Missions Moment – Navajo Nation

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Aaron and Nancy Palmatier, Missions Door

This year I have enjoyed a lot of time on the Navajo Reservation and shared many meals with the families there. I have appreciated the opportunity to learn from them and their culture. One thing that always stands out is their emphasis on community. The needs of the extended family as well as the needs of the larger clan are top priority. It reminds me of what the Bible says about the first century church that held all things in common.

Ministry on the Reservation often takes on a very Southwestern approach. Many of the Navajo are sheep herders and cattle ranchers which can mean many hours on horseback. Leonard Yazzie, a Missions Door missionary, is also a nationally ranked rodeo star and leads his family in state competitions. I didn’t grow up riding horses but as the ministry grows, so do I. The Yazzies have been very patiently teaching me how to spend 8 hours in the saddle and enjoy it.

Missions Door Navajo missionaries lead 5 churches on the Reservation. Growth can be slow and discouraging at times. The church planters are always dealing with syncretism with the Native American Church. This church movement is popular across the Reservation and into other tribes as well. The Native American Church uses the Bible in their services and memorize large portions of scripture but ingest large amounts of peyote for God to use to enlighten them. You can imagine Missions Door Navajo church planters trying to explain that the mind altering drug is not part of what God desires for his people. It can be challenging given that peyote is so widely accepted and considered holy and sacred. Please pray for the Yazzies (three families) and Tsosies as they pastor their churches and start new ones.