The Unreached Arapahoe

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I spent last week in Riverton, Wyoming, on the Wind River Reservation, home to the Northern Arapahoe.  This tribe of Indians is considered an unreached people group because less than 2% of them are Christian.  The question is why?  How is it possible that in a country that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that has sent missionaries around the globe, that a people group in our own borders has continued to be unreached?  After my time in Wyoming here are a few observations:

  • Going around the world to reach lost people is more “exotic” than reaching lost people close to home (or in Wyoming).
  • Wyoming, in general, is lost regardless of “tribe.”  90% of white Wyoming is lost.  97% of the Shoshoni are lost.  99% of the Northern Arapahoe are lost.  Wyoming is LOST.
  • There is a palatable divide between the white man and the Arapahoe.  In the words of one pastor I met, “The white man are living on land that used to belong to the Arapahoe, and the Arapahoe have not forgotten this.”  In addition, there is a definite sense of resistance from white churches to reach across to the Arapahoe for all kinds of reasons.  These are two separate communities living around and within one another but who rarely interact.
  • The Northern Arapahoe are wonderful people.  My time on the reservation working with their children and talking to adults was nothing but exciting and pleasant.  They engaged our team in many spiritual discussions.
  • Because of poor Catholic influence, MANY Arapahoe have blended what they think is Christianity together with their ancient tribal religion.  Syncretism pervades and it is a huge problem.
  • It takes nothing more than a smile, a handshake, and a little respect to gain BIG inroads into the Arapahoe community.  Our missions pastor Scott Ward will be blogging in detail on his blog about a rare encounter he and I along with another pastor had.  Essentially, we three were invited to participate in an ancient healing ceremony in a teepee with drum, fire, peyote, etc.  It is unheard of for a white man to receive such an invitation.  We were there just four days and earned this privilege.
  • So…the Northern Arapahoe can be reached!  It will take prayer for a man of peace to be found and the investment of local Christians.   But it can be done!

Join me in praying for the unreached Arapahoe.

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