Rend Your Hearts and Not Your Garments: Native American Christian Testimonies

Abstract:
"Yet even now," declares the Lord, "Return to me with all your heart...Rend your hearts and not your garments". Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness and relenting of evil (Joel 2: 12-14).

In Old Testament times, before the birth of Jesus Christ, people would tear their garments as an outward sign that they had repented for and turned from their sins. Because Jesus died for our sins, we no longer have to literally tear our clothes to repent for our lives lived apart from God. God is concerned with our hearts not our outward appearance. This paper contains the stories of eight Native American Christians who were touched by God's loving kindness and made the decision to return to their Creator by following His Son Jesus as the Lord of their lives.

Unfortunately many Christians have confused cultural differences with sin, and this has especially been the case with Native American cultures. Too often, Native Americans have been told that their culture is evil and have been told to abandon their language, dress, song and other aspects of culture in order to convert to Christianity. This paper documents the testimonies of distinct individuals who have decided to rend their hearts to God. They are born again Christians who are members of Faith Christian Church, a non-denominational Christian Church, whose mission in part is to reach 3 college students who attend the University of Arizona or Pima Community College with the Gospel.

Each of these individuals, whose testimony is recorded in this paper, also sings with a drum group, who sing in the Southern style of powwow singing, to praise and worship God. The drum group visibly confronts the misconception that one has to be white or pretend to be white to become a Christian. Each of his or her stories is unique and describes the beginning and continuing development of each person's own unique personal relationship with Jesus.

I invite you to consider carefully their testimonies and to reflect on the decisions you have made in your own life to follow or to disobey the call of God on your own life. God has created each of us with a unique Destiny; culture is only one aspect that makes us unique. These young men and women are Native Americans, but first and foremost they are Christians. I have included appendices to explain the following: How to be saved, or how to become a Christian, what Baptism in the Holy Spirit means, and some pertinent information about Faith Christian Church, including the role of the local church, the Vision, and the Mission Statement of the Church.

Author: 

Mary Anne Stack

Chair: 

Tom Holm

Publication: 

thesis

Year: 

2001

Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 S761
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences