While I wrote my farewell article in mid-August, I thought I’d share the first Communication Lines I wrote here at Navajo Ministries from Sept. 24, 2008. Enjoy the trip back in time … Eric.
It was a quiet moment on a pleasant late-summer afternoon. This was no run-of-the-mill location, though. I was standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, admiring God’s wonderful creation – and thanking Him for what He has done in my life.
Just the second week into my new job as Director of Development at Navajo Ministries, I spent most of last week with travelers from Alabama, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Farmington as we toured Navajoland. Growing up in Farmington, I had seen some of the beautiful sites right here in our own backyard, but had never taken a true journey through the unforgettable Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Ministries Fall Tour of Navajoland, led by Jim and Kay Baker and Navajo missionaries Joe and Gerri Begay, was really a trip of a lifetime for me and many of the other tour participants. The people who went on the tour were asked to give their highlights of the trip, which covered about 1,000 miles of some of most magnificent country in the United States, during a final breakfast event in Farmington on Sept. 20. As the recorder was passed around the table, everyone could have spent an hour or more each recounting the experiences – and laughs shared. Instead, we tried to keep it short, while a few tears fell during the realization that our time together was about to end.
Some thought the devotions at the Grand Canyon rim as we watched the sunset was the top moment. We sang songs, heard Bible verses and enjoyed the fellowship of a group that was getting closer each day. Others who were not part of our group actually joined in the singing as they passed by; some were simply curious and wondered why we were singing. It all seemed like the perfect thing to do – praising God as the sun set over the massive Grand Canyon.
The laughter, prayers and good times we shared on this trip were all so memorable. We saw the Four Corners Monument, Canyon de Chelly, Window Rock, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Monument Valley and, yes, the Grand Canyon. Many times I heard members of our group say “You’ve got to see this to believe it.” They were also amazed to see how Navajo people live on the reservation – many of them miles from electricity, running water or a store of any kind.
Joe and Gerri, who live in Chinle, Ariz., were able to give them valuable insight into the lives of the Navajo. They are indeed a proud people with a rich culture and history. And, yes, Christianity is growing in the Navajo Nation, thanks to the likes of Joe and Gerri Begay. The testimony of Joe and Gerri that they gave in Flagstaff was powerful, and truly showed what God can do in the most difficult situations. Today, they pastor their own church in Chinle and continue to share the message of the Gospel wherever they can.
Honestly, the entire trip was a highlight for me. Being new to Navajo Ministries, I am in awe on a daily basis of the work being done here, along with the people who call this place home. I’m so thankful that God has led me here to work in such a terrific organization.
Yes, the Navajoland journey was a trip of a lifetime for all of us. Kay warned the group we would become like family by the end, and she was right. Even though we saw some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth, the tour participants admitted no experience could top their time with the children at the homes on the Navajo Ministries campus near the end of the tour. I’ll let some of their words speak for them:
I feel in my heart from what I’ve seen is that precious children are being taken care of the best they can be here, and that’s the most important thing …I hope and feel they will be loved . – Frances Mitchell, Greensboro, Alabama.
In our visit with the children and staff last night we got a feel for the whole mission here. It gave us an appreciation of what God can do. – Tom Muehling, Willow Street, Pennsylvania.
God bless all of you and keep on serving the Lord and doing what you are doing for the children. It’s very important work, and we’ll be thinking about you more than ever. – Gladys Dunkin, Marion, Alabama.
Those are just a few of the many thoughts shared about the work being done at Navajo Ministries. From the radio station, the Counseling Center, the Four Corners Home for Children and beyond, God is at the center of the work being performed here.
I plan to return to the Grand Canyon with my family next year. When I look at the great expanse of God’s creation then, I’ll remember the great people who ventured with me to Navajoland to witness the beauty of the scenery, and the beauty of a place that continues to provide service, hope and restoration to local families.
God Bless, Eric Fisher