InterACTION - June 2016 Listening For Opportunities to Share The Gospel

By Thomas Slawson

I glanced up for a moment to see a man with a dark braided ponytail behind us. As I kept talking I could see his head slowly turning around, nodding in agreement with what I was saying. A minute later the man and I were talking about faith and the gospel. I was on a campus visit to The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. I had met a student named Lloyd who wanted to get together and talk more about mission work. I had suggested a famous California burger establishment; he had suggested a little Mexican hole-in-the-wall place. I trusted his judgment, and I’m glad I did.

After we arrived we ordered our food and sat down. One of the questions he had was about First Nations ministry in western Canada, so I began sharing what I knew.

I have never lived in Canada. Before becoming communications director for InterAct, my family and I served in Russia. But over the years I’ve tried to listen and learn from my InterAct colleagues who serve in First Nations ministry. And on that day God brought those things that I had heard and learned to mind.

My conversation with Lloyd began with some historical context. I told him about the Indian residential schools and how they had left many scars on First Nations communities, fostering a general distrust of Christians. It was this subject that piqued the curiosity of the man sitting behind us and drew him into our conversation.

I glanced up to see a middle-aged Native American man who introduced himself as Joe. He was surprised that I knew so much about the sufferings of First Nations people. My simple acknowledgement of this sad history softened his demeanor, and he was open to talking.

We talked for about twenty minutes. He told us that he was Comanche and followed a Native religion called the “Red Road.” He claimed he had “tried Christianity,” but that it, “didn’t work” for him. I kept remembering things I had learned and heard, all the while praying for the words to say and for the Spirit to work.

We talked about the gospel, and he talked about the Red Road and his identity as a Native American. At the end of our conversation I asked Joe directly, “Do you believe if you were to follow Christ that you would be denying your heritage and your people?” Sadly he said, “yes.”

I prayed to myself, “Lord what next?” It was then that Lloyd spoke up. “I’d love to stay in touch with you and talk more.” Joe was very willing! They exchanged numbers and made plans to meet up again.

Years of listening paid off in an important moment. It opened the door to a conversation that otherwise might have remained closed. And I have been able to connect Lloyd with one of our missionaries who is helping him better understand Native ministry. Pray for him as he seeks to befriend Joe and share the gospel with him. And pray that God would change Joe’s heart and cause him to leave the “Red Road” for the Narrow Road. †

I glanced up to see a middle-aged Native American man who introduced himself as Joe. He was surprised that I knew so much about the sufferings of First Nations people. My simple acknowledgement of this sad history softened his demeanor, and he was open to talking.

Missionary Profile: Thomas & Cristy Slawson

Thomas grew up in Louisiana and Cristy is from North Carolina. They met at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi while Thomas was pursuing an M.A. in missions and Cristy an M.A. in marriage and family therapy. After seminary their first child Isaiah was born in 2003. They joined InterAct in 2005 and moved to the Russia field in 2007.

While in Russia they focused on discipleship and partnerships with indigenous churches to further the work of church planting in unreached areas. For part of that time Thomas served as Russia field director. Their second child Nadia was born in 2010 while they lived there.

At the end of 2011 they returned to the U.S. in order to better care for Isaiah who has special needs. They moved to Oregon in 2012 to work out of the U.S. office. Thomas now serves as communications director for the ministry, overseeing publications, video productions and telling the story of what God is doing throughout Russia, Alaska and Canada. Their latest addtion, Lily, joined them in August 2015.

InterACTION is a monthly publication of InterAct Ministries

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Created with images by justinerkelly0 - "san cristóbal de las casas mexican restaurant" • BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives - "Cree students and teacher in class at All Saints Indian Residential School, (Anglican Mission School)... / Élèves cris et leur professeure au Pensionnat indien de All Saints, (École missionnaire anglicane)..." • austinstar - "dreamcatcher dream catcher native american" • BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives - "Indian Residential School, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, circa 1914−1915 / Pensionnat indien, Portage la Prairie (Manitoba), vers 1914-1915"

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