The city of White Clay – a mere 3 blocks long and 3 wide, just across the Nebraska border – is primarily a place for the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to buy alcohol. There are 2 inhabited houses, 2 ministry centers, 1 grocery store, a general store, a couple cafés, and 3 liquor stores that sell 10,000-11,000 cans of beer a day. The beer companies even have a special kind of beer with higher alcohol content (8-12%) for White Clay. 1,000 of those cans are drank every day by the men and women who live on these streets.
They are low, forgotten and ignored. They don’t often shower or change their clothes. They smell of booze and urine. Rotting teeth, hair long and matted, skin scabbed and bleeding… and we were there to love them. This is what we are called to do — to wrap our arms around the least of these and bring them into the center of God’s love. The poverty in Pine Ridge is second only to Haiti in the western hemisphere and it’s right here in the USA!
This summer we sent roughly 90 young people to minister to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the Mission Adventures program at YWAM Minneapolis. We had teams out there almost every week this summer during the months of June and July. They did a variety of ministry from work projects to children’s ministry. Almost every day our groups reached out to different communities through Vacation Bible School and sports camps. In the afternoon, door to door evangelism, picking up trash, praying over people, getting ready for the evening activities, building a playground, soup kitchens, skate park evangelism, tending gardens, and painting at a number of different ministries in Pine Ridge. Unfortunately, there has been a high number of suicides. This summer our groups participated in anti-suicide rallies. It is so much more than children’s ministry, evangelism and work projects. Mission Adventures is about reaching the hearts and sharing God’s love to world. Engaging with the locals, reaching their needs and empowering them in their identity of how God has uniquely created them.
Here are a few short testimonies from this summer:
“My favorite part was when the kids asked me about who God was.”
“I had a wonderful time. I really felt like I made a difference.”
“Jason SubBear decided to go to rehab after a conversation we had – it was amazing to see an immediate impact”
“It was amazing to see how the Lakota people embrace the Latinos differently than they do other teams. The Lakota’s are friendly and warm cultured, but there seems to be a deeper level of connection with the Latino team. More than any team I’ve gone out there with, the Risen Warriors would come to all of our meals and meetings. They opened up about deeper issues going on, and would be in tears as they asked for prayer. There were many times when we would pray over the Risen Warriors and they would ask if they could pray over our team in return.”
This is the second year that a group from the Latino Discipleship has gone on a short-term missions trip to Pine Ridge, SD. It is one of the high lights from this summer. God uses the Latinos in a powerful way. The Lakota people are more accepting of the Latinos, they will go up to them, talk with them thus allowing the Latinos to share openly about God.