Persevering in These Last Days

Is the Navajo reservation a mission field? Many struggle with no running water, electricity, plumbing, or a vehicle to get to town for needs. Alcohol addiction, no money for necessities, emotional disfunction within families, health complications from lifestyle habits—these are a few of the things that plague people on the Navajo reservation. Add to these things monthly government checks that provide a false sense of security and that some feel even with the above issues that they have no real need for help. Like all mission fields, being an outsider can make it more challenging to reach people. These are just a few of the issues where we live. It is not everyone who struggles with these things, but it is far more than it has to be.

During our time on the reservation we have become connected with many wonderful people with amazing hearts. Some whose families or even themselves are experiencing deep pain and disfunction, either from addiction issues (very common), or from generational pain and emotional hurt. The truth is, it’s not an easy fix for many of our friends here. Lack of employment, lack of encouraging family support, abuse, among other things, has deepened the sense of hopelessness that people feel. But, praise God, with Him leading, we still believe nothing is impossible! (Luke 1:37) And we have seen those here who are overcoming their challenges and drawing closer to Jesus!

We are humbled continually at how small we are, and how big God is. We have read stories in far off lands of mass conversions, and long for the day when those of us working on the Navajo reservation, the largest reservation in the United States will be able to witness outpourings like that! But, we have not fainted nor given up hope. We know God is active here in the hearts of our Navajo friends. One life at a time, slow as it can seem, is one more soul that we will be able to stand next to in eternity and rejoice with over their choice to follow the Lamb.

Perseverance…It is definitely something we are all going to need in these last days that we are living in. We have experienced God teaching us this lesson here in the Navajo Nation. But, this is a lesson we will all have to learn, whether in our mission field, another mission field or in the country, suburbs or cities. Christ tells us in Matthew 24:13, that those that endure unto the end will be saved. Praise God that He will never leave us nor forsake us, He promises that through His strength we will be able to endure the trials!

It isn’t always a popular thing to say, but hard times are coming; hard times have already come for many, we see it all around us…and we ask ourselves often are we ready to stand and to continue standing until the end. Will you be ready to stand—to endure? Will you be willing to help others to stand and endure? This is the thought that continues to come to us as we enter another New Year and another year closer to our Savior’s return.

We want to do all we can, until the Lord guides us otherwise, to help our friends here on the Navajo reservation to stand in Christ, and to help strengthen their faith so they too will be able to endure as times continue to get more difficult. We can see the signs of the times as written about in Revelation 13, and in the words of Jesus nearing their fulfillment and leading to His second coming. We are told in Matthew 24:14 that after the Gospel has been preached throughout the world, and to ALL nations, the end will come.

Will you help us pray for God’s outpouring here on this nation — the Navajo Nation, and around the world so our Savior can return soon to take us home? A home where we are promised there will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more suffering; what an amazing hope for the Navajo people, for you and me and for the entire world!

In His service, Tony and Darah

Praying for Navajo Radio Waves

A recent meeting at the Window Rock SDA Church to discuss the possible Radio station.

One of our challenges on the Navajo Reservation is that the Navajo people are spread out, and many live along roads that are at times near impossible to travel. Much of the roads leading to homes on the reservation are dirt, so when it rains or snows, these become muddy and very difficult to get down, especially if you don’t own a four-wheel drive. Another challenge is an initial skepticism from some Navajo people to attend any function that might be related to the church. With years of mistrust built up from wrong-doings in the past, it can be hard to reach people with the true messages in the Bible and with God’s love. That being said, we have some exciting possibilities coming to the Navajo reservation for the future that we believe will help overcome these hurdles.

There have been ongoing discussions for a high powered radio station to come to our area. To be able to reach souls in their own homes on our spread out mission field (27,000 square miles of Navajo Reservation), with the Everlasting Gospel and with health messages (greatly needed here), would be a blessing beyond measure.

About three months ago, we received an unexpected call from Allen Steele, one of the original founders of Adventist World Radio (AWR). This call eventually led to Allen and his wife coming to Window Rock and holding a meeting with local missionaries, pastors and lay workers in the area about the possibility of starting a high powered radio station to reach the Navajo reservation.

From this meeting much research is now being done, including a frequency search to determine if we will be able to obtain an FCC license, and to locate the best possible location for the main station. At the present discussions have led to the possibility of expanding an already existing low-power station at our local Adventist school: Holbrook Indian School (an hour and half south of the capital of the Navajo Nation), where AWR has already provided some studio equipment and God has provided many “possible radio helpers,” in the form of Holbrook students.

