A Short Stop On A Long Journey
Clear and Simple Media does a worldwide outreach through our book distribution in 48 languages in more than 40 countries and through our delivery websites. But occasionally, we climb in a vehicle and go on the road.
During a recent trip that included Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho, we found ourselves at an outreach called Hands of Faith Ministries in Whiteclay, Nebraska. Whiteclay borders the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The mission of Hands of Faith is “to provide a Christian discipleship and recovery program from substance abuse for native American men and to lead volunteer work teams in mission building projects to train and equip native American Indians.”
This facility can accommodate more than one dozen residents and provides both short-term and long-term discipleship based training and counseling for men struggling with addiction issues. My purpose in visiting Pine Ridge was to reconnect with Joe Cross, the Oglala Sioux gentleman who directs Hands of Faith. I also wanted to see how Clear and Simple Media books and courses could help them do what they are trying to do.
Because it is not uncommon for people who struggle with addiction issues to have had an ‘interrupted education’, Clear and Simple Media simple English books are much more accessible to the average reader in Pine Ridge than many other resources.
Statistically, the Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest areas in the United States.
The reservation labors under an 80% unemployment rate (Department of the Interior). In 2005, with a labor force of 29,539 in the tribe (not specifically the reservation), just 3,131 were employed. The Department of the Interior has since ceased producing estimates of “unemployment.”
The officially reported poverty rate for American Indians living on Pine Ridge is 53.75%. The United States average is 15.6%.
Two of the five “poorest communities in America” are located on the Pine Ridge Reservation:
- Allen (#1)
- Wounded Knee (#4)
With this economic reality, the people face many social and spiritual challenges as well. In almost every category that marks a healthy community, Pine Ridge is in a deficit position. But there are many believers, both on and off the reservation who are working hard to make a significant impact. Hands of Faith is one of those ministries that has made, and is making a difference for the Gospel there.
Please pray as we continue our conversations with Joe and the Hands of Faith staff. We are looking for ways to adjust our existing material or create new books that will help Hands of Faith to help the people in Pine Ridge.