Gift of Love

By Rodger Rinker

I enrolled in the Kentucky Mt. Bible College when I was 17 years old. I knew I had a call to Mission work, and during my first year in school, I learned about the Mission work among the North American Indian people, and felt God calling me to that field. It worked out that I could spend both of the summer vacations helping in the mission field on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I spent a good part of the second summer helping Pastor Leroy Rattlingleaf, and his family in their mission station in the town of Pine Ridge.

One of the fellows in the church there was a man by the name of Guy Whitehorse. Guy and his family were good friends of the pastor, and I got to see a lot of them. Guy was a quiet, unassuming personality. His one eye was badly distorted, possibly from some kind of accident. In my youth and immaturity, I somehow developed an aversion to him, although he certainly was a good person. I was especially convicted one day when Leroy stopped to give Guy a ride, and I felt myself wishing that Guy wasn't getting in the car!

I returned for my final year of Bible College, and toward the end of the year the Lord began to probe deeply into my heart concerning the preparation of my heart to minister to these specific people. I saw that I didn't have the depth of love that I could, or should have for a people that I was to spend the rest of my life with. I knew that if I did, then I wouldn't experience the coldness I felt toward Guy. We used to have our early morning and evening personal devotions in the tiny music practice rooms in the basement of the dormitory. At least the ones who got there first to claim one did. I began to pray specifically that the Lord would give me His love for these Indian people in whatever measure He could, to qualify me for service to them. It was a deep cry from my heart that went on for days. I realized it was something that I needed, and I was asking God for it.

I remember one morning God began to answer this prayer. It was as if He just opened my heart and began to pour in His love, and it was an experience that lasted for a couple of days. I knew clearly what He had done. The day after I graduated I was on my way back out to the Pine Ridge Reservation, and after spending the summer at Kyle, I was appointed to the work back in the town of Pine Ridge. Things were different now, and Guy became one of the best friends I've ever had. I especially learned to appreciate this man, and his values, and what special things God had done in his heart. The love that God had given me has always been there, and has been the motive and strength of more than 30 years of full time missionary work. It has made it a joy to spend my life with these people and work with them. Over the years there are many things I wish I could change and do differently, but the one thing I'm so thankful I didn't miss, was asking for and receiving that special gift of His love for those He called me to.

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