Through radio we would be able to share the Three Angels message and the Everlasting Gospel into homes that we wouldn't likely be able to reach otherwise. The radio would also share God’s health message which is also greatly in need here! Please pray for God’s outpouring on this project as many hands are now involved in doing their part to prayerfully make this a reality for the Navajo people.

Effie's Baptism

Effie at this summer's evangelism with Jackson and one of our young volunteers: Josiah.

We met Effie over two years ago at a cooking class that ATGO held at the Chapter House in the St. Michaels area. It’s amazing to see how God leads and opens doors. Since our first meeting Effie, we have come to love her and her husband Robert, who was also baptized after this summer’s evangelism. Effie has stayed with her faith despite some very difficult trials, as many here face. She said at her recent baptism, that she believed after years of searching she had found the truth and was excited to be baptized!

CALL FOR LABORERS STILL OPEN

I heard a missionary say recently: "God doesn't need money to move forward in the work, what He needs is more human resources!" We have to remember though it might be easier at times to give money and feel our requirement to the Great commission is fulfilled, our Father in heaven already owns it all. Our Father owns all the cattle on seven hills (Psalm 50:10-11). What He doesn't own is your free will and mine. He will not force us to become deeply involved in the work of spreading the Gospel, God doesn't force. He does however call, and many are being and have been called that have answered, but knowing the shortage of workers in our field alone (which is similar all over the world) many are not answering the call. Time is short and doors will not always be open to do today what we may not be able to do tomorrow. (John 9:4: I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.)

When you hear the voice of God; sometimes the still small voice, sometimes the loud cry, calling you, will you answer? We will only speak directly to the needs in our mission field of the last several years, but the workers are few, and we are praying to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers. Maybe you already have a work right where God has placed you, you should stay and not neglect the first work. But, for many others, God has been calling them away from their own pleasures to do His pleasure, is this you? We ask ourselves this also, is this us?

Christmas Gifts & Open Doors

One Simple Idea Can Lead to Great Things when God Leads

Believing that literature, and handouts uplifting the Savior should be “scattered as leaves of autumn,” and knowing that the Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:11 that God’s Word when it is shared, will not return void, but will accomplish the work which pleases Him, I prayed this year about what we could do for those in our area to share the love of Jesus this Christmas.

I have noticed over the years of living on the reservation that this time of year can be particularly hard time for people here. If people don’t have family (or strained family relationships, which is very common) and have no where to go for a Christmas meal or some way to feel included, it creates deep feelings of loneliness and sadness. In year’s past our family has invited over those we knew that didn’t have family to share either Thanksgiving or Christmas with to our small trailer for fellowship and a holiday meal. This year as I prayed both at Thanksgiving and now again at Christmas it seemed the Lord was calling us to share not just kind words and meals with others but to share the Word of God. We also shared a gift of either fresh fruits or for some we knew that were in special need, a grocery gift card to help out. We focused our efforts on all who had come (and drifted away) and those who are actively still coming to our small church plant, as a way of encouraging the believers, and seeking the lost sheep.

God was able to open doors from a simple idea that were a huge blessing! We gave one church member who is elderly and on a tight budget a gift card, just after she had attended services and heard a message about trusting God with everything you own, even if it’s not much. She texted me later in the evening after she had gone home and opened her gift. She told me how she had been very worried that she would not have enough money for her needs this month, but had been praying and letting God know her situation. Then she came to church and heard the message about trusting God with even the little she had. She went home and tried to believe what she had heard—but, was still uncertain…then when she opened her gift and found a gift card for groceries! She said her faith was so encouraged; it became real to her that God had in fact cared for her too and that she could trust Him with all she had!

Another family we visited had been consistently coming to the small church plant last year but we had not seen them in a while. We were able to share with them a gift also, and find out why they had not been attending. They said they had been ashamed because one of their family members struggled with alcohol and their embarrassment had kept them away from coming to church. I was excited to hear that it was something simple that could be remedied and after I explained that there was no reason to be embarrassed, they were reassured and said they would try to come back to mid-week Bible studies soon. Amazing how a simple follow-up with those who have left the church can encourage them to come back!

It's often the simple things that we can do for our friends here that help them to see Jesus loves them. Our elderly friend, Effie was so happy for Jackson to come over and help fix a lock on her hogan, and move some bags of heavy wood pellets for heating. She has no one close by to help her with day to day things like this. Below her dog had a litter of 7 pups, which she asked us to help find homes...she was overwhelmed with yet another litter and said at her age it was too much to handle. After the pups were weaned we came back and also took her dog to have her spayed, Effie said she was so happy she wouldn't have to deal with anymore litters. Many elderly on the reservation struggle without family members to help care for them; small things to us can be huge blessings for them!

