Stewardship Strengthens Ministry, Weather or Not
By Carl Stagner
Stewardship is a vital component to the task of transforming culture by being the body of Christ. The strategic value Live—practicing whole-life stewardship by surrendering our every resource to God (Matt 6:33)—describes this value as encompassing more than our finances. When we understand that every resource we have belongs to God in the first place, our perspective of material possessions is renewed. When a church has the opportunity to increase efficiency and direct more resources to ministry, stewardship is practiced at its best. Recently, Wounded Knee Church of God on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota harnessed the power of the weather to free up ministry dollars for maximum impact.
On the Pine Ridge Reservation, the wind is as dependable as an afternoon thundershower in the Amazon. Just five years ago, Pastor Stanley Hollow Horn, of the Wounded Knee congregation, looked into the possibility of using the wind to offset energy costs for the church. The church facility, which is heated during the bitterly cold winters and cooled in the sometimes stifling summers, racks up quite an energy bill. Installing a wind turbine on the property was never more appealing, yet seemingly beyond reach.
Kathy Naugle, of River of Joy, an organization that ministers to Native Americans, recounts the divine involvement necessary to bring such a goal to fruition. “It was a ‘God thing.’ When Pastor Stanley expressed his dream of a wind turbine, I had not yet retired from NASA as an administrative officer. At the time, I was sharing an office with NASA’s number one engineer on wind turbines, so, although none of the River of Joy team are highly technical, we had instant access to an expert.” Kathy explains that this expert, Dr. Viterna, helped them choose the most efficient model to fit the needs of the Wounded Knee congregation.
After analyzing the costs of this major project, the ministries raised some funds, but not nearly enough to install the turbine. By God’s grace, this hurdle was crossed when the Christian supplier of the turbine agreed to donate the unit. Installation was still a major barrier to completing the project, and the economic downturn made the preparation for this task less than easy.
“That’s where the Church of God stepped in and made it happen,” Kathy explains. First Church of God (Wauseon, Ohio) and several other Church of God congregations, along with River of Joy, came together to donate the funds necessary to install the wind turbine. “It was truly miraculous,” she reflects.
Funds that would have gone to pay energy bills can now be used for ministry. Kathy explains that the social problems on the reservation are great, and include unemployment, housing, alcohol abuse, suicide, disease, and more. “Pastor Stanley and Sylvia are called upon often to help in any way they can.” The wind turbine is expected to produce energy savings that will allow the ministry focus to be on transforming the culture on the Pine Ridge Reservation, rather than on keeping the bills paid. Pastor Stanley anticipates at least a 50 percent reduction in energy bills.
Biblical stewardship at Wounded Knee is transforming their ministry and allowing the congregation to live as God intended. Please continue to pray for the salvation and discipleship of the Native Americans in and around Wounded Knee, and that their needs will continue to be met so ministry can thrive.
To learn more about the Native American Ministries of the Church of God, click here.