North Dakota 2011


Dates:  July 7 – 18
Ministry Partner:  Tipi Wakan Ministries, Boots and Jackie Marsh
Ministry Focus:  Basketball Camp, Care Ministry, Service projects at Tipi Wakan

Grace has built a partnership with Boots and Jackie Marsh, missionaries on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.  This ministry will take a multi-pronged approach to outreach at Tipi Wakan.  An evangelistic Basketball Camp will reach the youth of the community, and a Care ministry will be offered to families and individuals, focusing on grief counseling and support for freedom from addictions.  The team will also work on service projects at Tipi Wakan. 


Team North Dakota (l-r): Kenny Rummell, Kathleen Summer, Charlie Davis, Bob Severn, Bobbie Davidson, Wendy McHadad, Teresa Ferdon, Jonathan Summer, Fred Ferdon, John Davidson.  Not pictured: Richard and Marion Morey

Updated Tuesday, July 19
Charlie and his team member made it home safely. Thank you for praying the team through their outreach at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Updated Monday, July 18
E-mail from Charlie

Most of the North Dakota team has made it home to their families.  The reason that I say that most of the team has made it home is because Richard and Marion Morey will be driving themselves home starting tomorrow.

Also a team member and I were surprisingly held back this morning from boarding the plane with the team because of a mistake accidentally generated by our travel agency.  My ticket was okay but when he presented his ID, we were surprised that there was no reservation for him on the flight.  His ticket was accidentally dated for a day later at the same exact time.

I made the decision to send the team on ahead, retrieve my checked bag and stay with my team member to work out the situation.  As we stand right now, the travel agency has re-ticketed me to travel with him tomorrow.

So, we will be a day late and a few dollars short but we are in good spirits.  The rest of the team did well in following my decision and I kept in cell contact with them as they laid over in Denver and finally reached their destination in Burbank.

So for now, I write to you from Bismarck, ND, where hail, rain, thunder, lightning, rainbows, HUMIDITY and tornados all come together for a dazzling show that never ceases to amaze.

Updated Thursday, July 14
E-mail from Charlie - Journal Entry #6
Thank you for your prayers concerning our Basketball camp.  In our opinion, even though there was a certain amount of chaos, the time with the kids went a little better.  We loved them.  That is what counts.

However, there is a more pressing need at this time.  There has been a serious accident here in Cannonball and it has the whole town up and out.  Please understand that our team is all well and not one of us is physically involved.  Apparently, in the minutes after we finished our camp, a little boy (we'll call him "Johnny")  did a foolish thing and decided to try to jump onto the back of the family car as it was coming out of the driveway.  He fell off of the end of the car, hit his head and the car backed over him.  His sister, who is reportedly not legal to drive, was driving and assumed that she had just run over a bicycle and consequently pulled over him again.  Upon learning what had happened, our team, specifically the basketball part, went out to see if there was anything that we could do.  When we got close to the scene, we were met with emergency personnel.  They had moved Johnny to a clearing and were preparing to airlift him to Bismarck. 

Since we could not offer any help there, we pulled into town where we found everyone on either their front or back porch watching for the helicopter to take off.  It was then that I decided to get out of the van and to walk around the town to see if there was anything that God might have me do. It soon became clear to me that the whole town knew who I was.  However, nobody but the children would approach me.  They’d say, “You’re the guy from the church group, aren’t you?”  I soon realized that everyone but the kids would shut right up whenever I came into hearing range. 

It was then that I decided to walk over to Johnny’s house to check out the situation there.  I knew that I had a slight inroad over there in that I was quite familiar with his little sisters.  They were the ones that ‘loved my fur off’ the last time that I was here, by playing with and climbing all over me.  As I walked up, I saw one of them on the front porch.  She saw me and ran up to me with tears in her eyes.  I held out my arms and received her with a giant hug in front of all of the neighborhood.  Then her little sister saw me and came running out.  I scooped her up and hugged her as well.  She was crying when she whispered to me, “I’m scared for my brother.” The three of us sat there of the front lawn in full view of all as we cried, talked and prayed.  Then an ‘aunt’ came brushing by.  I called out to her and told her that the family was welcome to join us for dinner and that we would have plenty.  She briskly thanked me and walked into the house.  I bade both of the girls goodbye and walked through the town back to Tipi Wakan.

Late bulletin:  As I was typing this, we just found out that Johnny has been diagnosed with a broken rib, a broken collarbone and cuts and scratches.  To put it bluntly, it has been a miracle.  Pray with us that God uses this to draw this family out of the darkness and into the light.  And if God asks, "Who shall I send?", may our response be, "Send Me!"

Updated Tuesday, July 12
E-mail from Charlie - Journal Entry #5
Our episode of ‘Survivor’ just got a lot more interesting today.  After our daily team devotions, we broke off into our teams to face the day again.  As of yet, I am not able to report about our plant contingency or our Spiritual Care team for the day in that I was focused a little heavily on our basketball camp.

