Carrying Gospel Light to the Ends of the Earth

EMQ » April–July 2024 » Volume 60 Issue 2

Anadarko, Oklahoma: The Rock Spring Indian Baptist Church was established in 1874. It was the first Baptist church among Plains Indians in the US. Photo courtesy of Derek Ross.

Summary: Despite immense challenges and forces of evil that worked to destroy our culture, my family stands as a testimony of people who served God through our culture. Through many days of darkness, they carried gospel light to my people – the Wichita. Today, I continue in their legacy, facilitating the engagement of Native American churches in global mission.

By Derek Ross

In a small town, 40 people gather in a church to celebrate the life of a church member who made their heavenly journey. A leader quietly prays in English, the common language in the room. Then people begin to sing hymns one by one in their own languages as they feel moved to do so. After a period of silence, one stands and sings, “Nee Wah Sta Wah, Wah Nits o Kaw.” Several join in. They sing hymns in their own languages. The next song begins in another language, and later another and another.

But who are these people, where do they come from, what languages are they speaking, and how long have they lived where they are? Is this a church of refugees or immigrants from other lands?

Let me reveal the answers.

This was a funeral for a member of my family who recently passed away. The songs were in my language – Wichita[i] – as well as in Choctaw, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Muscogee, and Comanche. All of us are from tribes that have lived in this land we now know as the United States of America for thousands of years.

The church is the Rock Springs Indian Baptist Church in Anadarko, Oklahoma – the church where I grew up. It was the first Baptist church among Plains Indians in the US, and it was planted 150 years ago (est. 1874) by Rev. John McIntosh, a missionary from the Muscogee Nation.[ii]

Jesus said, “Be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.” While some missions are destinations to be traveled to, we were the ends of the earth right here in the US.  

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