Tom Crider, the Pastor of Gallup Church of the Nazarene in New Mexico has a vision for the salvation of Navajos and Zunis. He is using the JESUS Film as an entry point into the people's lives. Pastor Crider has used the film in the past but more recently has called on the assistance of volunteer missionaries located in El Paso, Texas.
As Volunteer Missionaries for the Border Initiative, Maynard (Mayn) and Barb Amstutz say, "We have become increasingly aware of how God can use us if we have faith and move forward. We just returned from a trip to the Gallup, New Mexico area where we were privileged to share the JESUS Film with the Navajo and Zuni people on the Reservations. It was such a delight to see the interest of these tribal groups when the film was shown in their own language.
The results were exciting as inroads were made into two cultures that desperately need the love of Jesus in their lives. Teen pregnancy and alcoholism are two issues that seem to prevail, creating a cycle of dependency that is hard to break through.
During our four showings of JESUS Film and Magdalena- Released from Shame, we saw some wonderful transformations begin in the lives of these people.
Following are the reports provided by the Amstutzes.
Navajo and Zuni Diary (August 2009)
Tuesday, August 17, 2009 (On the Navajo Reservation)
On Tuesday, Lula, a Navajo woman in Tom's church, took a van and collected 35 people to see the Navajo narration of the JESUS Film on the Navajo Reservation. One man asked for prayer for healing. They plan to have additional showings in homes throughout the reservation. The hope is to start a church in that community.
Wednesday, August 18, 2009 (Thomas is a Believer)
On Wednesday, August 18, the JESUS Film children's version was presented in the Nazarene church at Gallup with 25 people attending, 15 children and 10 adults. At the end of the film, one nine year old young man in leg braces and arm crutches, shot up his hand at the invitation wanting to accept Christ. There was a holy hush as we prayed aloud the prayer of repentance with Thomas. As we prayed with him, I watched his face. His head was hung low, and he appeared sad. At the end of the prayer when he raised his head, we saw a glowing happy face. He told me he had asked Jesus into his heart. What a joy to have been a part of this young man's conversion. I asked about his family and he shared in his own words, "It's a mess!" He was caught between his Mom and Dad who lived in different states. He had traveled back and forth to go to hospitals for treatment on his legs. I told him of a friend that would be with him forever, even when no one else seemed to care. His name is Jesus and now He is his closest friend! Praise the Lord! Only eternity will reveal what God had in store for this young soul. What an incredible joy to be a part of God's redemption! We asked Thomas to come to church but he said he would have to ask his mom. We were so busy and didn't know when we could get to visit his home. God had another plan. I felt impressed to read a scripture that next morning and opened my Bible to Psalms 10:12-18. The word spoke of how God is a father to the fatherless and considers their grief. Those words were so reassuring to us as we left that morning to run errands. Mayn ran into the grocery to pick up some water for the evening JESUS Film showing. As he was standing in line heard a young voice call out, "Hi!" Guess who had come to the grocery store with his Mom? Thomas!! Amazing! Mayn explained what had happened to Thomas when he accepted Christ and asked if he could come to church on Sunday. Mom said to Thomas, "Do you want to go?" He shouted, "Yes!!" Once again we were amazed at how God directs our paths and wants to draw people to Himself. We'll continue to pray for Thomas' family.
Thursday, August 19, 2009 (Drive-In Movie for JESUS)
On Thursday night, we set up the film at the Zuni Tribal headquarters along the main street. Many cars traveled this route and we ended up with 80-100 people, in cars, watching the story of Jesus in the Zuni language. The first drive-in movie for JESUS Film! One young man stopped by to share his story. He said he heard his grandfather's voice as he was passing by and his grandfather is now in heaven. His name was Michael and he told us that his grandfather had narrated the JESUS Film in Zuni but never got to see the completed film. We asked if he knew Jesus and he said no. We encouraged him to accept Christ so that he could meet his grandfather again someday and share his story. God is so amazing!
Taylor, a Zuni artisan who creates fetishes, sat and listened to the entire film. He showed me the angel that he had carved and I asked why he chose to create an angel. He said his only child, a 12-year-old daughter, had died and he knew the angels watched out for her. I shared that he could know Jesus personally and meet his daughter again someday in heaven. I asked, "Do you want to live with Jesus now and again someday in heaven?" He said yes and we prayed together. Hallelujah!
Another young woman, who just graduated from High School, came forward and asked Jesus into her heart. I think I was most amazed at how easy it is to ask a person if they want to know Jesus and they immediately respond. I realized how much God was teaching me along the way! People need Jesus and are ready to accept if we will just ask!
Saturday, August 21, 2009 (Released from Shame)
On Saturday, we showed the film, Magdalena Released from Shame. It was raining and not as many cars came, but we ended up with 27 present to view the film. Taylor came back and brought his cousin and brother. They sat in the rain through the entire film and at the end came forward to accept Christ. Taylor wanted to pray again so we prayed over the loud speaker.
I felt led to approach a car that had remained and the wife told me they had tried to come for two nights but made it tonight. I asked if I might pray with them. They said the husband was having physical problems and was scheduled for surgery. We prayed for physical and spiritual healing. He began to share that he had a drinking problem that caused his illnesses. His daughter, a nurse, was so concerned for him and his wife of 32 years feared for his life. We then prayed again that the God of deliverance would heal him from his addiction to alcohol. God had placed another soul in our path that needed His healing touch so much. It felt just like being a part of the film when Jesus did healing of hearts and bodies along the way.
A Zuni public school teacher, her daughter and son-in-law, who are part of the Gallup Church of the Nazarene are starting a Bible study in the Zuni Reservation as a follow-up for these new Christians. We introduced them and invited all to come and learn more of Jesus.
Sunday, August 22, 2009 (Unexpected Blessings in Gallup)
On Sunday morning Maynard and I shared our testimony, the events of the week and how JESUS Film is working around the world. By the way, Thomas was in church and gave his testimony. Awesome! We presented him with a Children's Bible. Praise God! At the end of the service, Pastor Tom Crider took an offering and those 40-50 people in attendance gave $157.54 for JESUS Film. Many took Harvest 120 brochures and will always have a place for JESUS Film in their hearts and prayers. It was a blessed week.
Sometimes it is the unexpected, the unplanned and the blessings along the way that change our lives forever! Thank you Jesus for the joy of serving and making a difference for the Kingdom!
In His Service,
Barb and Mayn Amstutz