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American Indians to host The Gathering in Oklahoma City

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  • Rob Schmidt
    http://newsok.com/american-indians-to-host-the-gathering-in-oklahoma-city/article/3543578 American Indians to host The Gathering in Oklahoma City American
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2011
      http://newsok.com/american-indians-to-host-the-gathering-in-oklahoma-city/article/3543578

      American Indians to host The Gathering in Oklahoma City

      American Indian Southern Baptist leaders will meet for The Gathering to consider ways to help American Indians connect to the
      Gospel.

      BY CARLA HINTON chinton@... Oklahoman
      Published: February 26, 2011

      Historical and cultural barriers often keep American Indians from connecting to the Gospel, two Southern Baptist leaders said this
      week.

      The Rev. Emerson Falls and the Rev. Eddie Lindsey hope to pinpoint those obstacles and find ways to combat them during The
      Gathering, an event set for Wednesday through Friday in Oklahoma City.
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      Falls and Lindsey, both American Indians, said they expect about 500 American Indian leaders of Southern Baptists churches across
      the United States and Canada to join in The Gathering.

      Falls is immediate past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and senior pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in
      Oklahoma City. Lindsey is a church planter strategist with the state convention. Falls is a member of the Sac and Fox and Choctaw
      tribes. Lindsey is a Creek Indian.

      Falls, 62, said guest speakers will include men who have worked with native people in other parts of the world and in other areas of
      the country.

      "We've been praying about this for a long time," he said. "We want to be open and see what God will say ... to us. Why not see what
      God is already doing?"

      Falls said between 90 and 95 percent of American Indians are not Christians, and yet the Christian faith community has been working
      to connect them to Christ for many years.

      Falls said one reason that more American Indians don't turn to Christianity is the Christian faith community's troubled history with
      American Indian tribes. He said past encounters between Christian missionaries and American Indians have left a legacy of suspicion
      in the American Indian community.

      "The same Christians who brought us Christianity are the same people who took our land and tried to take away our culture, so it's
      understandable," Falls said. "I'm presenting it not as an accusation, but it is a barrier."

      He said he grew up in a Christian household because his father converted to Christianity. However, Falls said he encountered the
      doubt and suspicion of Christianity when he met other American Indians while attending the University of Central Oklahoma.

      He said some American Indians he encountered considered Christianity to be a "white man's religion." Falls said the experience
      resulted in his own questioning of his faith.

      "I had a time of doubt--a crisis of faith in my life," Falls said.

      He said he eventually reaffirmed his commitment to Christ, but he can identify with the issues that seem to keep many American
      Indians from accepting Christianity.

      Lindsey, 64, said he was introduced to Christ at age 12 when he visited a vacation Bible school at a small rural church in Cromwell.
      He said he soon lost that initial excitement about the Lord, and it wasn't until he was 21 that he reaffirmed his commitment to God.

      Lindsey is part of a new church plant called Indian Community Church that meets Sundays at Northwest Baptist Church, 3030 NW 23.

      He said he has been concerned that Christians have worked with American Indians for so long and the Gospel has not taken root "and
      traveled as it should have" among them.

      He said cultural barriers have proved troublesome. Lindsey said leaders have to find a way to evangelize without trying to strip
      American Indians of many of the things that are part of their cultural identity.

      One of those issues is American Indian dancing. Lindsey said some of the dances are secular in nature.

      "How do we take the Gospel to our Indian people and not try to make them something that God didn't intend them to be? Not all of
      culture is bad," Lindsey said.

      He said leaders witnessing to American Indians should present the Gospel and allow the Lord to change whatever it is that may need
      changing.

      "Our goal is just that the Gospel will flow from one Indian to another Indian and that it doesn't stop."

      Guest speakers for The Gathering include Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, Calif.; Bill Fudge, a former
      regional leader with the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board; Alpha Goombi, a Kiowa and Apache Indian who is a
      Nebraska missionary with the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board; and Jay Jackson, a former New Tribes
      missionary in the Philippines and CEO of Global Empowerment. Others include Grant Lovejoy, the International Mission Board's
      director of Orality Strategies; and Alan Quigley, former Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma evangelist.

      Tyrone Smith, a Creek Indian and minister of music at South Lindsay Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, will lead worship.

      Falls said that through small group discussions and forums with the guest speakers, it is hoped that participants will develop more
      effective ways to connect American Indians to Christ no matter where they live--urban areas or on reservations in rural America.

      "We want to develop bridges into the Native American community."

      Leaders are expected to take what they learn at The Gathering to their respective communities and develop strategies for
      evangelization.

      The same leaders will meet to discuss more ideas April 27-28 in Springdale, Ark.
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