This week our church ministered alongside First Nations musician and evangelist Cheryl Bear and her family, and I watched God answer our prayers that through their ministry and presence the Kingdom of God would become a little more visible in the Cowichan Valley. The fulfilment of that prayer was especially obvious Wednesday evening on the Native reservation. Food. Music. Games. Friendship. Laughter.
All night, the gospel was spoken, sung, lived out, and set in motion.
Cheryl and Randy Barnetson (Bear is Cheryl’s clan and stage name) and their sons Paul, Randall and Justice, are prophets to the church and priests to the Nations. As prophets, they speak God’s blunt truth. As priests, they disclose God’s tender heart. Cheryl and Randy shared on Tuesday night, at our church, that many of our assumptions about Indigenous people are completely erroneous and have contributed to our impotence in reaching them. Then Cheryl spoke on Wednesday night, on the rez, about Jesus’ deep deep love for all people and his power to save and to heal. Afterward, men and women and children crowded around her and Randy and the boys to meet them and hear more.
Cheryl said something that simultaneously encouraged me and devastated me: that in the over 400 First Nations communities they have visited in the past 3 years, only in the Cowichan Valley has she seen the church present on the reservation. I am thankful that we have walked through this door. But I am heartbroken that so few others even attempted it.
But it took us this long to get this far, and we have a considerable distance to go yet. I pray all of us grow in our understanding that the gospel is for all people – every tribe and tongue and nation, as the Bible frequently puts it. And that we are sent with good news, not merely asked to caretake it. God has made us ambassadors, not custodians, of the gospel. God sends us out to “preach good news to all nations.”
None of us are exempt. All of us have a role.
Are you setting the gospel in motion?