Violet Baptist Church in Pickerington, Ohio, is a world away from the Pine Ridge Reservation and Chanku Waste (pronounced “wash-tay”) Ranch in Porcupine, South Dakota.
The ranch, located in one of the most impoverished areas of the United States, ministers to the Native American Oglala Lakota people.
For the past 12 years, despite their differences and challenges, Violet Baptist Church and Chanku Waste Ranch have been mission partners, working together to share the gospel and help interrupt the cycle of poverty.
“Ministry there is not for the faint of heart,” said Brian Naess, small groups and missions pastor at Violet.
The partnership, Naess noted, began in 2012 when a team from Violet Baptist Church traveled to South Dakota to conduct a summer camp at Chanku Waste Ranch and do additional ministry in Rapid City. For 10 of the last 12 years, Violet teams have conducted summer camp at the ranch in June.
“Our desire was to connect with a mission and not just swoop in and swoop out,” Naess noted. More than 20 teams from Violet have ministered in South Dakota.
“Chanku Waste Ranch would not be anywhere close to where it is today without Violet Baptist Church,” said Matt Hadden, North American Mission Board missionary at Chanku Waste Ranch. “In the early years of our partnership Violet would send a team out three times a year — a construction team in the spring; a summer camp team in June; and a firewood ministry team in the fall.”
In addition to missions trips, Violet Baptist Church also commissioned a couple from their church to minister permanently at Chanku Waste Ranch.
Six years ago, Sarah Deible — a member of Violet Baptist Church — felt called to serve the Lord in a third-world country. Her husband Chad did not feel the same call, Naess said. “Chad didn’t want to leave North America,” he recalled. However, after serving on a missions team to Chanku Waste Ranch, Chad returned home, believing the Lord was calling them to South Dakota.
The Deibles moved to Chanku Waste Ranch to serve with Hadden and his wife, Amanda. At the time, Hadden was serving as director of the ranch, as well as pastor of Creator’s Fellowship, a church plant on the ranch.
Chad took over the role of pastor, giving Hadden more time to direct ministries at the ranch which has become a Send Relief Ministry Center.
“To God be the glory that Chanku Waste Ranch is a Send Relief Center because of the cooperation of thousands of churches coming together to minister there,” Naess said.
Hadden is thankful for the impact Violet Baptist Church has had in the ministry of the ranch.
“Our relationship is so intertwined. I cannot imagine Chanku Waste Ranch without Violet Baptist,” he said. “They faithfully serve us, putting on some of the best weeks of summer camp at the ranch. There is not a building or structure on our property that has not been touched by the Violet men’s group in a huge way. Recently, they were here, helping us with summer camp and providing a dental professional for our clinic, serving the people in our community.”
Hadden says that Chanku Waste Ranch is always looking for healthy partnerships. “We could not do what we do without the support of churches that are willing to send people to work alongside us.”
Violet Baptist Church has also seen growth because of its ministry in South Dakota, Naess noted.
“Our trips to Chanku Waste Ranch have enabled us to show people what missions are all about,” he said. “It is so exciting to see men step up on mission and see them grow. You leave your heart out there when you leave.”
Naess also encourages other churches to step out and get involved in short-term mission projects.
“I went on a short-term missions trip when I was younger, and now I am in the ministry,” he said. “I would love to talk to anyone who is looking at a short-term missions trip.”
For more information about how to sign up for a missions trip to Chanku Waste Ranch, go to www.sendrelief.org and follow the South Dakota prompts. For additional information on how to help, visit the Chanku Waste Ranch website at www.chankuwaste.com.