Jesus Lives as Good Medicine for my People
I am Dakelh from the Bear Clan in Nadleh Whut En, an Athabaskan Carrier tribe in Northern British Columbia, Canada. I was baptized a Catholic and came to a personal faith in Jesus Christ when I was eight years old. My own spiritual journey has led me to be a pastor and recording artist and to attend Bible college and seminary.
I am a “Great Story” teller. It is my desire to re-tell the great story of Jesus Christ, Creator’s Son, who came to walk among us humans, reveal the heart and mind of Creator, die as the cleansing sacrifice for the wrongs of every person, and rise again from the dead. Today, He lives as the Good Medicine for my people. There is healing and forgiveness for anyone who believes and follows Yeshua, Jesus. In one of my songs I quote Thomas a Kempis, “Without the Way we cannot go, without the Truth we cannot know, without the Life we cannot live...,” followed by Native chanting and drumming to the word “Yeshua.”
Although I grew up proud of my Native heritage, there was a time when I felt that my Native cultural expressions were not welcome in the Church, that is, I felt that I was not free to worship Christ in a Native way as a Native person. Fellow Christians and leaders were able to worship Christ in the way and style of the dominant culture of Canada’s music, songs and dances, but the “Indian” way was always suspect. I felt that when I went to church I had to hang my “Indian-ness” at the door like a coat, to be picked up again as I was leaving the church. This dichotomy of being a Native outside of Church and a non-Native inside the Church was distressing to me.
In 1992 I started attending a Foursquare Church with my husband, Randy. It was there that I found a different attitude toward my “Native-ness.” Cultural expressions, songs, wearing of regalia, drumming and dancing were welcome as forms of worship. The first time I met Bryan Brightcloud, the leader of the Foursquare Native pastors and leaders, he was wearing his hair long and in braids. I was encouraged to write Native-style songs, sing and dance. Not long after this, many people from various denominations and churches started “finding” each other. The “moccasin telegraph” works well!
We had Jonathan Maracle and Broken Walls and Richard Twiss at the new church we started in Vancouver, BC. My band of Native singers and dancers, “The New Warriors,” were invited to perform at the “Many Nations, One Voice” conferences sponsored by Wiconi International, where we met and networked with other like-minded people with a similar vision to establish contextualized-style churches and ministry in Indian country. One of the highlights for our family, personally, is to attend the Family Camp and powwow sponsored every summer by Wiconi in Turner, Oregon. Most of our friends in contextualized ministry go there, too, with their families, and it is a wonderful time of fellowship together.
The past decade has seen us establish several more churches through our First Nations Bible College students, including First Nations Church in Los Angeles.We have taken teams of Native drummers and dancers to over 30 countries around the world, sharing the Great Story of Jesus to people of every color.
I have recorded two albums, with a third soon to be released, of my contemporary-style drum songs. My music has been recognized by NAMA (Native American Music Awards—Nammy) and several Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards.
In 2008 our family felt a leading from Creator to leave our pastorate and to go out full-time in itinerant ministry. My family and I now live in a travel motor-home. It is our goal to visit every First Nations community, reserve and reservation in the USA and Canada, 1000 in total. As of the summer of 2010 we have been to just over 300.