PRAISES & PRAYER REQUESTS:

  1. Praising God for local missionaries who volunteered to get the church truck fixed so it can be used this winter to help provide firewood for local people in need.

  2. Praising God for the progress so far to start a high powered radio station on the reservation, prayers for the many steps involved to make this a reality!

  3. Prayers for a permanent pastor, who is coming in January for a visit. Prayers the conference will see a need for this, if it's God's will.

  4. Prayers needed for the water lines to be installed and connected soon in the donated church trailer.

  5. Prayers for Bible workers who can work as a team in this area sharing the Everlasting Gospel, and permanent housing solutions in the area for all volunteers and possible pastor coming.

  6. Prayers for all of our Navajo friends who have drifted away or are struggling with addiction.

  7. Prayers for a possible 12 step Biblical Addiction recovery program at the church plant.

Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God...

NEEDS

  1. Prayers for a radio station to become a reality in the Navajo Nation's Capital and that it would have a strong enough frequency (or be able to be played through repeater towers) to reach the entire reservation.

  2. Bible workers and other consecrated volunteers who have the means to be self-supporting and who desire to see more people on the Navajo reservation come to health, healing and salvation.

Ministry Goals

  1. To share the message of truth in the Bible and salvation through Jesus Christ with Native people groups using health outreach aimed at improving physical and emotional wellbeing.

  2. To help Native people groups know Jesus by teaching from the Word of God.

  3. To equip indigenous peoples to reach their own with the Gospel and to prepare them for Jesus' second coming.

The boys feeding the horses at Holbrook Indian School during their tour recently.

School Sponsorship

We have recently become more acquainted with one of the family’s we met at our summer evangelism. They came to many of the meetings despite it being a whole month long series, and not having a car to get to the meetings, God always arranged a way for them (and others without vehicles to attend). They seemed hungry to find truth in God’s Word. But, sadly after the meetings this family disappeared and we didn’t hear from them again—until recently.

Just this month they reached out once again asking for a ride, but to church this time. They have been trying faithfully to come both to church and mid-week Bible study when they are able. Recently, the whole family expressed their desire to be baptized. Sadly, though the Devil is using alcohol to keep this precious family away from church. But, as difficult as addiction is for them and others here, God continues to tell us not to give up on families like this one, especially in this case, for the children’s sake.

Every time we have seen these boys outside of church service, they are wearing the same tattered jeans, light sweaters (no matter how cold the weather is) with holes and worn down shoes. We have also been told that at times there is no heat in their trailer. It is hard to imagine them wearing those light sweaters with no heat at home. Though many think of Arizona (where we are located) to be desert and always warm, we are actually high desert at almost 7000 elevation and can have pretty cold extremes in the winter months, especially at night.

So, one afternoon we decided to pick up the boys and take them to Walmart to let them pick out thick winter coats, winter hats and gloves. After this, the younger brother mentioned to me that their shoes were also quite old. The older boy jabbed his younger brother to let him know that wasn't right to ask for more. But, I had already noticed, so next we looked for shoes. When we got to the shoe store both boys were so embarrassed to try shoes on because there socks had not been washed in some time, and they didn’t want to take their shoes off. After some convincing, both were able to pick out shoes that will hopefully last for a while. This has probably been the highlight of my year, watching them get warm clothes and seeing how grateful they were. Not once but several times on the ride back home to our town they told us how much they appreciated the clothes.

The parents desperately want their boys to learn about Jesus and be in a healthy, safe place. They have asked if we can help their two boys attend the local Adventist school, Holbrook Indian School, which is located an hour south of where we live on the reservation. We have taken the family to tour the school, and the parents and the boys all agree that it would be the best place for them. But, we have been informed that there are currently no openings. They are now on a wait list, with 13 other possible students before them. Please help us pray that God will open a way for these boys to be able to secure a spot at the school soon where they can be safe and will learn the love of Jesus!

Priscilla on the far right, when she was able to attend weekly Bible study.

PRAYING FOR PRISCILLA

After, sometime, we now have the funding for Priscilla to attend a disease recovery program in Wildwood, GA. We are currently working through the details in the hopes that Pricilla will be able to get the help she needs to improve her many health issues. In the past, Priscilla faithfully came to most all health fairs and cooking classes that we held in her area and then began studying the Bible with us. After a year of studying, she was our first baptized church member.

