Font Size » + | -

Don and Ruth Bryan are presented with a Star Quilt, one of the greatest honors Siouxan peoples confer on ones they esteem. (Left to right): Don and Ruth Bryan, Les Potts, and Russell Stands-Over-Bull.

Chuck Loftis, Mountain Plains Regional Executive Director for Open Bible Churches, has learned to get before the Lord and prayerfully consider direction and timing when his heart begins to stir toward a new idea.

The Holy Spirit was at the heart of quite a stir Chuck experienced in 2011, when he sensed the Lord’s leading to facilitate the formation of the First Nations Network (FNN). The purpose was to build relational bridges throughout Open Bible’s Mountain Plains region and across the U.S. between people of American Indian descent and peoples of other ethnicities (Psalm 133).

“An intended outcome of this effort,” Loftis said, “is that doors of ministry would open for our ministers and pastors of First Nations ancestry to all other ethnicities represented in Open Bible. American Indian groups have been called by Billy Graham, ‘a sleeping giant… awakening’ with a message the rest of us in this nation need to hear.”

Loftis felt strongly led to seek regional approval to ask Dr. Don Bryan, former Mission USA Director for Open Bible, to facilitate the network’s formation. “Has there been a greater cross-cultural ambassador to multiple ethnic groups in the history of Open Bible Churches than Brother Bryan?” asks Loftis. “Not in my opinion.”

Dr. Bryan is well known for his ability to build relationships with people of other cultures. When he feels led to reach out to people from other cultures Dr. Bryan first asks (as did the Apostle Paul with the Ephesians and the Thessalonians in the New Testament) for God to “give us entrance.”

He then asks God to give him “utterance,” to know what to say. Third, he asks God to give him “understanding” into the culture. And finally, he asks for “relationship.”

SUMMIT Conferences

One of the highlights of the First Nations Network efforts is the annual SUMMIT conferences. Complete with workshops, forums, and inspirational services, the inaugural SUMMIT2012 exceeded expectations, bringing together dozens of Open Bible pastors, ministers, and constituents of various ethnicities to begin networking for relational ministry purposes.

SUMMIT2013 was held in conjunction with Open Bible’s national convention, FRESH2013, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “The national interest shown in the First Nations Network was overwhelming and demonstrates potential for cross-regional collaboration concerning the network’s purpose,” Loftis observes.

Already that purpose has been realized. Open Bible minister Robert GreyEagle was the keynote speaker at Point Fortin Open Bible Cathedral’s 2014 missions conference in Trinidad and Tobago.

During the past two years doors have opened for FNN members to minister at New Hope Christian College in Eugene, Oregon. And students from the college scheduled short-term missions trips to the Rosebud Reservation in central South Dakota as well.

First Nations Network at New Hope Christian College.

Greg Carr, senior pastor of Prairie Family Church in Bismark, North Dakota, will host SUMMIT2014 October 2–4. The conference features a powerful lineup of speakers and workshops. Loftis invites and encourages “folks from all across Open Bible to attend.”

“If God’s people unify for His purposes,” he said, “the blessing of His favor will be evident in the relationships between First Nations peoples and other ethnic groups. We’ll enjoy qualities that had been deemed impossible during the 400+ years of ‘secular’ relationship.”

About The Author

Andrea Johnson
Managing Editor

In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea Johnson with family or friends, or outdoors hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children and five grandchildren.