What if God offered you the opportunity
to spread the Gospel to an unreached people group without leaving the United States? Now, the location is a little remote,
the people may view you with hostility, and there are high rates of social ills—but will you go?
Twelve years ago,
Chet and Barbara Marks answered the call and moved to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the home of the Lakota
Why go to such a place? These are a people God loves no less than any other, yet they have a distorted understanding
of the Gospel from years of mistreatment by “the White man.” How better to reach them than to dwell among them
and demonstrate the Good News in person?
That’s why Pastor Chet and Barbara live in the community. Over the years
they have offered a mobile children’s church, Bible studies, a chess club at the local school, free lemonade in the
park on hot summer days, sack lunches to the home- less, and gardening education. All the activities are focused on bringing
people to a saving knowledge
of Jesus Christ. They planted a church, New Life
Fellowship, which has a small, loyal
congregation. A solid understand- ing of the Bible is central to their discipleship program, as is evangelism training.
Why is it so hard to grow a church on the Rez? Their “community” covers 11,000 square miles of wind- swept prairie
and pine-covered hills. That makes gathering people a challenge given the fact that towns are at least 30 miles apart and
few people have working cars of trucks. (They hitchhike or catch the infrequent reservation bus.)
The New Life ministry
gives people rides to church, but those vehicles need replacing every couple of years due to axle-destroying road conditions.
Rez Connection has just started a Christian school operating out of the church building. Working with children is key to
helping families open up to the message of hope for a new life in Christ. So far three Native American students from Wound-
ed Knee are attending, along with the Marks children.
Because people are so spread out across the Rez and few families
have reliable vehicles, the school has to provide transportation. Monthly financial supporters are sought to participate in
this ministry, to pay the costs of fuel, vehicle maintenance, curriculum and supplies.
Eight years ago, God led Chet
and Barbara to become Seventh Day Baptists, and the Missionary Society has sponsored a number of short-term missions to “the
Rez.” In 2007 our local church Association sponsored
a week long trip, and I’ve been leading teams there
annually ever since. What do we do on these trips?
We take meals to the elderly and homeless. We go to parks to visit
with people, play a game of football or chess, and offer a Gospel tract.
We weed community gardens, listen to local people
tell their stories and offer them the story of salvation. We help with chores on the farm. We study evangelism and the local
culture so we can share Jesus more effectively. And we are transformed by the experience, making us better servants of Christ
Want to join us this year? A trip is planned for June. Contact me at email@example.com, or by phone
at 720-320-3418. You may also contact the Missionary Society at SDBMissoc@verizon.net, or call 401-596-4326.
participate in the minis- try by praying and/or giving? Con- tact Pastor Chet Marks at the Rez Connection, PO Box 35, Batesland
SD 57716, or by e-mail: NewLife FellowshipSD@hotmail.com.