Learning From A Native American
- Friday, June 03, 2005
I recently stood, tears trailing down my cheeks, as I listened to Darrell Auginash, an Ojibwe Native American, sing Amazing Grace to the rhythm of his traditional drum. Darrell, a minister on the Red Lake Reservation where the March 21st high school massacre occurred, is teaching me a lot about my call to my family.
Darrell’s life has not been easy. Though raised by an attentive and loving father, he succumbed to the pressures of reservation life as a teen, taking up drugs and alcohol. He became a Christian at 27 years old thanks to the faithful testimony of his wife, Corky. The first 20 or more years after his conversion were spent “getting the world out” of him. Eventually, Darrell matured and God called him to attend seminary and to then return to his people to share the gospel.
Darrell reminds me of the verse in Ephesians 6 that tells us to “stand” and then says, “and after you’ve done everything, stand.” Sharing the gospel with a culture that is embittered against Christianity was never an easy task for Darrell. Add a teenage killer and the horror of a massacre and the job becomes daunting. Now multiply the problem with a surrounding community that struggles to reach out to the people of the reservation due to racial tension and you’ve got a prescription for despair.
But Darrell stands.
And he walks forward, sharing his love with hurting kids, exhorting his people to forgive, and planning a plethora of ways to minister to those traumatized by the tragedy.
Darrell teaches me to stand.
As a home schooling mother, I haven’t faced a killer’s gun. My personal circle includes mostly Christian moms, many of them homeschoolers, and we’re all dedicated to sharing Christ with our children. Yet, there are many days I find it difficult to stand. The responsibility to teach and train my children can be overwhelming. I get discouraged by bad attitudes (mine and theirs!), the magnitude of tasks that pull at me, and academic concepts that seem beyond our grasp.
But, listening to Darrell reminds me that God is bigger than the things that pull me down. He is powerful enough to move mightily through Darrell on the Red Lake Reservation, and to work through me to bless my family. Just as God is leading Darrell, showing him ways to answer the needs in his community, God will empower me to meet the needs of my family. I can stand.
Darrell also teaches me about suffering. His nephew, Ryan, was one of the wounded in the Red Lake tragedy. Darrell could have gone inside of himself focusing on his own pain, or the pain of his immediate family. But, instead of pulling away from others who are hurting, Darrel enters their pain as well, spending countless hours visiting in their homes, talking with the survivors, weeping with the families, taking the teens fishing—doing whatever he can to bring them comfort and encouragement.
His actions remind me that the Bible tells us to weep with those who weep.
As a home schooling mom I have to ask myself, am I willing to enter into the suffering of others?
Recently, Darrell exhorted me, “In this secular society it is every man for himself. We’ve lost the heart to serve. We get into our own little worlds and become like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. We walk on by.”
His words remind me to teach my children to be the Good Samaritan, not the religious scribe who won’t dirty his holy robes. While we need to share tragedy with our kids in an age appropriate manner, I believe informing our children of the world’s pain, and helping them find ways help, is an important step in their spiritual training. It takes them out of the natural tendency to self-centeredness and teaches them to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world.
There is a temptation to protect my children (and myself) from the pain of the world. But that wouldn’t be following Jesus, who left perfection to live in our messes and save us from the world’s hopeless condition. I believe entering into the suffering of others needs to become an important part of my children’s homeschooling curriculum.
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