On Behalf of the Conquered
By John Ashmen
I just drove away from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and an all-day meeting of 15 influential leaders of the Oglala Lakota Nation. While sitting beside and across from Native Americans including Wilbur Between Lodges, Paul Iron Cloud, Rebecca Chief Eagle, Doyle Pipe On Head, and Duane Shot With Arrow, the ideas flowed and the excitement rose.
Selena Hayle, AGRM’s director of member engagement, and I were there at the invitation of the Tribal Housing Council and native social workers to discuss various ways AGRM might be able to bring help and hope to 40,000 people who are living in what is generally agreed to be the worst poverty in the Western Hemisphere, outside of Haiti. (If you are not familiar with the conditions at Pine Ridge, note the statistics at the bottom of this article.)
Throughout the day, I jotted down some of their quotes. They were heartbreaking and caused me to ponder deeply.
- “The Sioux were really sent to this place to die. Pine Ridge was supposed to be a death camp, but we have survived…if that is what you want to call it.”
- “It’s not just the historic treaties from Washington that have been broken. It still goes on. Help that we were promised to get as recently as last year still has never arrived.”
- “Church youth groups who come here pity our people…for a week. Then they return to their normal suburban lives and forget about us.”
- “You have to understand that we are a conquered people. That is why so many of our men hide in a bottle.”
I wondered what I could say that would show that I understood their situation and could empathize with their pain. But as my friend Leon Blunt Horn explained to me on a prior visit, feeling empathy for the Lakota is a nearly impossible undertaking for an ordinary white man. The Bible alone can best speak into the life of the conquered.
I recently read an insightful article that explains why this is generally the case. I strongly encourage you to not skip this link below, but click it and read why Brian Zahnd says he, as an ordinary white man, has “a problem with the Bible.” I believe Brian’s discernment will help you put your arms around the perspective of the enslaved and persecuted, past and present.
Please go now to “My Problem With The Bible,” by Brian Zahnd.
May the blood rush to your head.
It’s difficult to be in Pine Ridge (S.D.) and White Clay (Neb.) and not get torn up emotionally by the devastation and poverty. Here are some of the statistics:
- Reservation size: 2 million-plus acres (11,000-plus square miles)
- Population: Approximately 40,000
- Number of houses (including trailers): Approximately 4,500
- Median annual income: $3,200
- Unemployment rate: 85% (summer) to 95% (winter)
- People below federal poverty level: 97%
- School dropout rate: 71%
- Teen suicide rate: 150 times the national average
- Homes without electricity: 39%
- Homes infested with black mold: 66%
- Families affected by alcoholism: 80%
- Rate of diabetes: 37%
- Cervical cancer rate: 500% higher than the national average
- Life expectancy: Age 48 for men and 52 for women
- Infant mortality rate: 300% higher than national average
There’s Still Time to Register for the CEO Summit
You don’t want to miss the CEO Summit, September 9–11 at Mount Hermon Conference Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. Executive directors from across North America will gather to reflect on the current condition of rescue mission ministry and to ponder emerging trends and changes in our culture. They’ll also discuss how savvy followers of Jesus can get serious about the issues affecting our ministries.
During the three-day event, participants will dig down into the theological and legal aspects of some major cultural shifts and how they will affect what missions do every day.
AGRM will also release information at this event about two new initiatives, including one that involves citywide prayer initiatives in multiple locations.
Can you really afford to miss this opportunity to meet, fellowship, and brainstorm with your peers and the astute consultants that will be on hand?
Go to the CEO Summit event page for all the details and to register. Time is short, so register today!
Prayer Is Key: Introducing Robert Loggins
You’re hearing a lot these days from AGRM about HUD-driven approaches to housing, gender-neutral accommodations, data collection, best practices, and other matters related to government relations, public image, and operational expertise. It would be easy for someone to surmise that the association’s spiritual agenda has taken a back seat to various aspects of professional practice.
Nothing would be further from the truth.
AGRM’s mission statement includes the phrase: to accelerate quality and effectiveness in member missions. As we strive to live out our purpose, many of the areas where we offer services will focus on professional practice. But make no mistake, the core of AGRM is—and will continue to be—the gospel of Jesus Christ that has the power to change and redirect lives that have gone terribly off course.
Still, the more we work on professional practice, the more we need to be devoted to prayer—for thanksgiving, discernment, protection, resources, and more. To remind us and assist us in this area, we have recently asked Rev. Robert Loggins, Sr., to join the AGRM team as minister-at-large. Many AGRM members met and engaged with Robert at our convention in St. Louis. He spoke briefly in the first general session and was visible at various times throughout the event.
Originally from Winona, Mississippi, Robert received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and his master’s of divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is presently enrolled in the doctor of ministry program at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Robert served as a pastor in several states and most recently was the African-American Strategist for The St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, working in church planting and racial reconciliation. He has also served as professor of New Testament Greek, Baptist History, and Philosophy at Union Theological Seminary.
He presently serves as founder and president/CEO of RF Loggins Ministries and as executive director of Mission Metro St. Louis. Previously, Robert was the prayer and spiritual awakening specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. Additionally, he served as the national prayer coordinator for the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention.
As minister-at-large for AGRM, Robert will focus on five areas:
- Being a pastor-at-a-distance for members who need divine guidance and would like to process heart matters with someone who is both spiritually savvy and “safe.”
- Overseeing a healthy prayer network throughout AGRM, keeping us focused on the purpose and power of prayer, and keeping us informed and encouraged by regularly communicating what God is doing in our association.
- Representing AGRM at various denominational and quasi-denominational meetings, ensuring that the cause of the poor and powerless is a priority “agenda item” in the work of the church in North America.
- Preparing the cities where our annual conventions will be held by connecting with pastors and Christian organizations’ lay leaders, and forming prayer teams to support our events in critical behind-the-scenes efforts.
- Contributing to AGRM publications by writing white papers, articles, and columns on subjects that pertain to matters of the heart.
You’ll see Robert at various AGRM events. In the meantime, you can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call him at (573) 301-7439.