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My People Will Not Listen to You

by Samara Smyer

U.S. missionaries with Intercultural Ministries John and Gay Davis have watched many of the Native American men and women they have taught enter into ministry. One man, a Lakota Native American named Samuel*, was in a course Gay was teaching about the Gospels. One day after class, Samuel told Gay that he would take notes on what she taught each week and reteach the information the next night in his Bible study. “My people need what you have but they will not listen to you,” he told her. “But they will listen to me.”


“We are in a location that is very spiritually attune. The church is alive; revival is happening,” says John. In general, however, “Christ-believing Native Americans are a small minority with even fewer pursuing ministry.”


John and Gay have ministered at Lumbee River Christian College since 2013. Located in North Carolina, this college works to provide an education to local Native American men and women with programs of study in Christian education, pastoral ministry, and missions ministry. John and Gay help fulfill this mission by teaching a variety of ministerial training courses, as well as teaching seminars at surrounding churches. They also involve themselves in students’ lives as John acts as the Vice President of Student Life, and Gay oversees the school’s cafeteria and acts as the school’s Director of Assessment.


“The students come to God around age 30 after the Lord delivers them from a life of crime or drug addiction,” says John. “Then they feel the call of God on their lives and come to the college around age 40. We hope that, by the time we retire, we can replace ourselves with Native American men and women.”


The Davises work diligently to teach their students about the importance of reading the Bible for comprehension and train them how to extract truth from Scripture rather than simply taking what they hear in sermons as ultimate truth.


At a revival service, John and Gay were sitting by Danny*, a student who God rescued from a life of violence and drug addiction. The speaker preached that, if a person was not reading the original King James translation of the Bible, they could not be a Christian. Danny spent the night in distress. In the morning, he went to Gay in a panic, asking if this was true and if he was not truly saved. 


“The next day, my English class turned into a class on Bible translation,” says Gay. She pulled three translations from the school’s student recourses, set them in front of Danny, and asked him, “Do you think we would give you these Bibles if they would prevent you from being a Christian?” He shook his head, saying no, he did not think so. Now Danny is in ministry and speaks at different churches, using a variety of Bible translations.


Despite hardships, the Holy Spirit is visibly working in the Davises’ ministry. “We see healings, prophecies, salvations, and miracles,” John says. Yet, with the vast majority of Native American people across the nation having minimal or no connection to Christianity, the work is not done. “They need all the training they can get. That is why we are here, to do our best to fulfill that need for training.”


*Names have been changed for privacy

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