Crisis as Kairos: Our Samaria Right Next Door? Acting on Crisis to Minister to Our Native Neighbors
AbstractIn June 2016, a wildfire swept through the Spokane Indian Reservation burning 18,000 acres, destroying many homes and knocking out power to the tribal headquarters town of Wellpinit. The power outage resulted in spoiled food at the only grocery store in town and a blown pump at the town’s only well. This was the second fire in two years to rock the community’s well-being, and the crisis created lingered on for months for members of the Spokane Tribe. Some still have not fully recovered. Meantime, less than 50 miles away, in the city of Spokane, which derives its name from the tribe, the smoke was a mere irritation to our eyes and lungs as the crisis garnered little attention beyond our health concerns (and spoiled vacations). / Beyond the fires, which are increasing in frequency and intensity because of global climate change, my neighbors, the Spokane Tribe, face a number of other crises, such as an environmental and health crisis (created by an abandoned open-pit uranium mine now actively leaking high-grade uranium into the Spokane River), an economic crisis (caused by high unemployment of 45.3%), a suicide epidemic, and a growing opioid addiction problem. / Missiologist Donald K. Smith has suggested that crisis creates opportunity to form opinions and even change them. And American-Korean missionary Michael Oh has contended that God is sovereign over crises and has “gracious gospel purposes” in them. / Tribal communities all around us are majority world cultures, some besieged by similar, structurally-created crises. Given the colonial history of the dominant culture church, the gospel has made little inroads into many of these communities and an understandable suspicion remains towards outsiders. Might crises, such as those listed above or others among our Native American neighbors, provide the opportunity for us to be good neighbors in the time of crisis, thus opening the door a bit further to effective ministry in our nearby “Samarias?” / In this article, I examine the opportunities, in a growing world of crisis, for Christians to be involved in reaching majority world cultures right in our own backyards.