Jul 7, 2017

Charismatics eye First Nations as the new missionary vanguard

Religion Watch
Volume 32 No. 9

American Indians have long had the attention of missionaries and evangelists, but more recently they have become the protagonists of numerous prophecies by charismatic Christians that the First Nation tribes and their reservations are the harbingers of revival in America, according to Charisma magazine (June). In 1975, Billy Graham prophesied that Native Americans hold the key to Christian revival—a prediction that evangelists have repeated since then. Apostolic revivalist Ryan LeStrange claimed to receive a revelation two years ago showing him that reservations will become revival zones with prayer houses sending forth American Indian missionaries and evangelists. Greg Miller portrayed this idea that American Indians will be instrumental in revival in the Christian film Awakened: The Spiritual Destiny of the First Americans. But the Charisma report finds there have only been “pockets of awakening” taking place since the 1970s, with such a ministry as Ranch Camp in the Navajo Nation organizing a Gathering of Tribal Nations in 2017. There are also instances of Christian upsurge outside of the Navajo Nation among the Lakota people and in Alaskan tribes through a movement called AKONEDAY. American Indian Christian leaders are also “pressing in hard” among the Mandan, Cherokee, Apache, Muckleshoot, and Mohawk tribes.

Jennifer LeClaire writes that most of these prophecies about the leading role of American Indians in revival acknowledge that Christianity’s associations with injustices and atrocities committed against these peoples have tainted it. But they stress the spiritual authority that Native American Christians hold in their own lands. Some American Indian and non-native evangelicals and charismatics even see reservations as places of refuge for traditional Christians and Jews as well as zones where conservative Christian values are upheld even as they are diminishing in the U.S. as a whole. LeClaire reports that Navajos, as a sovereign nation, are able to ignore federal rulings on their lands, and thus the tribe’s Christian president and vice-president have tried to uphold “biblical values,” including opposing same-sex marriage. Many tribes also maintained official ties with Israel in spite of the Obama administration’s lack of support. Miller says that native Christian leaders saw more possibility of reservations serving as refuge places before the Trump presidency, but this belief may be rekindled if they see secular pressures grow again.

(Charisma, 600 Rhinehart Rd., Lake Mary, Fl 32746)


No comments: