Author: Pastor Jerry Park

Here are some updates from our Navajo Nation ministry with the McKellers and Theresa, which include activities from the summer to date.

[July/August] We have not been able to have church meetings, but we are recording Pastor Belinte’s messages to post online to Facebook/YouTube. We have been staying in touch with youth and young adults via calls and texts and are looking to use Facebook Live more frequently for our youth. Due to lockdowns, we cancelled all three summer camps (Young Adult Retreat, Kids and Youth camps) and instead went ahead with a virtual youth camp from July 13-16.

There were two services each day of our online Bita Hochee Youth Camp– at 11am and 4pm. Mark, Gail, Theresa, and our summer intern Taye (a student at Southwestern AG University–American Indian College) did prerecorded videos for daily introductions, contests and challenges for prizes. We had three worship teams and four speakers. In each service, we slotted 20 minutes of worship and 30 minutes for the speakers. The worship and messages were excellent, and we were very pleased. It seemed more than 460 people viewed the services, and we got a good amount of positive feedback from youth, youth leaders and pastors.

Outreaches: In the summer, we received groceries, such as gallons of milk, potatoes, onions, lettuce, yogurt, etc., from Mountaintop AG in Flagstaff. We distributed 11 boxes at the church and delivered 13 more boxes to senior adults in our Indian Wells community—mostly to those on unpaved backroad areas quite a distance from the church and the main highway. In addition, we hosted a food distribution on July 22nd in partnership with Jubilee Ministries of Phoenix. We are happy to report that over 215 families (likely 1,290+ individuals) received nonperishable items that day.

On July 31st, we resumed Friday Night Youth meetings, albeit online. Since not every youth has a device or decent internet at home, we’re not able to connect with nearly as many as we would in person. However, the virtual meetings on Facebook Live have gone well. It’s reasonably interactive and we are asking them a lot about how things are going with school, which began on August 3rd online. The FB Live meetings are a balanced mix of practical help/encouragement, fun, and spiritual guidance from the Word. On Friday, August 28th, we took part virtually as a group in a benefit concert for aid organizations, such as Food for the Hungry; and the youth enjoyed it. They also saw a good demonstration of caring for the less fortunate – a good way to get them thinking about helping others and not being absorbed in their own problems.
Some prayer requests:

  • Pray for the Navajo Nation to continue to move forward in recovering from COVID-19.
  • Pray that we will be able to have “drive-in” Sunday services in October.
  • Pray that more of our youth will take part in the Friday night online youth meetings and that the young adults will be more engaged in the online services and other ministries.
  • Pray that we will be able to move forward in setting up a “Celebrate Recovery” program to deal with the prevalent drug and alcohol addiction problems.
  • Prayer for medical situations and grieving families:
    • Emmett’s sister Rebecca (in rehab after being hit by an automobile).
    • Evelyn’s husband recently died, and she is having a hard time handling the grief.
    • Carmelita’s husband Gary, who has a medical problem with his liver and/or kidneys. (Carmelita is the daughter of Clara, the worship leader.)
    • The niece of Pastor Stanley’s wife Vera, who tested positive for COVID-19: Pauline is recovering in a rehabilitative hospital; her sister Melinda was on a ventilator but passed away.

The Philippines has been one of the hardest hit countries in Southeast Asia with COVID-19, and the government has been very strict with their lockdowns.  For months, churches were shut down, but the Ildefonsos were able to do periodic food distributions as well as virtual online services. However, most of the congregation does not have remote access capabilities, so it has been very hard for many members to stay connected.

Several weeks ago, restrictions eased enough that they have been able to have limited live church services. Attendance has grown each week, and many expressed their gratitude for the church’s reopening. It’s been a challenge trying to balance the needs and safety of the congregation with the relative isolation of many members due to their lack of access and the changing government restrictions.

In the meantime, the church is still sending out food packages to people in the church, community and the prisons.

  • Pray for the safety of the church and community members.
  • Pray for needed provisions for the poorer members, who were already in deeply impoverished situations before the lockdown.

Praise Report: Pastor Moffat recovered from his bout with malaria a few months ago.

Malawi has slowly been reopening, as they appear to have escaped the worst of the infections. Pastor Moffat has been busy with the reopening of their school and more church activities.

Sadly, we received word in July that Pastor Peter Chirwa, one of Pastor Moffat’s early mentors, passed away from complications of diabetes and stomach issues (although the exact cause was unclear). I remember Pastor Peter from the beginnings of our missions to Malawi. He was always a very cheerful and encouraging brother, and I’ve had the privilege of preaching at his church. He will be greatly missed.

  • Please pray for Rosemary’s health, as she continues to battle the effects of her autoimmune disease.
  • Please pray for Pastor Moffat’s health – particularly protection from COVID-19 and full recovery from malaria.
  • Pray for the ministry in Malawi, as the country begins to reopen.