Let it be said that traveling without Laila is not my preference. However, there are times that the intensity of the traveling and circumstances are not kind. Laila and I are apart not by preference but practicality.
We were up at 3:30 AM, and Laila and I left for the airport 4 AM. I landed in Oklahoma City about 11 AM, rented a car, drove to Shawnee, checked into a Priceline hotel room obtained by Laila, and drove to Seminole, OK.
Seminole was once a roaring oil-boom town. Big oil companies lobbied Congress to change the laws. If a person had less than 1/4th native American blood they had to forfeit tribal lands. Thousands of acres of lands were bought off by "big oil". Indians lost their revenue. Now, Seminole is a sleepy town with the trust lands for the Indians reduced to a fraction of what it once was. About 20,000 Seminoles live in the area. Many speak their native language.
I became aware of two non-denominational churches. There yet remains a strong contingency of native American religions which is a mixture of witchcraft, Catholicism, and other religions. When I asked about shamans or witch doctors the answers were varied, contradictory and evasive. One Seminole observed that she thought most native religion followers went to other reservations to meet with groups of people.
What most surprised me was that Seminoles are not native to Oklahoma. Florida was their home. They were a combination of native Americans, black people marooned by shipwrecks and runaway slaves. In time all these people came to be known as Seminoles. The Spanish government actually paid slaves who came to Florida to fight against the U.S.
The will to live and to keep their own lands drove them to fight with a fierceness that lasted for about 50 years. As the U.S. gradually captured groups of Seminoles, the men were shackled with iron and put on ships with the women. It is said that U.S. soldiers on shore could sometimes hear the prisoners in ships crying for the loss of their homeland. Too often babies did not survive the struggle. In some cases, it was reputed that Seminoles may have killed their own babies rather than have the enemy kill the babies. These captured peoples were taken by boat to New Orleans and upriver. The last part of the march
to Oklahoma is called "The Trail of Tears".
There were black warriors who became leaders, sometimes called "Bands" instead of tribes, because of the varied racial mixture. Mexico offered the Seminoles a land trust with the hope that they would keep other restless tribes off the warpath, which persuaded some to move to Mexico.
The Seminoles are the only Native American tribe that has not signed a treaty with the United States. Yet, they proudly consider themselves American, serve commendable in wars and public service and provided one of the original code talkers of World War II. Edmond Harjo "Andrew" died in his 90's. His widow is still living. He was the first soldier buried in the Veterans' Administration cemetery on the Seminole Nation.
I had the privilege of interviewing Deputy Chief Lewis Johnson of the Seminole Nation. He shared with me his love for Jesus as his Savior and the deep roots of his people that they believe go back to a relationship with the Jewish culture of the Old Testament. He spoke of the need of faith as a hope for his people to preserve family values and become the people that God created them to be.
This writing does not afford the opportunities granted to me to speak with leaders, to offer counsel, to dialogue and to offer partnership. I will be working on a plan to offer Chief Johnson for marketing and development.
Covenant Church continues to enrich its heritage. While we work diligently with home missions in our own community, we seek to reach beyond our borders to share hope through the gospel.
One of our huge events is an effort to shine light into the darkness of Halloween. We "Light Up The Night" literally, no spooks, goblins or skeletons...we offer fun in a safe place with a prayer tent, free Bibles, and a wholesome family atmosphere.
On another note, steel work is to arrive the first of November for the North Annex. By God's grace, we will be doing preliminary work anticipating erection of the steel structure.
Finally, I am asking you to continue to join me in prayer for our country. I yet believe in my heart that God has not yet put his finger into the final mix. I do not know definitionally what this means, and do not suggest it to be good or bad. I just believe that there will be an event that will bring clarity to the present situation. God is on His throne. The affairs of nations are subject to the eternal plan of God.
Go share the gospel with someone. Invite someone to worship with you on Sunday. Remember there are activities for all ages on Wednesday and Life Groups. For more information, check our website: www.covenantchurch.net
I Peter 5:7