Thursday, November 11, 2010

Smoke Signals: latest newsletter

Latest newsletter from Wiconi

from Richard Twiss

Hau Kola "hello friend",

I became a lifetime "million miler" on Delta Airlines and will have logged 130K miles this year alone as I have traveled far and wide with one simple desire and calling: discovering how Jesus helps us become better human beings as we live out our faith with Him in community with others. It then becomes our privilege to join the Creator to serve our neighbors, striving for justice for all and communicating the Good News with love and courage in the power of the Spirit.

This year is packed with stories of hope and blessing from people who have responded to me and our staff with grateful hearts. A man wrote to me recently, "I wanted you to know that the wisdom I have gained, and continue to gain from your words and actions has been integral to my faith journey. Creator's wisdom, passed through you, has also become integral to the faith of many people I have shared it with."

By the grace of God we have never accomplished so much with so little! As I reflect on our humble efforts and the disproportionately sizable positive impact, I am reminded of Jesus and the loaves and fishes. I don't' know how we did it. Seriously. The coming year grows imminently larger, pregnant with possibilities; new partnerships, people needing a reason to hope, volunteers and programs being imagined and stuff we can't predict in a zillion years.

To be sure there have been setbacks, great disappointments and loss. Lingering problems that don't seem to heal, especially conflicts, frustrate me. I wonder why finances are always so tight. I get peeved fighting against religions institutional territorialism and cultural dynamics of power and privilege. Yet, I never waver in my faith in Jesus and the hope that lies within.

As December 31st approaches, you may be making difficult decisions about your year-end contributions. In talking with many of you, your available funds are stretched and your requests have never been greater. A dilemma you have seriously and earnestly prayed over. Having visited my friends in South Africa and seeing first hand their great work, I know there are many deserving and reputable organizations doing great work in Africa, India, Mexico and other parts of the world, including our marginalized populations here in the U.S.  I would like to ask, however, are there Native North American organizations that you currently support?

Our people are the marginalized and forgotten tribal people in our own country, who are typically among the last to be considered for support. Yes, giving overseas often seems more worthy, exotic, even effective. While there are a variety of reasons for this, the fact remains that serving our Native communities in the Spirit of Jesus is always among THE most under-resourced in the country!

In our Native communities we work under the weight of 500 years of colonialism. I need you to understand the heart of our Creator for the Host People of the land you and I call America. Those Creator placed here before everyone else.  

Yes, we need your financial partnership and faith-filled prayers, but we want you to consider Jesus' invitation to love like a friend - to become our friend and walk with us as the First Nations people in your city, town, neighborhood, and region.

Thank you for reading, praying, giving and your friendship!

Peace, your Lakota brother, friend and follower of the Jesus Way,

Richard Twiss
Wiconi International

For an honest, heart-wrenching and dramatic perspective on some of the issues I am referencing from my fathers reservation in South Dakota, check out this pictoral essay. click here to watch.

Tribal Leaders Prayer Breakfast
This Monday, November 15th we convene our 3rd Annual National Tribal Leaders Prayer Breakfast at the NCAI Conference in Albuquerque. We are gaining favor and credibility as a good place for encouragement and support of traditional cultural and spiritual values. It is our hope that it grows every year and serves to launch other breakfasts on reservations and urban centers around the country. Details are being finalized to launch a quarterly breakfast in Portland after the first of the year (TBA). Wiconi carries the financial and organizational weight of hosting these historic gatherings. Our budget for Albuquerque is only $2400.00, yet we still need partners to help us reach the goal. Click here to partner with us! Pilamaya.
World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People (WCGIP)
Indigenous people are preparing to make the journey to New Zealand as guests of the host people of the land, the Maori, for the 8th WCGIP, January 9-16, 2010. EARLY BIRD pre-registration prices are still available!!  Click here for details.
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Our Pursuit of Indigenous Theological Scholarship
Some twenty years ago we began meeting and dreaming about the day when our Native people would emerge as scholars, professors and authors in addressing the theological and missiological challenges of our day from a Native worldview perspective, versus a Euro-centric one. That day is upon us!
  1. This week I will successfully defend my doctoral dissertation at Asbury Theological Seminary to receive a Doctor of Missiology in Inter-cultural Studies. I will join Dr. Randy Woodley and Dr. Cheryl Bear as the most recent in our community to receive post-graduate degrees with four more following. It's been a six year journey for me - woohooo!!
  2. In February, NAIITS in partnership with George Fox Seminary/University, will launch the first ever "Masters of Arts Degree in Inter-Cultural Studies" program where all classes are written by, taught by and administrated by an all-Native faculty! Historic!If you're interested in enrolling in the program or need more info click here.
I have been in the middle of this great adventure from the beginning and Wiconi International has been a leading voice for change, equality, reconciliation and a better way of living out and communicating the good news of Jesus in our Native communities and world!
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