helping teachers, interacting with kids, cleaning, or performing whatever other tasks were needed that day. The highlight, by far, was the Field Day the team put on for the school on Tuesday. Brandon led the team to set up rotations and games for the kids. They were able to give the Hilltop teachers a break and give the elementary kids a chance to have fun. The best part? “The activities gave us a chance to be good role models and get to know the kids. And there were Otter Pops at the end,” says Brandon. On Wednesday, the team also led chapel at Hilltop. They sang “Jesus Loves Me” in Navajo and performed a Job skit.
Returning seniors JD, Maddie, Julia, Emma, Lita, Joe, Issac, Jackson, and Brandon got the special honor of attending the President’s Prayer Breakfast on Monday. Community leaders, business owners, pastors come annually to the breakfast. The President and Vice President of the Navajo rent out a Navajo restaurant at the hotel and invite all to eat and share prayer requests. They also give announcements about what’s going on in the reservation and lead a prayer time for all to pray for and with each other. It was an honor for our team to be able to attend and participate.
Another highlight was being featured on the local radio station. Joel and Gabby gave their personal testimonies on radio. In addition, JD, Maddie, and Deanna sang a few songs. Finally, Mr. Hinton talked about RCS partnership with Across Nations for the past seven years.
Traditionally, athletics plays into the missions trip as well, and this year it was both the girls volleyball players and boys baseball players that made an impact with several high school students at Window Rock High School. Six of our girls went to an open gym at the high school two days in a row to play with 15 of the WRHS players. On the second day, seven of the high school players joined the team for dinner. Additionally, baseball players on the mission team went to two WRHS baseball practices. One of the players came to dinner with the team afterwards at Chuck and Cindy Harper’s house (leaders of Across Nations ministry). They all enjoyed Navajo tacos and were ultimately blessed by the testimonies of one of the pastors who also came to dinner. Pastor Seth is a Navajo man with a powerful testimony, and all agreed that hearing the testimony from a native man was extremely impactful, especially for this high school baseball player.
The Navajo Nation is a place of great poverty and darkness. Many people, especially men, replace the hopelessness they feel with substance abuse, depression, even suicide. The work of Western Indian Ministries, Across Nations, Hilltop and Rehoboth Christian Schools, and the teams such as the RCHS Christian Ministry Team who dedicate their time, resources, and willingness to share the hope of Jesus shed light and give hope to people in desperate need of it.
The last day of the trip, the missions team took turns saying goodbye to the elementary children that they were able to work so closely with. Then, the team went to the peak of a mountain where there was a view over the entire Navajo and prayed over the people. Team members prayed for the nation, the Harpers who faithfully lead and those who visit to continue to share the gospel, and for families – especially families with kids. They prayed for kids, that their innocence will not be tainted by their environment and that they will keep their youthful joy, and that the hope of the gospel would continue to grow in their community.
The team would like to thank you for your support and prayers and ask that you lift up the Navajo Nation in your continued prayers. Thank you!