This spring, Pastor Darren Scruggs of Hosanna Highlands campus ministry in Mankato led a group of college students on a leadership development trip to the LCMS Crow Lutheran Ministry in Lodgegrass, MT. His account of that experience highlights some of the joys and challenges of reaching out across cultures for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ...
“What do you need?”
It seemed like a genuine question…and it was.
But Pastor Dan Jacobs of the LCMS Crow Lutheran Ministry reacted with a response that seemed harsh.
“We don’t need anything,” he told Cindi Jo.
Cindi Jo was leading a high school mission trip in Lodgegrass, MT, where Pastor Dan holds weekly youth group gatherings. She had just met briefly before the group was preparing to leave when Cindi Jo had asked that simple, yet provocative question:
“What do you need?”
It was some time after the students had returned home when Cindi Jo received a letter from Pastor Dan. In it he shared what the reservation Crow people did need:
“What we need is people ‘out there’ to understand us; to understand our history, to understand our communities, to understand our ministry. From that a mutual relationship of the Body of Christ can grow, for both sides have strength and weakness to share.”
Those conversations set into motion a partnership between Hosanna Lutheran Church and the Crow Lutheran Ministry. The opportunity to go and get to know the Crow people in Lodgegrass was offered to MN State University Mankato students who attend Hosanna Highland, a satellite site of Hosanna Lutheran Church.
Over the MSU spring break, 12 students and 4 leaders traveled to Lodgegrass for the simple purpose of getting to know the Crow people and their community.
How do you do something like that? How do you just drop into a community and begin listening to people? Initially, it felt awkward. I remember the first morning a group of us walked to the grocery story to pick up a newspaper, hoping we might begin a conversation with community members. “Hello” seemed hard to say; but we discovered that people were appreciative of our effort to hear their stories…to know their struggles…to give them a voice. Jesus shows His care for people that way, too. With the woman at the well, with Zacchaeus. With me, with you.
We were blessed to make many new friends and to learn much about the Crow culture and history. For many of us, our comfort zones were challenged. For all of us, our stereotypes were challenged.
Pastor Dan gave us a tour of the community and the ministry sites. He also gave us a new heart for a people forgotten and marginalized. It is just what we needed.
By God’s grace, we will visit them again next year.
“As our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians...” (Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther, 1520)
live Christ love others let’s go! +Pastor Darren