Happy New Year to all of you who partner with us financially and in prayer in serving the Lakota tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The holidays are over and we are back to the normal routine of Rez ministry and life in general. We’re so thankful for all of your support in keeping us here to be able to minister to these beautiful people. We pray constantly for all of you to be blessed, protected, and find all your needs met in Jesus.
I want to elaborate a little on our Christmas celebration on December 8th because I know many of you were praying for that. We spent the weeks leading up filing out every card that would be given to every adult and child coming to the outreach event with words of encouragement and blessing, pointing them to Christ. These would be put in boxes with wrapped gifts for all. The day before the event every member of our church came together to decorate, clean, prepare food, and set up the gym and sanctuary for the celebration. This year our focus has been on church being a true family and that day really felt like it. We even had a few people from the community show up to help out. It was a joyous time.
On the day of the celebration, we also had friends from a church in Denver come as well as our friend and brother in Christ Jaime Asbridge from Rapid City along with several members of the church he’s a part of to help serve the people as well. We are very thankful for those brothers and sisters who gave up their Sunday to come serve the people of the Oglala district of Pine Ridge. It’s so blessed when the body of Christ comes together to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Those along with our local church body and others from the community serving, everything went smoothly. Close to 300 people showed up and all received gifts and were fed along with seeing our children from kid’s church give a gospel presentation. After eating we broke them into groups by age and gender. Each group would go back into the sanctuary to hear the gospel, have the opportunity to respond or receive prayer, and then get their gifts. The little ones saw a gospel video and then heard a short word from me (Elliot). The teenage and older ladies heard a powerful testimony and gospel message from members of our church Jewel Blacksmith and Kate Kindle. Some received the truth with gladness and a small number asked for prayer, while many were hard and resistant unfortunately. The teenage boys and older men heard powerful testimonies from Lewis Crazy Thunder, David Blacksmith and myself. They were hard at first but it wasn’t long before you could see their walls coming down as they began to be touched by God’s presence. Several went up to Lewis at the end and said things like “If you can change then there’s hope for me.” It truly was a great day and I’m honored to have been a part of it. The community was blessed by the event. Thank you so much for your prayers.
Between this month and last, we’ve had several men come up to David Blacksmith and myself after we share the gospel in our jail meetings asking to be visited because they want prayer or simply want to know how to follow Jesus. All have been bound by alcohol and drug addiction. Most have faced abandonment and rejection by family, have been molested or abused, and lost family members and friends due to disease, suicide, or addiction. One young man, in his early twenties, Colton Bagola, has faced all of these except molestation. His mother recently died of a drug overdose and his best friend committed suicide just a few months ago. This caused him to go back to the Meth in order to deal with his pain, which landed him in jail. He wants to get set free so he can be a good father to his 7-year-old daughter and marry her mother. He loves our meetings and the Bible but is confused as to how this works along with the Lakota traditional beliefs. His grandfather was a well-known medicine man that he followed and learned under before he died. He also spent time with a well-known medicine man named Jerome Labeau. After spending time explaining how following Jesus means we trust that what He did on the cross is enough to pay for our sins and make us pure he began to understand that by performing ceremonies and rituals to make us pure, get prayers answered, or commune with spirits we are rejecting what Jesus did for us in trying to do it ourselves. Please pray that Colton is able to make a full decision to follow Jesus. Also pray for Zane Wright and Wilson who just got out last week. Both surrendered to Jesus and we’ve seen positive change in them but they live in different districts that make it difficult for us to meet with them. Pray they connect with a church and stay true to their commitment to follow Christ.
Our meetings have been pretty full consistently for the past few months. That’s close to 30 men in each of the 2 groups we meet with. It’s rare that we are met with outright resistance, but there are occasions when it happens. This week after I spoke about the Second Coming of Jesus and how that can either bring us comfort and hope or fear if we’re not ready, a man in his mid-thirties who’s been attended our meetings for weeks spoke up and said, “Our elders have been on this land long before your elders and they taught us the Lakota way so I’m sticking with that.” I explained how I totally understand that, but I believe it’s wise to never fully believe what is taught to us by people because human beings can always be wrong no matter how old they are. Only God knows all so we must seek Him and pray that He reveals the truth to us. A couple of other men raised hands and shared why they believed Jesus over the Lakota way. One man’s name is Dion Quick Bear and I’m meeting one on one with him this week. The man who spoke up seemed to harden himself even more. Please pray for him and others who resist the truth because they follow traditional religion or as we see with some of the teenagers they let American culture dictate truth.
Our team continues to look to become more unified as a family so you can continue to pray for that. There’s more to share regarding God touching lives in the hospital but I will get to those in our next newsletter.
About Elliot and Crystal Morales
Elliot and Crystal Morales currently live in South Dakota and minister on the Pine Ridge reservation to the Lakota people. They are involved in discipleship, Bible study and jail ministry as well as various other things including working with the local church.