Team Asia’s first ministry trip is in the books! We packed our superhero costumes and kids ministry expertise in our bags and hit the road to the Pine Ridge Reservation. It’s sure funny how a drive down the road can completely change our perspectives.
“I’ve lived just two hours away from Pine Ridge the last five years of my life and I had no idea what all went on there!”
We quickly discovered that, in Wanblee, real life superheroes wear cowboy hats and steel toed work boots. At least that’s how we saw our hosts Gus and Terry Craven — US Missionaries and TBC alumni. God has given them a beautiful plot of land in the middle of the reservation which they have appropriately named, “The Glory Ranch.”
We worked a lot to help Pastor Gus with projects on the Glory Ranch and one student joked, “ Not all of those Glory Ranch projects were so glorious!” Tearing down moldy sheetrock, weeding and mowing the grass, replacing old run down fencing, and even pounding in a new cattle gate complete with giant steer head! Needless to say we worked hard and learned a lot! We ended up needing our work boots more than our superhero costumes, but the team was able to see the value in trading our superhero capes for hammers and hoes.
“Every little task we completed, was another small step of bringing God glory. Although pulling weeds didn’t seem very glorious at the time, seeing kids sit and hear the gospel message on ground that was once littered with weeds reminded us of the bigger picture.”
“I learned a lot on this trip and got to know my team better. God kept reminding me of this verse “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).” He kept reminding me that when I was uncomfortable and unsure of what to do sometimes, he could use me in my weaknesses. While fencing, weeding, and ranching definitely fell into the category of our weaknesses, God still used them to minister to the people of Pine Ridge.” - Kandice
Eventually, we got to pull out our superhero costumes and have some fun with the kiddos while letting them know about the greatest superhero of all time, Jesus. We spent 3 nights sharing personal stories about how we know Him to be our Savior, Healer, Redeemer, Rescuer, Transformer, and Friend. The children’s stories about spiritual and material poverty were hard to take in, but there is a bright light in the midst of the darkness in Wanblee. That light is displayed through the ministry of Gus and Terry Craven. We are thankful for the opportunity we had to partner together and minister to the children and their families. God used us to show his love through various ministries… even our superhero capes.
“Our hosts have a powerful and bold ministry that I will never forget!” was echoed in one way or another by every student on our team.
Wanblee is certainly no big metropolis, less than 1,000 people reside there. Yet, once a year people from no less than two dozen states drive for hours upon hours and set up camp in Wanblee to volunteer at a community Harvest Party. Throughout the week we worked to prepare for the big day and on Saturday the bigger picture came into clear focus. Hundreds from the community came in to enjoy the Harvest Party complete with zip lines, archery, free food, hayrides, games, a rock climbing wall, and the Good News message: “God loves them so much and has big plans for their lives.”
Needless to say the community was blessed and so was Team Asia. Here is what a few said about their time there:
“This trip was truly an eye-opener for me! One night I sat down to dinner with a couple of kids from the reservation … Their lives sounded pretty tough to me, they told me about drug use and physical abuse in their families, and they told it to me like it was completely normal; I was speechless! They taught me about joy. They were happy in increasingly dark circumstances and I felt the need to pray constantly for the darkness that surrounds this community.”
“I’ve been on a trip before where we were there to help and teach those we were around, but that felt like a temporary solution. I knew that once we left life would probably go back to normal for most of those people. Our trip to Pine Ridge didn’t feel like that. I knew that after we left Pastor Gus and Eagle Nest church would still be shining a light in that community.”
“It was an incredible opportunity and allowed me to do so much more than I thought. I did not expect to be working on a ranch all week and was very well pleased with how it turned out. I loved being able to see dads ride horses with their little ones and kids and parents come out of their comfort zone to do so.”
“The Pine Ridge Reservation trip was a very exciting and new experience for me. It was my first missions trip to ever go on and a whole new experience of how people on the reservation live. The team all worked great together and even though we were challenged in certain areas, we had the opportunity to get out of our comfort zones and grow, learn, work hard, share Jesus with others, and grow closer as a team (or what I like to call them, my PYB family). Yes, in just two short months we have already become a family and I can’t wait to see what God does in and through Team Asia and our PYB year.”
Why would people from all over the US travel hours upon hours to some little blip on the map in South Dakota? Why would they do manual labor for people they’ve never met and smile the whole time they’re doing it? I think there’s only one answer — the Spirit of God. I believe God is drawing them here because He has big plans for the small population of Wanblee.
Please be in Prayer for this community. Pray that God would strengthen those sent to work the fields, and other would feel the call to minister in Reservations like this one.