Navajo Nation Places Hopes of Stability on Their First Christian President
When Kelsey Bagaye was wrapped with the red, black and white chief's blanket on January 12 this year, more was placed on him than the Presidency of the Navajo nation. The Navajo are hoping Bagaye will break the streak of two successive Presidents that were removed from office as a result of alleged improprieties and constructively address the pressing issues on the largest Native American tribe in the Southwest.
"Presently, more than any other time in the history of the Dine' (Navajo), many people conclude that the Navajo Nation government needs improvement," wrote the publishers of the Navajo Nation government book. It was significant, then, for the Navajo to entrust the office of the Presidency to a man who is unashamed of both his past as an alcoholic and his deep Christian faith.
The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the United States. Its 27,000 square miles make it comparable in size to West Virginia, covering portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Some 230,000 are registered as members of the Navajo Nation, with nearly 170,000 living on the reservation itself.
Begaye was elected on a simple premise: he wants to restore trust to the presidency. Faced with unemployment rates that have soared to 70 percent, Begaye's proposed plan of action included a focus on revitalizing the economy and creating both a Division of Youth and a Division of Housing and Urban Development.
The organizational chart for the Navajo must change, Begaye said. In the "new government, the people are at the top, (tribal employees) are in the middle and I am on the bottom--at the service of all," the Albuquerque Journal reported.
A symbol of the passing of power, the Chief's blanket was placed on Begaye by the interim president, Milton Bluehouse. As the multi-colored garment was placed on him, he turned to face the east--the Navajo direction for prayer.
Karamojong Version of JESUS Film Marks 500th Translation
San Clemente, California
The JESUS Film Project has reported the completion of the Karamojong-language edition of the Jesus Film. While this Ugandan tribe's translation of the film has been instrumental in nearly 35,000 decisions for Christ, it also marks a significant milestone: 500 translations since the film debuted in North American theatres in 1979. They expect to have 520 translations done shortly--with an additional 215 languages in process.
"No one should have to learn another language to understand the greatest news ever told" says Eshelman. In April of this year, JESUS Film project people calculate they surpassed the 2 billion mark of viewers worldwide.
Showings have occurred in 230 nations and territories since the 1979 U.S. premiere of 'JESUS.' Currently, 821 organizations use the evangelistic film, in addition to Campus Crusade for Christ International, which coordinates its international translation and distribution.
JESUS Film Project director Paul Eshleman anticipates an accelerated arrival of future milestones. "We continue to trust the Lord," he comments, "that by the end of the year 2000, the 'JESUS' film will have been shown to every person in the world in an understandable language."
The reaching of such lofty goals has been made more tenable by the release of the 'JESUS' film on digital versatile disk (DVD). With eight audio languages--English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic, Eshelman hopes that the product will be capable of reaching half the world's population in a language they can understand. With the added capability of sub-titles for additional languages and the ability to interface with the Internet for an interactive experience, it may well prove invaluable for both cross-cultural evangelism and ministry within the family.
Caleb Resources to Host Advocate Training Seminar
The Caleb Resources will be offering a three-day seminar providing training on how to be an advocate in your area for an unreached people group. Included in the weekend will be teaching on how to help foster the formation of partnerships and how to help churches adopt a people group. To be held in Denver from December 3 to 5, Caleb Resources will give a clearer understanding of the complexities of the mission task as well as practical, specific plans for action.
E-mail: [email protected]
Wycliffe Embraces Bold Vision for Translations Remaining
Waxhaw, North Carolina
The International division of Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBTI) collectively embraced a vision to have a Bible translation project in progress by the year 2025 for every people group that remains in need of one. This vision was agreed upon at the WBTI triennial Convention in Waxhaw, North Carolina. WBTI also elected a new president--Richard David Hugoniot who has served with Wycliffe in India, Nepal and Indonesia since 1963.
Four Southern Baptist Missionaries Die in Swimming Accident
Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico
A Southern Baptist missionary, his 11-year-old daughter and two summer missionaries died June 18 in a swimming accident on Mexico's southern coast.