Sadly though, Priscilla has since become house bound (at only 57 years old) and has to have constant caregivers due to her rheumatoid arthritis and other health complications. This prevents her from attending church, and from living a full life. We believe Jesus clearly tells us that we are to care for our fellow church members, when he said: “they will know that we are His disciples if we love one another.” We are praying that God will help Priscilla not only to physically heal but to strengthen her so she can continue to be a light and testimony for truth in God’s Word to others here on the reservation!

JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS 12 Step Biblical Recovery Program

Recently, we had a couple in need of an inpatient alcohol recovery program, so I reached out to the North American Division Health Ministries to inquire about programs that we could refer people to from our area. In reply I was contacted with information instead about an upcoming convention being held in Albuquerque, NM in which one of the courses being offered was training for addiction recovery. I was amazed that the timing was coming up soon, and it was so close to our location. This truly seemed like it could be a larger answer to prayer not just for this one couple, but for others also who we have tried to help in this area struggling with addictions.

After praying and thinking through the idea, we decided we wouldn’t personally be able to attend due to the dates and Tony’s work schedule. But, we still felt there is a great need in our area for a Biblical addiction recovery program. So, we decided to put the information out to other ministries and churches close by to see if anyone would be willing to go the training and ATGO offered to pay their tuition. We are thrilled that one of the ladies who has been attending our church and our sister church in Kinlichee, a local Navajo women, has agreed to go!

Thomasita has been praying for sometime on how God could use her, and about retiring soon from her position with the Navajo Nation. It wasn’t long ago, that the Lord answered one of her prayers, and sent an educated young professional she could train for her position so she could consider retirement. Now, it seems possible that God is answering Thomasita’s (and our) other prayer of where He can use her in His service! Please help us pray that Thomasita can get the time off from her job to attend, and that God will open the way for this ministry in Window Rock!

Sunny Tails Rescue UPDATE

After slipping down our friend's muddy driveway in our car, we decided to leave the car at the road, and walk up the back of the mesa to our friend's trailer to get the remaining four dogs. After many slides down the hill even on foot we managed to get this photo on the way up!

Trail to our friend's trailer, almost there!

Two of the dogs we found on our first visit that needed to find new homes, these two were struggling to gain weight, and were likely the skinniest dogs we had ever seen, either here in the states or in some of the third world countries we have been in, where most dogs are thin from malnutrition.

To date 130 strays have been taken from the reservation and re-homed into safe places. Most recently, we have really seen how helping these animals has been a help to our friends here on the reservation. In October, one of our elderly friend’s dog had another litter of 7 pups. According to our friend her dog, Girly has had a litter of puppies for the last 7 years both spring and fall. We thought about the math on this, estimating that she might have had 5 pups each litter for the last 7 years, which would be 70 more dogs added to the already overpopulated reservation! Then when we thought of how many of those could have been female and likely had litters each year of their own, wow, the number grew rapidly! And, our friend was unable to care for seven more puppies. We transported the seven, but soon after the puppies from this litter were weaned, we took Girly in to have her spayed for our friend—finally stopping this bi-annual cycle of many unwanted pups!

Another family we met during the evangelism series was struggling with the same problem. They had taken too many strays in over the years, and were now overrun with dogs on their property from not having them spayed and neutered. The family with two kids still in the home were already struggling themselves to provide enough wood for their wood stove to keep their trailer warm. After providing them with enough wood for several days during a very cold spell, we came back by for a visit with them in December to share a Great Controversy book and some food for the holidays. When we arrived we again noticed their many dogs and asked if they would like help with finding some homes. We are still not completely certain on the actual number of dogs they were caring for, but believe it was somewhere between 20-25. They were relieved and immediately began to show us around to the ones we could take, several of which had serious injuries that they had been unable to care for. Total we planned to re-home five of their dogs (sadly one died the day before we arrived, so we took four), and after the New Years we have plans to come back for the eight females to have them spayed.

We have seen this cycle again and again where we live; a simple helping hand to get pets spayed has been a real blessing for our friends here who don't own a vehicle to take their dogs in or may not have the money for the procedure. We are thankful for one more way to reach our Navajo friends by showing them we care for them and their pets!

How To Donate: would you like to help us keep this outreach going? You can donate towards any of our current needs. All donations received will be used towards our most pressing needs in the order God is leading us to fulfill them. There are no overhead ministry costs, as we all work on a volunteer basis. We are able to provide tax deductible receipts for some donations (specifically, if they are donated to the local church plant needs), contact us directly if you need a receipt for tax purposes on your donation. Support can be mailed to: ATGO Ministries PO Box 3173 Window Rock, AZ, 86515 You can also contact us via email: darahvarga@atgoministries.org or call 928-275-3180.

You Can Also Donate Online: www.ATGOministries.org!

Featured Posts
Recent Posts