After six years of living close to the Navajo Nation reservation, I have witnessed firsthand the foolish (and, I will add, racist) policy of generations past of rounding up native peoples and driving them to "reservations." Often, our government placed these peoples on lands that were the poorest and most remote. No walls were built, but once the reservation boundaries were determined (and changed many times, by the way, by the bureaucrats in Washington), little effort was made to teach the indians new skills, or to provide modern infrastructure that would make assimilating into American culture easier. There were some basic and noble efforts made, to be sure, but these were few and far between. Most cruel of all, perhaps, our government brought in alcohol to "pacify" the indians and to quell dissension and revolts. Oh, what great tragedy alcohol has brought to the reservations.
The past cannot be undone, but the present and future can be better, much better. As I live and work among the Navajo, I see a people who love life, who are bright and industrious, who are honest and good-natured. I see a people who, when given half a chance, can excel and do great things. I continually pray that the resources and opportunities needed for continued and accelerated advancement of the Navajo will come. Share this prayer with me.
Of course, my primary interest here is with the children of the Navajo nation, particularly those children who are in crisis, whose families are beyond dysfunction and who are in great need. We at the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home are striving to help these children and families. We need partners in our ministry to enable us to extend our reach and to take more children into our care. Will you help us? Please make a contribution to our cause today.
As you consider this plea, let me share with you some statistics that describe, in some small measure, life on the Navajo reservation:
- There is 58% unemployment on the Navajo reservation
- Annual per ca pita income is around $7,300 (try feeding and housing a family on $7,300 a year!)
- 32% of houses lack plumbing
- 20% of houses lack electricity
- 50% of children drop out of school
- Fewer than 7% of adult Navajos have college degrees
- 90% of the population is impacted by alcoholism (either personally or through a close family member)
- The median lifespan among men living on the reservation is 46 years (read this sentence again! . . . that's over 30 years shorter than in the wider American society!)
- 20% of families are intact; 80% of families are fractured!
Manuelito Navajo Children's Home is just one of the efforts by Churches of Christ to share the love and message of Jesus Christ to the Navajo. Today, churches can be found in at least ten communities on the Reservation. Many of these congregations are being led by Navajo preachers. In the coming days and weeks, I will introduce these workers here on my blog and on my Facebook group, Churches of Christ Navajo Mission. Please pray for these men, their families, and the churches with whom they work. Pray for the effort to bring Christ to this beautiful and noble people. Do more than pray, become involved personally and financially.