Gary Sloan, 37, his daughter, Carla, and summer missionaries John Weems, 21, of Nacogdoches, Texas, and Joy Murphy, 19, of Pelham, Ala., drowned in the ocean near Tapachula, Mexico, where they had gone with Sloan's wife, Gloria, their three other children and three other summer missionaries to celebrate a family birthday.
Sloan, Carla and the five summer missionaries were caught in a strong undertow, said Mike McAleer, another Southern Baptist missionary in Mexico. Although the beach was a familiar swimming spot, the waves were especially high.
When the group realized they were in trouble, they struggled to get back to shore, McAleer said. Carla was overcome by the high surf and knocked from the hands of those who were trying to get her back to the beach.
Sloan, Weems and summer missionaries John Floyd of Crosby, Texas; David Pitts of Wewahitchka, Fla.; and Hannah Carter of Shreveport, La., made it back to shore with Carla's body, but efforts to revive her failed.
At some point, Weems went back into the water to help others get out and was caught in the undertow again, McAleer said. When Sloan saw Weems and Murphy struggling in the water, he went back out to help them. None of them made it back to shore.
Passersby heard the cries for help and tied a rope around one man, who waded out toward the drowning missionaries. The undertow was so strong it not only almost carried him out to sea, but almost pulled in the people holding the rope on shore.
Weems' body had not been recovered as of midmorning Saturday.
The Sloans were appointed as missionaries to Mexico by the International Mission Board in June 1998. A native of Lufkin, Texas, Sloan was pastor of Iglesia Bautista de la Comunidad (Community Baptist Church) in Crosby, Texas, prior to missionary appointment.
They have three other children, Alyssia Lee, born in 1989; Rissa Joy, born in 1992; and Alan David, born in 1995.
Sloan was assigned as a general evangelist to Tapachula, the commercial center of a coffee-growing region at the foot of the Chiapas highlands near the Guatemala border in southeast Mexico. Mrs. Sloan, a native of El Salvador, is assigned to work in church and home outreach.
Sloan and his daughter will be buried in Tapachula. The bodies of the two summer missionaries will be returned to the United States.
The three other summer missionaries will return to the United States.
Pioneers Appoints New Director
Pioneers has announced that Stephen Richardson will serve as Director of Pioneers (USA), replacing John Fletcher. Steve Richardson, son of author and missionary Don Richardson, has served Pioneers with his wife Arlene since 1983, working largely in Indonesia since 1986. Most recently, they spent 18 months in Melbourne, Australia facilitating the recent partnership with two missions that were integrated into Pioneers.
Iguazu Missiological Consultation to Seek International Perspective on Opportunities of the New Millennium
Foz de Iguazu, Brazil
The World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) will be hosting an upcoming "Iguazu Missiological Consultation" in the historic city of Foz de Iguazu in Parana, Brazil. Recognizing what they have called a "tectonic shift in the Church from North to South," they have invited missiologists and mission practitioners from throughout the world to attend the October 10-16 meeting. Central on the agenda will be an effort to hear missions representatives from around the globe provide fresh perspectives on new approaches in contextualized mission and grapple with the challenges posed by Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and secularism.
To date, WEF is expecting some 150 attendees from over 50 nations to attend the meeting. Hopes are that fruit born by such a consultation will include a "Covenant of Iguazu," summarizing the results of the meeting and outlining the implications for the church as it approaches its global mission.
Participants will be circulating the major papers for presentation via E-mail in the months prior to the event. Recognizing that many key mission workers will be unable to attend, WEF is making this electronic communication available for a nominal sum.
In the week preceding the conference, WEF will be convening with a number of Task Forces--including one on strengthening National Missionary Movements (under Met Castillo) and a workshop on Strategic Partnerships hosted by Phill Butler of Interdev.
Contact: William D. Taylor, Executive Director, WEF Missions Commission
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone (USA): 1-512-467-8431; FAX: 1-512-467-2849;
Address: 4807 Palisade Drive, Austin, TX 78731, USA