My name is Luana Lumley. My father is a Yakama Indian, and my Caucasian mother was a migrant worker born in Wisconsin. We lived in Medicine Valley on the edge of the Yakama Indian Reservation, at the foothills of the beautiful Cascade Mountains.
My mother made sure we went to church, 30 miles away, every Sunday. God has always been a part of our family. My grandfather was the first minister of the White Swan 1910 Shaker Church; my mother’s family were devout Lutherans.
My husband, Francis Xavier Lame Bull, is a Gros Ventre from Montana. I prayed for a Christian man with maturity and wisdom, and God answered my prayer.
I have been blessed with the gift of music. But the gift became a burden, a responsibility, not a gift given from the heart. But now, for the first time, my music is a freewill offering to God and the congregation at Church on the Rock, a Foursquare congregation in Wapato, Wash., pastored by Jeff Yellow Owl, and I feel set free.
We began working in Native American ministry at a church in White Swan, Wash. I also worked for the Indian housing authority and witnessed Native American pain and poverty. Our small church ministered to Native American children, feeding both body and soul. But Satan attacked our church families, our health and our finances. We became exhausted. So God had us step back to rejuvenate and focus on our family.
We found a local church, but the conviction that we were called to Native American ministry became stronger and stronger. Then God led us to Church on the Rock.
The first Sunday we visited, the senior pastor was gone, and the music was sung a cappella. We were warmly invited by the ethnically diverse congregation to stay for their potluck.
We returned two weeks later, and for some reason I was compelled to bring music. Never before had I offered to play for a service, let alone for strangers.
The next Sunday we returned and heard an extraordinary message from Pastor Jeff. We knew we had found our church home, and we decided to commit our work in this ministry for a season.
Looking back, we see God has been preparing us for this ministry. We know the realities we face: broken hearts and families, and extreme poverty. Yakama statistics from 2001 show that 42.8 percent of families live in poverty; 73 percent are winter unemployed; and $5,700 is the per capita income.
There are cultural and identity issues: To identify oneself as Native, you need to participate in Native American religious practices and traditions. To some extent, culture is being defined as Native American religion; thus, 90 percent of Native Americans do not identify with the Christian church.
Native American ministry is on the rise, but Satan is on the attack. Pray for us and for this ministry, for all things are possible in the power of prayer.
>> To read more about the ministry of Pastor Jeff Yellow Owl, click here.