John E. Maracle
is a Mohawk Indian currently serving a four-year term as president of
the Native American Fellowship of the Assemblies of God. He has pastored
Assemblies of God churches in North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin.
He spoke recently with Ken Horn, managing editor.
Evangel: What is the Native American
The Native American Fellowship is a voluntary cooperative fellowship
of Native American tribes and people groups focused on evangelism, equipping
leaders, establishing churches and networking. We work in voluntary
cooperation with Native American Christian churches as well as our districts
and the Assemblies of God Division of Home Missions. Our goal is to
reach our generation for Christ.
Evangel: How many different tribes
and groups are involved?
Maracle: There are 601 different
tribes in the United States, and the Assemblies of God is on 104 reservations.
We have 183 churches. There are also four American Indian Bible colleges
Evangel: What do Pentecostal
Evangel readers need to know about the cultures the Native American
Maracle: Every tribe is unique.
They differ in their language, their culture, their thinking, their
worldview. There are differences between Indians east of the Mississippi
and those west of the Mississippi. They differ extremely from the Northeast
to the Southwest and Alaska, depending on the contact and their treaties
that have been made with the United States. There are some tribes that
have federal recognition and others that have state recognition. And
then there are those which exist as rancheros they are distinct
peoples but they dont have the recognition on the federal level.
Evangel: One of your goals is
to establish indigenous churches on Indian reservations. Please explain
this concept for our readers.
Maracle: Our goal is to train
leaders who can raise up churches on every reservation and urban center
that are self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. We want
to see Indian leadership on every level Native American people
reaching Native American people for Christ.
Native American people are out there
doing the work that God has called them to do, working on the indigenous
concept. From Alaska all the way down through the states there are native
communities and there are native ministers and there are native pastors
on every level of ministry within the body of Christ. We have chaplains
in the military and in jails and prisons. We have educators and broadcasters
and lawyers as well as Indian chiefs and politicians involved in Indian
Tribal Governments. We have people on all levels of leadership, and
we want to equip them to reach their generation.
Evangel: What is your greatest
Maracle: We need more workers,
both Indian and non-Indian, to reach the American Indians all across
North America. The fruit of what we are seeing across Indian country
is the result of the diligent efforts of great missionaries with the
indigenous church concept. The fruit of their ministry is what we are
seeing today in the Indian leadership that is growing in America and
in the Assemblies of God.