Arkansas cowboy churches this holiday season loaded up supplies and Christmas boxes, traveled to various pueblos in New Mexico and shared the gospel with Native Americans.
Cross Bar C Cowboy Church in Benton along with Calvary Trail Cowboy Church near Smackover brought Christmas shoeboxes for children and other supplies to the Taos Pueblo, located along the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range.
Cross Bar C Cowboy Church pastor Greg Spann said the church makes missions trips to the Taos Pueblo at least twice a year. They began taking Christmas shoeboxes to the reservation in 2017.
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Reaching difficult places
According to Spann, the Taos Pueblo has been continuously inhabited and is the largest to still exist without being relocated. It has a vast history that goes back to before settlers ever came to the U.S.
“They are one of the hardest Indian tribes to get into to witness to,” Spann said.
After hearing some of the needs of Native Americans in New Mexico, Cross Bar C and Calvary Trail decided to partner and see how they could help the folks on the reservation.
It started as just a few missions trips and projects and eventually grew to include backpacks and Christmas shoeboxes for the children through cooperation of the Day School and Head Start Program on the pueblo.
“We’ve done it for a couple of years and just have tremendous success. The kids love it. We love it. We come away with more than we take,” Spann said. “We go out and give them the shoeboxes and we get to tell them the story of Jesus.”
Attracting local attention
While there, Spann said they have several officers from the tribal government stop by to see what is going on. So far, he said they have not met any resistance in giving the shoeboxes and telling the story of Jesus’ birth.
Within the shoeboxes, the churches place a card with a QR code so the families can also receive the message in their home.
“We’ve got some good work out of that,” he said. “They do have a Southern Baptist Indian church in Taos, but it is not on the pueblo. You’ve got to understand, if anybody goes Christian regardless of what the religion is, then they are ostracized out of the tribe. They have to be very committed just to even accept Jesus and we have had some salvations. It is working. We love it.”
In addition to the Taos Pueblo, this year, the churches picked up another tribe about 15 miles away on the Picuris Pueblo. Between the Picuris and Taos, they gave out approximately 160 Christmas shoeboxes.
Whispering Pines Cowboy Church in Pine Bluff and individuals have also provided for the missions to New Mexico.
“God has provided for us,” he said. “Once we commit, we turn it over to the Lord and He provides. “
South of Taos, the Rugged Cross Cowboy Church in Magnolia recently made a holiday visit to the Santo Domingo Pueblo, located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Mike Launius, pastor of the church, said it had been about three years since they last sent a team to the reservation.
“Our missions team wanted to go back and see what seeds we planted and what happened,” Launius said. “We had a very successful trip.”
Like Operation Christmas Child, the church fills small backpacks, not too much bigger than a shoebox, with items a child might need or want and takes them to the pueblo. Launius said they partnered with Gideons to include Bibles in each pack.
“That was one of the big highlights,” he said, especially for the older children to receive their own Bible.
The church’s missions team passed out nearly 350 bags during their recent trip.
“This is a lost, dark culture there,” he said. “We have befriended some Christians, some people who have converted, and they have had to leave the reservation. It is frowned upon to be a Christian on the reservation. … You would not think in the United States of America there would be a place that you’d be scrutinized for being a follower of Christ.”
To help further their reach in sharing the gospel with those on the reservation, Launius said that beginning Jan. 1 they are going to help financially support a contact of theirs in the area. He will serve as a missionary of their church.
“He’s been taking money out of his pocket to do ministry on the reservation as people let him. We’re going to be able to financially help him do that mission work.”
“The Indian reservation has been a good deal for cowboy churches. … It’s been a good fit for our churches,” he said.