Networking Together with First Nation Ministries

Mar 08, 2013 02:30 AM EST
FORT ERIE, Ont. (INS)— Intercede International’s work with indigenous First Nations ministries in Canada has deep roots, going back over 37 years. Now, since the sudden passing of Rev. Ross Maracle, this First Nations work is going through a transition. Three ministries are emerging with strong ties to each other. One of them is based in Attawapiskat, Ontario—a community that has been in the mainstream news much in the past few months.
Rev. Ross Maracle and Pastor Stephen Stoney in Attawapiskat. INS

FORT ERIE, Ont. (INS)— Intercede International’s work with indigenous First Nations ministries in Canada has deep roots, going back over 37 years. Now, since the sudden passing of Rev. Ross Maracle, this First Nations work is going through a transition. Three ministries are emerging with strong ties to each other. One of them is based in Attawapiskat, Ontario—a community that has been in the mainstream news much in the past few months.

On April 20, Intercede will host a First Nations Gateway Missions Conference featuring two First Nations leaders: Rev. Stephen Stoney and Rev. Daniel Redhead. Information is available on Intercede’s website.

Intercede was connected with the late Rev. Maracle for about 30 years, explains Intercede President James Eagles. “We knew him as an evangelist in the early days, and we also worked with National Native Bible College, which he founded. We supported that and Camp Ohahaseh. Now we call it Ohahaseh Native Ministries. It’s being transferred to Attawapiskat.” Rev. Stephen Stoney is now leading that ministry.

“The major thrust is to develop outreach to youth,” Eagles describes Stoney’s ministry. “He is bringing evangelists in to speak at his church, to the youth. The long-range goal is to develop this youth centre as a place for youth activities—with a Christian emphasis.

“I remember listening to the late Rev. Maracle as he spoke a profoundly moving message at our Spring Gateway First Nations conference in April 2012,” Eagles recalls. “Tears filled his eyes as he described the sadness and reality of the extremely high rate of youth suicides (11 times the national average) in some remote northern communities as Attawapiskat and others in northern Canada.”

The late Rev. Maracle was elated and encouraged by the open door reception his ministry team was given this past June with his visit to Attawapiskat. Arrangements were being made to follow up with a plan to maintain, equip and fund a Christian Youth Centre there to minister to hurting youth and children. Then in late August, Intercede received the news of the tragic death of Rev. Maracle in a car accident in New York state.

Rev. Stephen Stoney is from the Cree Nation and pastors at an Attawapiskat church recognized by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Rev. Maracle came to visit with him last June.

“I was encouraged by Brother Ross,” says Stoney. “We have a vision for the youth, confirmed through Brother Ross—a burden to continue and to carry out his vision for the youth of Attawapiskat—to renovate and make a practical youth centre with counseling in Attawapiskat.”

At his church in Attawapiskat, Stoney works with youth and adults. Some challenges facing youth in Attawapiskat are “being isolated in the north, the attitude is that nobody really cares. We’re all alone and we’re all way up here. It’s hard. There are no places for the youth to gather together.

“I’ve been here now for three years,” explains Stoney. “The longer that I’m here you can see how hearts are being thrown into the dust. They don’t see something to alleviate the pain.”

His vision for working with youth in Attawapiskat is “to empower them to find their purpose; to have the presence of God in their lives; to find their place in life.”

Healing Lives and the Land

Canada Awakening Ministries is another First Nations group Intercede partners with. It was started by a First Nations chief named Larry Sault, who later handed the ministry over to Rev. Roger Armbruster to carry on. Armbruster also served on Intercede’s board for six years.

“We have been working on and off with that ministry for about 25 years,” Eagles observes. “It’s among primarily the Inuit people of the far north. There’s been a tremendous revival among Inuit people—the visitation of the Lord, and healing of the land associated with salvation, that people are experiencing. When revival truly comes to an area, people’s lives are transformed, people give their hearts to Christ and Christ heals them, spiritually, emotionally and physically—and also the land itself becomes transformed by the power of God. Then God’s blessings fall.”

