Steadfast in Scottsbluff: An Unwavering Love for the Lord and the Lakota
By Carl Stagner
Louise Deines is ninety-eight years old. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to love the Lord and the Lakota people. Her ministry through the Church of God in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has stretched fifty years across both seasons of challenge and blessing. Though she was never ordained as a minister, her ministry of presence, teaching, and encouragement has proved vital to home missions in the region. While her qualifications could have taken her anywhere, her heart is with Native American ministry in Scottsbluff. Accolades aren’t what matter to Louise, though she was recently honored for fifty years of home missionary service. What really matters to Louise is love.
When asked what has kept her going all these years, Louise doesn’t skip a beat. “Of course, it’s Jesus,” she explains. Such a simple answer might seem cliché to some, but to Louise, it means the world. At the age of thirteen, she attended a revival where H. M. Riggle extended the invitation to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. She did, and she’s never been the same since. Jesus isn’t just a revered name to Louise; he is her everything.
“Jesus is the one who helped me through many difficult times,” she reflects. “The Lord is so good, and he is the one I depend upon. I couldn’t make it without him.”
Even as she shared these words in a recent interview, Louise clearly communicated her devotion to God. “Today, we’re fasting and praying for the Scottsbluff church and the needs they have,” she explains. “I’ve been kind of overwhelmed at times, so if I’m a little weepy, don’t worry about it.” Her tender heart not only demonstrates a life changed by Christ, but also shaped by her experiences in a culture desperately searching for hope.
“I love the Lakota people,” she explains. “I want to see them become Christians, and that’s enough of a motivation right there. Many of them claim to be Christians, but their lives don’t show it. They go more by traditions and culture. It’s hard to reach them, but I’ve learned quite a bit. Maybe I’ve learned a little more patience and love.”
It may be hard to imagine someone like Louise needing to learn more love. But after nearly a hundred years on this earth, she recognizes she’s still not done growing. “Of course, I can’t do anything worthwhile without having love for others,” she explains. Way back when she served under Pastor Earl Bailey, a home missionary for the Church of God, she was motivated by love. When someone needed a ride, she was there. When the church needed a worship leader, she was there. When the church was without leadership, she was there—and continued to arrange for guest ministers to preach the Word of God. Her heart for children was evident, as well, in her creative teaching, both at church and at the elementary school. If there was a need, Louise Deines didn’t need to think twice. Sacrificing her own comfort, she did what needed to be done.
Kay Critser, who serves alongside Sherman Critser as operations directors for Native American Ministries and pastors of the Intercultural Chapel, describes Louise Deines in five words: “A woman of deep faith.” This depth of faith, lived out in a life of love, has overflowed into those around her.
In early July, Louise was given those accolades she never sought to receive. Humbly, she accepted cards, gifts, and words of appreciation from those on whom she’d made an impact over the years. One of those gifts was a very special star blanket made by a Lakota woman from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
To those who follow after Louise, she offers some encouragement. “You first need to fall in love with Jesus,” Louise explains. “Let him guide you. If you fall in love with Jesus, and have a love for whatever you feel God is calling you to do, whether working with a different culture or nationality, you’ll do well. Be completely his and fully committed to whatever he wants you to do. Follow his guidance, and you’ll have victory in Jesus.”
Invest in Native American Ministries at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, through the leadership of Sherman and Kay Critser. Give online at https://give.jesusisthesubject.org/default.aspx?tsid=8168&fund=188953. Or, mail your donation to Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018. Be sure to write Project #43.54364 on the memo line. Thank you!