Navajoland, Navajoland, here we come! The year was 1980: what an eventful year that was for Linda Hill and me, Larry Bomberger. Linda and I graduated from Messiah College, Pa., May of 1980 – Linda with an Elementary Education Degree and me with a Behavioral Science Degree with minors in Christian Education and Recreation. We got married June 28, 1980.
Linda and I had discussed the eventual “call” to serve as missionaries to Native Americans as soon as God would allow – we prayed that God would open doors for we had been told by numerous Mission Boards that as newlyweds we would just have to wait.
We arrived back to our little apartment in Leola, Pa., from our honeymoon, and that very evening we received a phone call from the Brethren in Christ Mission’s Director wishing to meet with us about a possible assignment to Navajo Brethren in Christ Missions (BIC Mission) in Otis, New Mexico.
The door we had been praying for had just “opened” and now it was time for us to step out in faith and “MOVE”! August 1980, we packed up our car and a small U-Haul and headed west. Linda had never been west of the Mississippi; thus, she was thoroughly excited about our journey.
We had been asked to become teachers at the Mission school: Linda teaching a class of 3rd and 4th graders, and me teaching kindergarten as well as becoming the youth pastor, directing the Community Center located on the mission property. Upon our arrival to BIC Mission, I immediately visited motor vehicle to change our address to New Mexico, for I had learned that the youth truly saw the “Anglo missionary” as taking a two-year vacation to Navajoland and then returning to Pennsylvania. We wanted “our new neighbors” to know that we were “home” and only God could move us elsewhere.
Our two-year term turned into a four-year assignment. During our four years at Navajo BIC Mission we oversaw the closure of the mission school, for the BIA had opened DZ School and the need for the mission school had declined. Linda and I knew it was time for us to move on from our mission assignment, yet felt strongly that God still wanted us to remain in Navajoland – What is Next God?
I reminded our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, as well as our extended families on the east coast, that God had called us Navajoland and that even though the school had closed; and other doors had closed, only God could move us – and until then we would remain faithful to “His Call” and we would continue our ministry in New Mexico!
After much prayer; God in His timing opened up “His Door.” I took a position with the City of Farmington, July 31, 1984.
Linda and I continued to travel the 100-mile round trip each weekend to BIC Mission Church to fellowship with our Navajo brothers and sisters for two more years. At that time, we were seen as anomaly, since no other missionaries had resigned from the Mission yet still remained in the area to fellowship! With the birth of our second daughter, we officially resigned from our lay-positions at the Mission Church – yet we remain close to many over the past 30-plus years.
As young missionaries, we had the pleasure of meeting Jack Drake, and held him in high esteem, and looked at him as a Missionary Giant, as well as a mentor. Then when I became the Senior Citizens Administrator for the City of Farmington in 1988, God blessed me with the opportunity to be able to “serve” Jack and Betty Drake. I found it such a blessing to be able to move Jack Drake off the pedestal that I placed him on, and become “his friend.” Yes, Jack still remained a mentor of mine, but in a whole new and wonderful relationship!
So, when Jim Baker contacted me, now over 10 years ago to consider becoming a Board Member for then Navajo Mission (or as we fondly referred to it as “Jack Drake Mission”), I was honored to accept “the call!” Shortly after my assignment, I accepted the position of Board Chairman, which I still presently hold.
Navajo Ministries has “walked” through some difficult days, with the recession that has afflicted our nation’s economy. Yet, the Ministry has remained steadfast in its “Call”: Proverbs 11:25; “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”
I have had the wonderful pleasure of seeing how God provided and led us through the transition of Jim and Kay Baker’s move to part-time roles, and Eric Fisher’s appointment as the Ministry’s third President.
As Chairman of the Board, I continually have to lean on Proverbs 3: 5- 6; “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge HIM and He will be faithful to direct our footsteps.”
We do not always see where the dollars will come from to continue the GOD-lead Ministries: Four Corners Home for Children, Vertical Radio, After-School Program, and Navajo Nation Outreach. However, we the Board and Staff remain faithful to a Christ-Centered, God-First Ministry: Knowing and Believing that God will provide – and guess what, GOD Has; Does; and Will Continue, for it is HIS Ministry not ours!