Recently, Eagles had the opportunity to get to know Rev. Daniel Redhead, who leads a new Intercede partner ministry we call Healing the Land Aboriginal Ministries. Armbruster is a good friend of Rev. Redhead, notes Eagles. “They have fellowship together, and he has known the need in Shamattawa reserve, close to Hudson Bay in Manitoba. It has the second-highest yourh suicide rate in Canada on reserves.”

Redhead is from the Cree Nation, and lives on Shamattawa Reserve, in northern Manitoba near Hudson Bay. He was ordained by his mother church which is Amisk Lake Church in Saskatchewan, and is recognized by the FCA Fellowship of Churches. He has a burden for outreach to the youth in his community, many of whom are involved in solvent abuse and face other factors that are greatly detrimental to their spiritual health and well-being.

“I’m doing work in my home community of Shamattawa, doing outreach to young people—reaching out to them with a message of hope and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Redhead told Intercede in a recent interview.

We need a building on the reserve where we can hold services and minister to the young people, explained Redhead. They can have discipleship training there to “raise some of these young generations here to be strong in the Lord. We’d like to bring in some speakers from deliverance ministries.”

Native Networking

Eagles has a personal interest in outreach to First Nations people through his early ministry experiences with the founder of Intercede and Christian Aid, Dr. Bob Finley. “When I first came to Fort Erie, I met Dr. Finley and also began attending a church which I helped found with the late Oneida First Nations Pastor, Rev. Hubert Ireland which met in the Christian Aid Mission original HQ building.

Hubert Ireland established not only the church, but he also established a ministry called Native American Outreach. NAO with Dr. Robert Finley and Christian Aid’s help, established a church in Fort Severn, Ont on James Bay and also another in Oneida, Ont., outside of London. Ireland traveled in the north and visited and preached there, including Fort Severn.

“Dr. Finley, the founder of Christian Aid Mission, raised funds to build that church in Fort Severn. It just happens that Rev. Stephen Stoney, who is now the new director of ONM, was saved under the ministry in Fort Severn when Pastor Gordon Thomas was there. We knew Thomas and Pastor Ireland knew Thomas. Now Thomas and Ireland have gone to be with the Lord. But Stephen Stoney was saved under those ministries. In addition to that, Stoney knows Armbruster, and Stoney also knows Daniel Redhead. In fact, Redhead also knows the church in Fort Severn, because he used to get into a snowmobile and drive about 16 hours in the winter to get to that church in Fort Severn. So all of them know each other. That is a very wonderful thing that is building on a confederation of partnership and being able to work together, pray together. An exciting thing for me is that all the people we are talking to are, have been and continue to be interested in networking together.

Several Ontario and Saskatchewan pastors and community leaders have expressed to Eagles their interest in helping out these First Nations ministries. They include Rev. Mark and Merle Ramshaw from Saskatchewan, Rev. Larry and Elizabeth Ireland from Oneida and London, Ontario, Rev. Selvon Raphael, Pastor of Amisk Lake Church in Saskatchewan, Carolanne Lovegrove, former host of Ross Maracle’s “Spirit Alive” TV program and Fred Sault, Director of the Rainbow Christian Ministries program, of the All Nations Fellowship in Fort Erie, Ont. They want “not just to raise resources to reach out to young people, to get them involved in these isolated communities, but also to bring an awareness to Christians in Canada that our prayers and efforts really do make a difference,” Eagles explains. “If we pray according to knowledge, specifically for these areas where these high suicide rates are on these isolated communities—pray that God will impact those communities, as He has already shown and done in many Native communities among the Inuit. In the Arctic regions, God has brought healing of relationships, forgiveness, and deliverance from addictions, and all kinds of things have happened when God visits a place. So what we are trying to do is provide some of the resources through our efforts, so that the youth can have places to meet, have outreach based on showing love to the young people, and getting them involved in activities that give them purpose. The higher purpose of Christ in their lives will transform them radically. We’ve seen that through testimony after testimony.”

Pray for God’s continued blessings on these First Nations ministries, as they network together with us for God’s eternal Kingdom.

(INS- Intercede International, Fort Erie, ON)