La Vida Mission Church Outreach Department coordinated a Native camp meeting on Sept. 16-18 in celebration of 100 years of Adventist mission on Navajo land. The weekend event brought together nearly 150 people from across the U.S. to share stories, honor former leaders, enjoy a variety of music and food, and rejoice with those who were being baptized.
Guest speaker for the event, themed Moving Forward with Jesus, was Pastor Monte Church, Native Ministries director for the North Pacific Union Conference in Ridgefield, Washington. He shared how Native Ministries in the North Pacific, which have only been officially organized for 25 years, were inspired by the work at La Vida Mission. He also stated that other Christian denominations are using the Native New Day Bible study guides written and used by Seventh-day Adventist Native Americans.
The praise team from La Vida Mission, located 55 miles outside Farmington, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation, led guests in singing hymns in both English and Navajo. The La Vida Family Choir composed of the Mission Staff and its nearly 20 students in grades 1-10, joined in for the lively chorus of the theme song:
Forward! Forward! ‘tis the Lord’s command;
Forward! Forward! To the promised land.
Forward! Forward! Let the chorus ring:
We are sure to win with Christ, our King!
Pastor Steve Gillham, director of La Vida Mission, and his wife, Carol, gave a presentation on Friday evening titled 100 Years Back to the Future that shared the history of Native ministries in the Southwest. Other organizations represented at the centennial event were Holbrook Indian School and Chinle School in Arizona, Waterflow School, Gallup and Crownpoint Church in New Mexico, Monument Valley Mission in Southeastern Utah and Pine Ridge Mission in South Dakota.
Ms. Dorie Panganiban, school chaplain, community outreach coordinator and office manager, and her team prepared an ample supply and variety of food throughout the weekend for the guests, who ate in shifts in the school cafeteria to accommodate the large numbers.
Special activities for the children were organized by April Wright, Dr. Clare Putman and Flor Caro, while Pastor Wayne Gayton, Stanley Gillham, and Pastor Yepsica Moreno coordinated activities for the teens. All the La Vida Mission staff and other volunteers were on hand to assist as needed during this historic celebration.