Spokane Central Christmas Program Reaches Native Americans

February 09, 2016 | Kathy Marson

Reaching Native Americans for Jesus is what All Nations Warriors for Christ at Spokane Central Adventist Church does in a variety of ways and most recently through their Christmas program.

They began holding a Christmas program for Native American families in 2004 with 50 people in attendance. The event grew and grew, and, in 2013, 250 people attended. The program was canceled due to lack of funds, but this year they determined to hold the Christmas program including a Native taco meal and presents for the children.

Members began in June to raise funds through yard sales and a car wash. They also had a sharing tree in the church, which brought in more than 40 gifts. Church members offered to make the fry bread, enchiladas and Spanish rice. By God’s grace, fundraising and monthly donations, the church family was able to hold the Native American Christmas program.

The team advertised with flyers at the American Indian Community Center and local clinic and used the Internet and word of mouth. Ninety children and 110 adults came to the event, which was held in the church fellowship hall.

The Native children loved dressing in Bible costumes to stage an impromptu nativity scene. Everyone sang Christmas carols with gusto, and each child received a present. Ten presents were awarded to adults in attendance by drawing names.

Those who attended to the Christmas program were given a chance to share what additional ministries they were interested in. Fourteen indicated they would enjoy a health fair this spring, and 18 would like to receive a Native health magazine. Twenty-four are interested in children’s programming, and 25 requested Bible studies. Spokane Central Church members are excited to follow up on these interests.

The Spirit-filled duo of Loretta Kern and Denise Ellenwood worked behind the scenes to put on the special program. Kern is particularly committed to Native American work and helping children know Jesus. Even before she had accepted Jesus in her heart, she brought her children to church.

For this Christmas program, Kern handed out flyers on busses and wrapped all the presents. She also holds a Native American Bible study and helps at the Better Living Center food bank.

Kids are automatically drawn to Kern. Nine neighborhood children come to Spokane Central Church. They asked Kern to sit with them at the potluck. One asked her who was in the picture on the wall. When he learned it was Jesus, he asked, “Who is Jesus?” Kern told him the story.

That day, the pastor talked about God during the sermon, and one child asked Kern, “Is God in this place?” Once, when Kern asked a little girl what she wanted for Christmas, the girl said, “Food to eat.” Kern feels it is her God-given mission to help children and Native Americans learn more about Him.

“The Christmas program is so needed, and I’m excited to see so many Native Americans together,” says Ellenwood. “This is the biggest Native American Christian event in our area, and it makes me happy to see people happy and enjoying themselves."

Gatherings are important to Native Americans, and to celebrate the birth of Jesus with every nation, tribe and people is exciting. Ellenwood is passionate in her work with Native American ministries. She believes the key to ministering to Native Americans is in reaching the children: taking care of them, loving them and teaching them. As Jesus reminds us, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14).