"Hello, I'm Monte Church and welcome to my camp."
With these words of welcome, Monte Church, Northwest and Canada Native Ministries director and Native storyteller, begins a new program, "God's Scouts," in the Native New Day series of video Bible studies. Filmed in nature, these videos cover topics found in the "Book of Heaven," answering questions on spiritual matters often asked by Native people.
"Nature is the second book of God's love and caring," says Carlos Pardeiro, owner of the NC Production Company and series producer, "and most humans on Earth are moved by various aspects of nature, whether it is a beautiful starry night, the power of the ocean, the beauty of a sunrise or the flight of an eagle. All these things become a bridge between humanity and divinity. Using the object lessons we derive from nature brings us to the knowledge of a loving, caring God."
The concept for the Native New Day video series came to Monte when he visited an isolated village near Inuvik in the Northwest Territories of Canada more than a decade ago. While walking through the village, he was stopped by people asking him for Christian videos. He did not have any but his mind started spinning and the idea was born.
Because he is a Native American of Mohican decent, Monte has a tremendous burden to reach out to Native people. He says, "We have learned to understand the Native mind. We have learned what it takes to get close to Native people and gain their trust and now these videos are a powerful tool that is helping us to reach them spiritually."
Another tool that works hand in glove with the video is the Native New Day Bible correspondence course, which is available from the Voice of Prophecy. These lessons are advertised during the "commercial" breaks in the videos. The topics in both the lessons and videos cover the basic teachings of the Bible and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They are evangelism presented in a low-key approach. They are simple and Native friendly. The programs are not designed to give all of the details of the doctrines but are a bridge between those who do not know God and His church and those who have become a part of it.
"There are a lot of elements that go into winning a person and the most effective way these videos and lessons are used is by a member giving the studies. It's not only the person who is giving the Bible studies and it's not only the material they use; it's also the acceptance of the church members to which the people come. It all has to work together. The bottom line is that nothing gets done in this work unless it's a one-on-one situation," says Monte.
Brenda Rau, a dental hygienist in Dillingham, Alaska, and her husband Rod who teaches fifth- through eighth-grade in the church school, fly their airplane to Ekwok every Sabbath for church. Ekwok is a little Native village of about 70 permanent residents located on the Nushagak River about a 25-minute flight from Dillingham.
The Raus were told that there were people in Ekwok who wanted Bible studies. "It took us a long time to get up our nerve to go but we wanted to do it and the Lord helps us," she says. "But we are consistent every Sabbath. We fly out to the village after Sabbath School in Dillingham because we want to visit in the homes of the people for an hour and a half before church in the afternoon."
They have church in the city hall which includes the jail, post office and police department. Depending upon what is going on in the village, as few as two or as many as 14 people show up for church.
"We use the Native New Day DVDs and they are awesome—so appropriate for the village," she says. "It is what they can relate to, and we truly enjoy using them. We have not been able to figure out their response to the videos because the people are so non-verbal but they keep coming to see them every Sabbath."
"It is hard when you add this mission project to your life. Everyone is busy, but we want to give; we want to share the Gospel and the Lord gives us the energy. We pray that everyone will have a mission spirit."
"All of the Native people who have been baptized have come into contact, one way or another [whether it is the inception of their interest or the consummation] with these videos," Monte says. "They are a tool that the people who work in Native Ministries needed and they use them heavily. These videos have been a very effective vehicle."
While individuals can purchase the DVDs, these programs are also broadcast on the satellite channels of Safe TV and the Hope Channel and beginning in January 2008 will be broadcast on the networks servicing most all of the Native villages in the far North. For information about or to order the Native New Day DVD series, call (888) 777-9392.