Many wonderful things are happening on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in the panhandle of northern Idaho. God has raised up an indigenous community of believers who have taken the name “Living Water Ministries.” This group conducts regular weekly Bible studies for men and women, monthly worship meetings, and weekly leadership meetings. In addition, an outreach ministry called “Helping Hands” focuses on getting firewood for the elderly. They also host a wonderful monthly MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) chapter.
Hayden Lake Evangelical Friends Church (HLEFC) began working with faith groups down on the Coeur d’Alene reservation back in the early 1990s. After trying to support start-up ministries on the reservation for years, the church concluded it was not the Lord’s timing. Eventually the interest and commitment level of volunteers waned, and the church took up other cross-cultural projects. In retrospect, we could see an indigenous church was never established because all the groups trying to initiate the new work were not from the local tribe—they were all Native Americans from distant tribes.
Last year a group from the Coeur d’Alene tribe approached the staff from HLEFC to learn more about how HLEFC worked with folks in drug and alcohol recovery. In the process of discussing this, HLEFC staff heard an incredible God story of how they became Christians and how their faith community got its start!
This story could be its own article, but, in summary, God literally raised up this indigenous church himself, without any outside influence from the “missional experts”! The matriarch of the family, Dianne Allen, had been exposed to different faith perspectives while growing up, mainly Catholicism. God gave her an insatiable desire to know what “truth” was, and the Holy Spirit led her to her Bible. Next, she invited her reluctant adult children to her home to begin reading the Bible together. At the time, her husband, Mike “Buck” Allen, tolerated these meetings but kept a wary distance in the basement. Through these meetings, and after a number of months, the whole family decided together that the Bible really was true, and that together they would become disciplesciples of Jesus Christ. It took two years for them to decide to begin looking for other Jesus followers on the reservation. At that time the matriarch’s son, Caj Matheson, decided to go to Bible college and successfully completed a two-year degree.
Today, five years later, this group is a viable working church. They meet together, but also actively live out their faith in their community. God came and raised up his own church among the Coeur d’Alenes, just the way he wanted it to be!
HLEFC and Living Water Ministries are presently working closely together in a number of different ways. With the assistance of HLEFC, Living Water Ministries became a NWYM Friends New Work in July 2006. The HLEFC MOPS chapter has helped the Living Water MOPS team conduct chapter activities on the reservation on a monthly basis. HLEFC staff have also worked with Living Water Ministries and the Coeur d’Alene tribe to establish a Safe and Sober Community on the reservation to provide housing and recovery programs for tribal members and community residents who want to exit the addiction lifestyle so prevalent there.
The Recovery Worship Band from HLEFC will soon become part of the monthly corporate worship times. Not only will the worship band take the 45-minute drive, the whole Wednesday night Faith Recovery group will go as well, while other HLEFC members tag along!
Many wonderful things are happening on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in the panhandle of northern Idaho.
Many wonderful things are happening with an old traditional church in the panhandle of northern Idaho.
Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks?
by Gar Mickelson
The outreach ministry of HLEFC, called Twenty-four-Seven, operates a transitional housing and mentoring program that serves folks coming out of prison. Currently, their program utilizes three houses, two apartments, and two other mentor homes that serve 14 clients. The Twenty-four-Seven outreach also collaborates with other local Christian faith-based organizations, social service providers, and state agencies to help meet the varied needs of the broken and poor in their community.
Gar Mickelson lives with his wife, Vicki, in northern Idaho and serves as community outreach pastor for Hayden Lake Evangelical Friends Church. Gar and Vicki have two grown and married children and two grandchildren.