It began with a vision. Eight years ago, I felt called to a time of prayer and fasting. In the middle of the night, I had a vision of a woman pointing to a map and saying, “Bodaway.” It didn’t make any sense. When I got up, I checked google maps and found that the only place in the world with the name Bodaway is a mesa in Arizona. Google maps, however, didn’t show anything there. I then shared the vision with my wife who said we needed to go and check it out. So, we flew to Arizona from our home in California, and drove out to this corner of the world, which is on the Navajo reservation. The mesa is 3-miles off a paved road and there we found lots of sheep and one little white church. We went in and met Pastor Billy, his wife Rose and his sister Joyce – the leaders of the church. The service was uneventful, and we were uncertain that this was the place God was directing us to, but on the way out Joyce, an elderly lady, told us that they have been praying for God to send them someone to help with the children. Later, as our family was pulled off the side of the road, praying for confirmation, we looked up to see Pastor Billy driving by and a rainbow was ending in the back of his pickup truck. This amazed our family and it seemed that God was confirming the vision.
After receiving counsel and encouragement from our church leaders, we planned another trip. My primary hope for the trip was to discover how to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Not knowing what we could do practically, I searched the internet. I learned that people in the area had died from hypothermia the year before because they couldn’t get out to buy coal and food. The few ways that we could help were to deliver Thanksgiving boxes and blankets to families, and organize activities for children. We didn’t know if we had enough money to put together boxes for all the families. We kept returning to the ATM machine for more money, simply whispering a prayer to the Lord for all our needs to be met. We were able to give boxes to all the families and when I returned home, I discovered that we had $1.53 leftover. We had just enough! And $1.53 reminded us of the 153 fish that the disciples caught after casting their nets on the other side of the boat (John 21). Our hopes are made good in Christ.
We visit our friends in Bodaway three to five times a year, delivering Christmas boxes, organizing revival meetings, and running vacation bible schools – we call them sheep camp. I continued to ask the Lord what else we need to do with the realization that we must expand our understanding of ministry in a cross-cultural context. Although it was very challenging, we surrendered to the Lord our house, our properties, and our place of living next to parents and grandparents. We sold our real estate and moved to Kentucky where I enrolled in the intercultural studies program at Asbury Seminary. We left our known home in California, but have been delighted to feel at home in Kentucky. All our hopes are made good in Christ.
Rochelle, our friend, advisor and translator in Bodaway, said that sometimes people have come and helped but then left and were never to be seen again. The poverty in Bodaway is extreme. We can’t meet all of their needs, but Jesus will. What we can give is ourselves. It’s not all about time and money but about presence and place. Our hope is to see a younger generation rise up to lead the local church, to see freedom from addiction and abuse, and to see reconciliation. Sometimes the Navajo that we encounter on our trips have a significant disdain for us – the Anglo. Often on our visits, we experience verbal abuse around town. Yet, some of those who have rejected us in the past are now those who work with us. We have experienced reconciliation, and ultimately, we desire that they be reconciled with God – something we also have been able to witness.
Last Thanksgiving, I led a small team to Bodaway. An old time Fleshy, Kyle, felt impressed by the Spirit that on Sunday God would bless us in a new way. Now, Kyle didn’t know which Sunday. To make matters more complicated, another member of the team who is gifted in preaching is named Sunday. On the third day of our visit, which was Sunday, God moved. Sunday, the preacher, spoke. After the message, we were asked to pray for one of the elderly women in the congregation. Pastor Billy gave us oil for anointing. Then many people came forward, even more were in the pews weeping audibly. One of the biggest surprises was having a rowdy Navajo boy, come forward to lay hands on the elderly with us. He is from a traditional home that resists Christianity, but he joined us in the true worship of our Creator. All our hopes are made good in Christ.
Ken joined Word Made Flesh in 2015. He spent nearly 20 years enjoying various finance roles that specialized in corporate strategy. In 2013, Ken, a fifth-generation-native Californian, moved to Wilmore, Ky., to attend Asbury Theological Seminary. He loves to work outside and worship with his wife and four children. He has served as a church board member, treasurer, and school board member. Ken is deeply committed to WMF’s Christian mission, and serves regularly on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, USA. Ken and his wife, Cindy, live in Versailles, KY, and have four children.
Connect with Ken: email@example.com