Welcome to the home of Flutes for Hope.
Several years ago, Theresa and I visited the Devil’s Tower (Mato Tipila or Bear Lodge) in Wyoming. This scarred mountain of volcanic rock is impressive to behold. It’s no surprise to me that the Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Crow people all have a legend about this place, and regard it as one of the holy places of the Black Hills.
Several legends tell of a group of children who were picking flowers and suddenly found themselves being chased by giant bears. The frightened girls climbed a rock and prayed to the Great Spirit (Wakan Tanka) who intervened. The ground around the rock began to rise-up until the children were out of the reach of the bears. In their attempt to get to the children, the giant bears clawed at the ground but could not reach them, leaving only the scarred sides of the rocky butte.
This legend reminds me of the plight of the Lakota children in modern times. In this case, the beasts are the pressures of poverty, drugs, gangs and the legacy of years of neglect and abuse by non-natives. The most visible sign of this attack is youth suicide. In the winter of 2014/2015 the Pine Ridge reservation lost nine youth to suicide and there were an additional 103 attempted suicides. At least two of these children were fifth and sixth graders from the Wounded Knee School. The situation received national attention when the New York Times reported it several times in May of 2015.
But God is intervening for these children. He is bringing this issue to the attention of the church through organizations like the Red Road and Wiconi International. He’s bringing musical groups like Broken Walls to the reservations, who hold special concerts reaching-out to at-risk youth all over the nation; and especially Pine Ridge.
In the five short years Flutes for Hope has been in existence, we have been asked whether we proselytize or “tell them about Jesus” as part of our ministry. While we are a Christian ministry and do not hide the fact, we do not evangelize, as much of our work is in schools. Nor do we make it a goal to keep a tally of those “led to the Lord”. However, that does not mean we quench the spiritual gifts God gave us to reach these kids. We pray (when permitted), encourage, comfort and exhort as we feel led. We believe this testimony is as powerful a witness as any other.
We believe in establishing a foundation of mutual trust and hope, and strive to build upon that foundation when we return as the “flute people”. In this way, we prepare the ground and maybe sow a seed or two of the Gospel by our actions. Then we allow the Holy Spirit to bring the rain, helping these seeds grow and bear good fruit in due time.
Finally, I challenge the reader to imagine a situation similar to Mato Tipila in your own neighborhood; one in-which children were being attacked by bears. You have only at your disposal a loaded gun and a Bible. Aside from saying a quick prayer, would you preach the gospel to the kids or would you shoot the bear?
As always, thanks for your support and prayers,
Ken and Theresa