Grand Portage 2019

From June 12-17, Central sent a team of 11 (Steve Nuessle, Tim and Sandi Horn, Gary and Becky Seaberg, Chuck and Hsarpaw Hernandez, Mike Rowe, Gary Gustafson, Jacob McGill, Elijah Berndt) to Grand Portage in support of the ministry of Jake and April McCormick and Mount Rose Community Church. This was the 6th year that we have sent a team to Grand Portage. We will head there again next year mid-June if you want to think ahead.

It was a very successful trip. There were three main goals that were accomplished:

1. We were able to support Jacob and April. They have a lot going in their ministry, in their family (4 kids now), and in April’s role on the tribal council. The ministry is growing, but it still is very much driven by the youth of the Reservation. There are very few adults around to support the ministry, so some of the things that we take for granted here at Central that are done by volunteers, are not done for that ministry. It was great to be able to provide some breathing space for the ministry. Their family is getting bigger, they have 4 children, which is certainly a big job for any set of parents. Finally, April’s role on the council has brought new stress to the family. It is a great position and she is well qualified, but the tribe is not in great shape financially and April has had to speak some hard truths to the residents of the Reservation. While this has been mostly well received, the hard work is still to come.

2. The second main goal was to complete some projects. Every year we are there we help with cleaning the church, both inside and outside. There is some yard work that needs to be completed, including mowing and clearing brush, cutting up trees, and items like that to get the yard prepared for the summer. Inside the church there is always a lot of work – our main jobs included a deep clean of the building, re-organizing the pantry, and painting the floor of the basement. Other projects around the Reservation included a lot of yard work for elders of the church as well as yard work for members of the community that are unable to do the work themselves. It is a great blessing to represent the church in the greater community of the Reservation. Some of the fruit of this work was on display this past week at a Warrior Leadership Council (an annual youth outreach event for Native youth in Missouri), where three girls from Grand Portage made a decision for Christ!

3. We wanted to spend some time with the youth. We were able to do this through some hikes and outdoor games, spending time hanging out inside and playing games, and also having a cookout on Lake Superior. Investing in the youth is a primary focus of the ministry. We were also able to take part in the worship service on Sunday evening, including worship and teaching (and the community dinner right before the service).

Overall, it was great to be a part of the trip and we look forward to next year. Mike Rowe, who has been on multiple trips to Grand Portage, also offered this reflection on three of the young adults from the tribe.

God’s heart for the Anishinabeg at Grand Portage

Colossians 3:3-4: Your life is hidden with Christ. Christ gives meaning to your life.

I wish to tell you a little about three young adults who are part of the Anishinabeg people and a central part of the Mount Rose Community Church in Grand Portage Reservation. Together they exemplify in their own ways the passage from Colossians 3. They are truly gentle, kind, humble, meek and patient (Col 3:12).

Vallen is the oldest of the three. He has a solid college (and grad school) education behind him and is employed in research by the tribe. He also is at home as the youth leader of Mount Rose. He relates well with the junior and senior high youth, but he is also quick to relate well with children, senior adults, and his peers. Vallen is a strong supporter of Jake and his family. He sees value in their ministry to his people.

Next I want to tell you about Czarina. She is in her mid-20s and is currently at college in Bemidji. Czarina is very quiet but her life and demeanor shine brightly of the love of Christ. Each of the past summers she has spent the month of July sharing her love of Jesus with native youth in reservations throughout the US and Canada. She is sharing her powerful testimony this July as well. We at Central have been privileged to share financially in her ministry. We are giving $500 this summer to her ministry.

Lastly, there is Doug. Doug is an unusual young man. He just finished his second year of college in Iowa. He is extremely intelligent but doesn’t show it in his normally shy behavior. He is vey self-effacing, never wanting to be in the limelight. My prayer for Doug is that he will find a mentor who can encourage the gifts that he has into a ministry that is fitting for him.

I discovered a copy of The Blessing for a Church by James Dillet Freeman placed in an unobtrusive corner of Mount Rose Church. I want to share a quote from that Blessing as an example of the Spirit of the church. Within the boisterousness of the active youth, I feel that this spirit prevails:

“May this always be a place of inner stillness, where we may listen and hear when God speaks.”

Mike Rowe