To put it bluntly, we had a rougher time with the kids today.  There was stealing, fighting, testing and uncontrolled rude behavior at all levels today.  Many of my team members were being provoked far beyond their usual tolerance level.  There was an unmistakable level of discouragement amongst us all as we boarded the van to clean up and have dinner. Then the statements started.  “We came here and poured out our love on these kids and this is how they treat us?”  “I watched as a young girl stole one of our basketballs that cost our team $20.00 and then lied to us by telling us that it was hers.”  I can’t believe how our personal space was violated. No one has ever slapped me before and I was slapped a number of times today for no reason.”  “I don’t even think that these kids even have a concept of what is right and wrong.  How can they ever understand that they need a Savior from their sins if sin is not understood as wrong?”

We basketball guys needed to have a little debrief right after dinner where we expressed our frustrations to one another.  Then, it was pointed out that we were given a unique and exciting opportunity.  We are able to love and pour ourselves out similarly, in a small way, the way Christ did for us.  He loved us and we spat on Him.  He gave of Himself for us and we mocked Him and tried to provoke Him. Then we finally killed Him. We were encouraged to count it as joy that we might experience a little humiliation for the sake of loving these kids. 

Pray that the love of God comes through us over the blasting din of the chaos in these little hearts. Pray that our team members strive for personal holiness as we move out in obedience and faithfulness.  Pray that we learn to rejoice in our sufferings for the sake of Christ.

Updated Tuesday , July 12
E-mail from Charlie - Journal Entry #4
Welcome to another episode of  ‘Survivor – ND’.  We join our hearty group of intrepid survivalists as they strive to press on with the race that is set before them.  Early on, the team decided to vote Jonathan off of the reservation but Jonathan made an amazing comeback by doing really, really well with the kids at the basketball camp.  (Seriously, there is no derision on the team.  Everyone is surviving, and surviving well, even flourishing.  This is being accomplished by the power of God through our prayers and the obvious prayers of those supporting us back in California.)

Today’s basketball camp went surprisingly well.  After this day, it became apparent to me that God allowed us to just pick up about where we left off last year.  The kids were a lot more compliant, we had a much higher ratio of team members to children, and for the most part, the kids pretty much did what we asked them to.  We even were able to herd them over to a corner of the gym to be able to share a life story with all of them.  It was Bob that really made all of this happen and he was the person who had the chance to share his faith in Christ with the kids today.  Another thing that really worked was having Marion and Teresa working with all of the very small children with arts and crafts, evangecubes (a picture-based evangelism tool), and stories reminiscent of a Vacation Bible School table.  Basically, God assembled our team with personnel that fit in with every age group that was there.  Again, I am confident that this was because of prayer and the power of God.

This evening, we had a special memorial service for Marcy Pikop.  The team was represented well there and also present were Jackie Marsh, Toni and Brunetta, two of the native American women who knew Marcy well.  We took the opportunity to sing several fitting hymns and share about our special remembrances of this precious woman of God.  By the time that we were finished, there were very few dry eyes in the room.  (If you did not already know, Marcy had a big part in the ministry here at Cannonball, serving with her husband Randy as the team leaders of the first four Grace teams that came here.  She is loved and will be missed greatly.)

I will finish this entry by saying that we ended our service, which was happening at the same time as the memorial service for Marcy at Grace, with the song, ‘Near the Cross’ with the words, “’Till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river.”  After we sang this, most of us went out back to look at the wide Missouri river as it was being painted by a beautiful pink sunset.  It was almost as if we were looking into eternity and seeing just where Marcy was.  Our hearts longed to go there.

Updated Monday, July 11
E-mail from Charlie - Journal Entry #3
Well, six of us decided to go get the pie (see Journal Entry #2 below).  Richard and Marion Morey needed to go back to Tipi Wakan in order to get their RV which was left right alongside of the church.  So the Moreys, as well as John and Bobbie Davidson, Bob Severn and I got back into the van and headed back north to the church in a race against another coming storm.We pulled into the church grounds just minutes before the storm hit.  It was a wild windy driving rain punctuated by violent thunderclaps.  We kept a wary eye out the door for more funnel clouds but none were to come.  After about ½ hour, the storm subsided as quickly as it came.  We had the time to clean up our dinner mess and recover the pies, one of which the six of us did our best to consume right on the spot.

Upon returning to the hotel, we delivered the other pie to the remaining team members.  Kathleen Summer took one bite and said that she thought we were crazy when we decided to risk our lives to get a pie but now that she tasted it, she thought that the effort was worth it.  Thanks, Kathleen!

