In the aftermath of tragedy, Darrell Auginash burns with a message for parents. "Children are killing children and we're living in fear," he says. "How many children are going to die before we take up the battle for our kids?"

Darrell rushed to the hospital on March 21, planning to minister to the victims of the Red Lake High School shooting in Minnesota. Shocked, he found his fifteen year-old nephew, Ryan, was one of the wounded.

The tragedy began when a 16-year-old assassin shot and killed his grandfather and his grandfather's partner before going to school. When he turned his gun upon himself at the end of his rampage, nine people lay dead, with several others seriously wounded.

As Darrell fights to help his people survive the pain, his battle cry to the world is simple: be intentional about building a relationship with kids.

Born and raised on the Red Lake Ojibwe (Chippewa) Reservation, Darrell has a rich heritage, which includes many hours of traipsing the woods and fishing the waters of his homeland with his dad. He's watched his community's culture deteriorate to the point that most of its youth live in homes without fathers. Recently, he asked a teenage boy if he knew who his father was. "He wants nothing to do with me" the boy responded.

"The kids are hard because their dads don't love them. This is happening all across America, but the problems are multiplied on the reservations."

According to Darrell, the reservation's Catholic school has only six families in attendance whose parents live together -- and in these homes, the parents cohabitate. Many families are facing four to five generations of children growing up with absentee fathers.

While varied factors lead to school shootings (such as those in Columbine and Red Lake) researchers have uncovered similar threads connecting the cases. An FBI study of 18 school shootings released in 2000 identified the lack of intimacy at home as one of those factors. This is the issue at the heart of Darrell's passion.

"Too many children are sent away to school all day and then farmed out to activities that fill their free time," he says. "People don't do enough as a family. The children have their thing and the parents have their thing and everyone is discontent. Individual achievement comes at the expense of the family."

Darrell remembers a childhood filled with families coming together to harvest wild rice, plant a garden, and make maple syrup. Today's fast paced society, often metropolitan, faces challenges unknown in that era. Families, bombarded with a myriad of enticing activities for their children, must daily choose between little league or family mealtime, summer theatre or a family camping trip, and the list goes on.

The struggle for financial survival adds more pressure. With many dual income families and countless other single parent homes, how do parents balance the need for monetary provision with their children's need for time? While Darrell doesn't claim to have all the answers, he believes in the value of prioritizing the family. "The greatest thing a father can do for his kids is to spend time with them."

Dan Schaffer, founder of Building Brothers (www.buildingbrothers.org), a ministry that grew out of the Promise Keepers movement, agrees. "Everywhere I've been, I've seen the intensity of this need for the Father's blessing," says Schaffer. "Both men and women long for a positive father figure in their lives."

Giving kids what they need is difficult enough when there's a father in the home, but what do you do when the father is absent? "The church can't stand by and leave the problems to the welfare system," says Darrell. "We need to reach out to these kids and their parents."

Darrell, who founded First Nations Ministry, reaches out by hosting activities for the youth in his community. Fish camp is an example. Christian men, some of who are expert fishermen, take the kids away for the weekend, teach them to fish, and spend lots of time sitting around the fire "just talking."

Darrell intends to launch a unique Christian school through First Nation's Ministry -- one that both embraces the Ojibwe heritage and exalts Jesus. He believes his community will benefit. "Training our youth in the ways of the Lord will have a positive impact. From these kids will come leaders who can address the unique concerns of the Native American with the wisdom of God. It is a longer route, a slower route, but a better route."

The school's design will include a home schooling component. "As much as possible kids need to learn about God and life from their parents," says Darrell. "Parenting is a tough job, no matter what culture you are in. Spiritual teaching is even more complicated for the Native American." Darrell wants to help Native American parents by teaching them how to apply Biblical principles to their heritage and share this application with their children. The school will offer a two-year discipleship course for parents to aid them.

Darrell encourages the church body across America to reach out to families and look for ways to support parents and kids. He sets the example by spending time with fatherless kids, praying for the hurting, and encouraging parents in their often overwhelming needs.

"The tragedies at Columbine and Red Lake are a symptom of a generation who needs their parents," commented Darrell. "Let's help the parents. Let's be there for the kids."


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To support the youth of the Red Lake Reservation, you may donate to the First Nations Ministries. Contact Darrell Auginash at darrella@paulbunyan.net, call him at 218-586-3334, or write First Nations Ministries, 11559 Sandpiper Rd NE, Bemidji, Mn 56601. For a more detailed look at the Red Lake tragedy and its comparisons to Columbine, visit Torchgrab ministries at http://www.torchgrab.org/redlake.htm.

A mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer writes from her home in Colorado. Her website, www.soulscents.us offers a free weekly devotional as well as Christian book reviews, home schooling hints, and a parenting page. You can contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us


 *Above photo of Darrell Auginash reprinted with permission:  Livingstonesnews.com (May 2005).