Tell me a story.
If I had a guess, your story might be about yourself, a loved one, the time you went to Paris or maybe reminisce about a good time you had in college.
Let me share a story.
It takes place in a third world country, where simple daily needs are difficult to come by. Food may or may not be served tonight. The children living there are down to their last pair of shorts and shirts. A storm blew the roof off a family's 'home' and now they are living outside in a makeshift tent. The community suffers from rampant alcoholism, meth dealers flocking from other lands because the rules don't apply here and every type of child neglect imaginable. Roaches crawl over someone's belongings in the corner. The majority of parents are a slave to their sins, so teenagers living there feel trapped, damned to follow in line. So they take their own life and no one notices; or it seems.
Everything you just read is not about a third world country, it's right here in the United States. The story is about Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge reservation (and other towns like it) and there's nothing I can do to stop what happens there.
I feel powerless.
Pay day comes for Natives. Time to get hammered in White Clay, Nebraska (just over the border) or on the reservation, where alcohol is 'not allowed'. Time to give Uncle Jim money for meth. The money is gone, forget food for the family this month; turn the calendar and repeat. Harsh, I know. Judging? Not at all when it's happening right in front of you.
Poverty and addictions are nothing new. Go to the inner city. Go across the street. However, generation after generation give into their parents sins on this reservation in South Dakota. It's not mild addiction. It's full boar, life overtaken by the need. What has to change?
My words are ineffective.
Show me a struggling alcoholic in any major city or suburb and I'll counter with dozens of support centers, AA or drug groups or churches providing counseling to help break addictions and sin. On the reservation, you're the norm. Counseling centers? Right...
Any 'help' given on the reservation fades quickly. Churches nearby are not equipped to help like the churches in your area but God bless their attempts.
Should a church feel powerless?
Any words I type here do not describe what I witnessed in July of this year. The children on the reservation are wild and free like the open plains. They know no discipline. When you show them how to play nice with others, it's kin to an alien life form attempting to communicate with us. However, if you pick them up and give them a piggy back ride or hug them, a thirst is quenched like no other. Love is often replaced with neglect in Wounded Knee and any sign of affection (usually depending on the level of neglect) brings joy to the children's faces. It's guaranteed that child will never forget your face. They see Christ in that moment.
Embrace that I can do nothing.
Action breeds change. But I need to let this go and let God take things from here. Do me a favor and if you pray, think about adding Wounded Knee to the list today. Please keep an eye out on my site and social media, as I'm planning a long term project up in South Dakota. Real is the best description I can bring to this blog about the project; with a completion date in a few years.
The situation is dire there. God can do all and I know only he can. So, I'll leave myself out of it. Thank you for reading.
Please take a moment and see a very small sample size of my photos taken in and around Wounded Knee below.