GIVING LIFE AMONG THE LAKOTA
By John Johnson
The Lakota people are generous, hospitable, and kind. These qualities make ministry on the Pine Ridge Reservation a delightful, though challenging, experience. Tim and Kim Wardell love and respect the Lakota people and learn from and serve them wholeheartedly. However, the Lakota people have been literally swamped by alcoholism and drug abuse. Suicide is tragically common. The Pine Ridge Reservation has the highest rate of poverty of any region in the United States. The result is hopelessness. And this hopelessness is pervasive.
Tim and Kim Wardell relationally serve these generous and dignified people through one-on-one discipleship, Alcoholics Anonymous, grief recovery, self-help work projects, youth outreach, and a faithful proclamation and demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, one memory is burned in my own memory.
Shortly after arriving in Allen, Gwen and I were invited by Tim and Kim to visit the home of an elderly women who had fallen and severely injured her leg. We stopped by to find out if there was any way they could serve her. A lively conversation ensued. Before leaving Tim leaned over the woman’s wheelchair and gave her a hug. “I love you, mom,” he said. She in turn raised her face to his and planted a big kiss on his cheek. “I love you, too,” she replied.
Tim and Kim Wardell serve as Church of God missionaries in Allen, South Dakota, among the Lakota people. This ministry involves pastoring the Pass Creek Church of God and hosting a regular calendar of workcamps, but it is so much more than that. Ministry in the name and style of Jesus among the Lakota people requires everything that the Wardells have.
John Johnson is the Native American and Disaster Relief Ministries coordinator for Church of God Ministries. Learn more about Native American Ministries at www.jesusisthesubject.org/native-american-ministries.