Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!
It’s been a bit since I have digitized some thoughts to share with you. It has been a great end to our year here at the Fallout Shelter. We noted that we have trained over 2000 people this year in self-defense courses, as well as a good group of youth and adults that train in various martial arts with us. We have also trained over 200 in firearms courses. We trained groups as large as 250 in Iowa, and as few as 3 the following day in North Eastern South Dakota. Our mission of ‘preparing people for the unexpected’ has been going well, and we pray for increased growth next year. If you want to be a part of that mission, physically, financially, or spiritually, you are invited to join us.
We were also honored by SHAPE SD and received the Friends of SHAPE award; we were nominated by our longtime friend Sharon, who we have been honored to work with for nearly 8 years at the Watertown High School.
Now, a little about the last months.
We had the opportunity to spread our wings and fly to teach and serve a little farther from home. The first week of November we flew to Tijuana Mexico, where we worked with San Diego Baja YWAM, training staff and security there. We also went to Ensenada’s YWAM base and trained staff there. It was very exciting to see what God is doing in those areas – one of the primary missions of both bases is to build homes for people in need, I believe Scott, a YWAM missionary, told me that they build over 300 homes each year between the bases. YWAM has a very intense discipleship training school. We met some great folks from all over the world who were involved; young men like Vint F. who is a fellow South Dakotan and has chosen to serve God. There are tons on people like Vint, you could look across the beautiful campus and see people praying together, laughing together and working together. Service was a very important aspect at the YWAM facility.
We also had the opportunity to go to a YWAM mission outreach (La Rocha) where they serve 100+ homeless men, most of whom have been ejected from the USA for immigration issues. We had great conversations with guys who had served in the USA military after immigrating and were ejected from the USA at a later date for paperwork issues. All of them told us of huge bureaucratic issues on both side of border. Many of these guys were (obviously, by physical appearance) hard working and determined, but embroiled in paperwork, or in some cases addictions or other misfortune. Seeing the border walls, homeless people, slum areas butted up against one of the wealthier cities in the USA was bitter juxtaposition. We have the resources to do so much more, but the bureaucracy stops so much potential help so it is difficult to bring resources across the border to help. It is through the Christ like love and perseverance that groups like YWAM and others are able to show compassion and love and provide needed services. The solution here, just as it is in the rest of the world, is for masses of people to show Christ’s love (unconditional, without expectation of being paid back, and without ceasing). It is easy to look out from the frozen tundra of South Dakota and think there are easy solutions, but every solution requires that we love, and that we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.
The following week, we were able to visit and serve at the CBC (Channel to Brazil for Christ) in Fortaleza Brazil (it’s on the easternmost tip of Brazil, about 200 miles south of the equator). We spent the week with a group of people from the Cornerstone Church in Watertown SD. We stayed on the campus of CBC, with mosquito-netted worn-out mattress bunk-beds and no air conditioning for sleeping accommodations but found it comfortable to rest and serve in the oasis that CBC is in the midst of the favelas (slums), oppressive poverty, and the potential of violence around us. At CBC we witnessed the work of Christ through the staff in their interactions with all the children who attend classes to enhance their public education. We witnessed joy in the faces of the children when they listened to Laura Wilde sing magnificent opera songs to them, when they schooled us in Football (it appeared as easy as breathing to them), and when we were able to share smiles, songs and excitement with them. We were able to repair some facilities issues, including painting, repairing steps, and some other trivial but time-consuming issues. We spoke at length with Marcones and Ruth about the dreams God has given them and how we can help them, if only by spreading the word about the work they do and the worthiness of providing funds for them to continue.
If you want to support them go to www.thechannel.org, they do the work of Christ. It’s valuable and they are creating strong, moral leaders for Brazil, who can help bring it out of the corruption and crime and into the magnificent country it can be.
We were able to train the staff in self-defense, spending several hours teaching after the Republic day celebration. We taught pre-attack indicators, observation skills, mindset, taught about Blauer’s Cycle of Behavior and physical self-defense. They asked me about armed robbery on busses, about violent armed assault, sexual assault and other very violent encounters. These things are unfortunately commonplace in the area where the staff lives. One of the staff members who trained with us that day was able to use her observation skills and escape what appeared to be an attack the very same evening we trained them.
If you are in the USA reading this, I can tell you that we do not have the equivalent violence anywhere here. We have violence, but not this commonly. We heard rumors while in Brazil that the government was considering using snipers to stop the violence in some slums, to literally shoot and kill any armed person they see. So, if you have the opportunity to serve in Brazil, go. They need all the love we can provide.
After coming home, we jumped right back into teaching here, for the Sisseton Whapeton Oyate headquarter staff and at Tiospa Zina middle and high school. It’s an interesting task to make comparisons between cultures and countries, but its what we do. I noted that many of the same problems were present in the impoverished communities in Brazil, Mexico and in South Dakota. It seems violence, de-humanization, objectification, sexualization and poverty run together, like the links of a chain wrapped around hearts and communities.
There is nothing of our world that can break these spiritual chains. The sword of the spirit is adept at breaking them though, sometimes your actions are God working through you to break chains. You have to say YES, and you must MOVE. A stationary hand does not reach out in compassion. A stationary foot does not walk down the road to meet the one in need, nor does the dusty, stagnant treasure serve any purpose.
While we were serving at the Republic day dinner at CBC, one of the gentlemen attending asked me a question – I had to break out the google translate to understand him – but he asked me the question that all of us should answer: “Are we in your heart?” and my answer, as simple as it is, is YES. The people in the flavelas in Brazil are in my heart, the people who are the working poor in Tijuana are in my heart, the people struggling on South Dakota’s reservations are in my heart, the people who live in dirt floor shacks in the mountains of Thailand are in my heart. But also you, dear friend, brother or sister in Christ, you are in my heart. I want you to know Christ’s love, peace, adventure, and the Joy of service of the King of the universe. Join us. Invite us. We will come. We will serve you however you need. I love you.
In service of the King,