Taking the Jesus Road
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The Ministry of the Reformed Church in America Among Native Americans
Written by LeRoy Koopman
In this frank, well-balanced account of the RCA’s Native American missions and churches, LeRoy Koopman recounts the joys of the “Jesus Road” shared by Reformed and Native American Christians. At the same time, he does not turn a blind eye to some very unpleasant details of their journey together as saints and sinners.
The invitation to take the “Jesus Road” took many forms, including boarding schools, camp meetings, visits to scattered settlements, and traditional Dutch Reformed worship services. Among the converts were Chief Naiche and legendary warrior Geronimo of the Apaches; Mildred Cleghorn, tribal chairperson and nationally recognized leader from Apache, Oklahoma; and Robert Chaat, pastor for forty years of the Comanche Reformed Church in Lawton, Oklahoma.
The book outlines how government and church often cooperated with each other in implementing shifting policies that allowed the native peoples little or no voice in their own destiny. Koopman does not hesitate to point out how early missionaries often equated the Christian faith with white culture but also gives credit for their tireless efforts to seek a better life for the people they were serving. He devotes most of his attention to the stories of particular ministries, including the six Native American congregations that remain a vital part of the Reformed Church today.
The story of the RCA’s relationship to Native Americans is one of frustration and faithfulness, of despair and hope, and of persistence and optimism in the face of overwhelming odds. Unfortunately, it’s also a story that reflects all too well the sad record of U.S. dealings with America’s first inhabitants. The book will make fascinating reading for the casual reader and provide instructive history for anyone engaged in cross-cultural witness in today’s increasingly multicultural and multiracial society.
Hardcover, 526 pages, illustrated, lists of missionary workers, index
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