This Sunday, the team volunteered to conduct the church service at Tipi Wakan.  Since Pastor Boots was gone attending his daughter’s funeral services, the whole task fell to the team.  Fortunately, God had us up to the challenge.  Only the day before, I asked both Richard Morey and Fred Ferdon if they would handle the Bible study and the sermon respectively.  Despite limited preparation time, they both did an admirable job.  I am proud to be serving with both of these Godly men.  I handled the worship music using my guitar.

Tomorrow, we begin our Basketball camp and our ministry begins to kick into high gear.  Pray for our basketball team members.  They will have one of the most grueling jobs of all of our GBC mission teams.  However, all of them are prepared to pour themselves out in the love of God for these young Native Americans.  Pray specifically for Kenny Rummel (basketball team leader), John Davidson, Bob Severn, Jonathan Summer and Marion Morey (working with the little kids).  I am confident that these people will serve Christ with all of their hearts, souls, minds and STRENGTH.

Updated Saturday, July 9
E-mail from Charlie Davis
- Journal Entry #2
Have you ever experienced the thrill of trying to outrun a tornado?  I’ll have to say that until now, this feat has not been a part of my experience.

After doing various projects in and around Tipi Wakan, our Basketball contingency decided to hit the road to try to drum up enthusiasm for the upcoming ‘basketball camp’. We drove slowly through the town and managed to give out almost all of the fliers with personal invitations for kids of all ages to meet us on the following Monday. In the short time that these three were with the kids, love was poured out.

As we drove away and began to head back to the Tipi Wakan church, I noticed in the distance to the west of us some ominous looking clouds. When we rejoined the team, I gathered everyone to look at the crazy looking cloud before dinner.  During a great time around the dinner table, the lights flickered and went out.  Dick went out to his car to get a flashlight and came in and told me that if I thought the last set of clouds were impressive, I should come out and look now.  We were amazed to see a swirling mass with fingers pointing down nearly touching the horizon just a few miles away.  We stood there in wonderment watching the circular movement and trying to discern the direction of the storm.  When the sky began to get green above us, we knew that it was heading in our direction.  Since I knew that there were no storm cellars at Tipi Wakan, I made the decision for the team to immediately jump into the van so we could head southward and out of the path of the storm.  In just two minutes, we locked the doors to the church and were on the road in both of our vans. 

From a viewpoint a few miles to the south, we watched as the storm cloud moved right over the church and passed without touching down.  When we thought the worst was over, we considered going back but then we noticed two much larger systems preparing to move in.  We then decided to move further south and make our way to the hotel where we were scheduled to spend the night. 

We got ourselves checked in and then Jonathan remembered that we left our pie dessert back at Tipiwakan.  Should we stay in the safety of the hotel or go back to clean up our dinner mess and get the pie?  There is more to this drama but I will have to tell you later because this journal entry is too long already.

Updated Friday, July 8
E-mail from Bobbie Davidson
It seems like the ND team always has weather stories.  Last year it was softball-sized hail that cratered windshields and damaged cars in their hotel parking lot.  This year, the funnel cloud below brought their day to an early halt today and sent them scampering for shelter.  All ended well, with just lots of rain.  Pray for good outreach tomorrow!

Updated Friday, July 8
E-mail from Charlie Davis
The team has arrived safely in Bismarck.  We had a good dinner at a local BBQ joint.  Everyone is in good spirits and there has been lots of laughter caused by several tired traveler mistakes such as one of our team members accidentally walking into the wrong gender restroom in a busy airport.

Even though traveling to North Dakota is a lot easier, mileage wise, than our other international flights that other GBC teams make, our traveling was still exhausting, especially since we had no one from the ministry available to pick us up at the airport.  Richard and Marion Morey were a special blessing to us because of the fact that they drove themselves out here over the last week and were available to meet us as we arrived.  This made or coming all the more sweet.

We still needed to rent a car to help shuttle the team to the hotel.  After dinner, we used that car to travel an hour south to pick up the other team van at Tipiwakan.  When I and John Davidson were finished driving, it was well past 10 in the evening.  This made an especially long day for us as we started our traveling in the GBC parking lot at 4:00 am that day.

Laughter is good, especially since we are laughing together.  Please pray for our team spirits today as we move down the river to Cannonball and begin to settle in and try to be sensitive to the Lord's leading as we seek to serve Him in the lives of these precious people.

Updated Thursday night, July 7
The team arrived in Bismarck without incident, ready to begin serving on the Standing Rock reservation tomorrow.

Updated Thursday, July 7
Team North Dakota was prayed off bright and early from the church parking lot - at 4:00am!  In addition to the ministries already planned, they learned this week that our hosts, Boots and Jackie Marsh, lost a daughter this week after a battle with cancer.  Thank you for praying that our team would bring comfort and refreshment to our grieving hosts, as well as truth and guidance to the Native Americans on the reservation.