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Julie Mantey, from Barrhead, Alberta

I am a nursing student at Prairie College and I am one of the people who makes the weekly three hour trip from Three Hills to help out with the Sunday School. I joined the team in January of 2014 and a year and a half later, I guess you could call me the leader or our current team. From my first day, these kids stole my heart, of course I’ve always had a soft spot for kids. When these little ones look at me with their dark eyes and black hair, my heart kind of just melts into a puddle! I have taught all the classes before; 4-6 year olds, 7-10 year olds, teen girls, and a few mixed teen classes but currently I mostly teach the teen girls. As I started my summer break this May, I had about two weeks and so I wanted to know what life on the reserve was like not just on Sundays.

One of the major things to mention is that there are kids around all the time! There were kids spending the night, either in the house with Karen and Rodger, or in the church with me almost every night. For some reason or another they couldn’t go home, or it wouldn’t be safe to do so. These kids crave attention. Many times I took them to the Sunchild School to play on the playground or hung around the church and played with them there. The little ones always want piggy back rides or to hold my hand.

Karen and Rodger’s home is always welcoming to anyone, both kids and adults. Often adults drop by the house and they want advice about something or they need help getting somewhere, such like that. Often we have spontaneous Bible studies when people come to the house or when we go to visit them. I really like how Karen does that. Sometimes I think “missionary” and I think someone preaching on a street corner and that is really terrifying! How I saw Karen reach out to these people is different. Just sit and have tea with them and talk about God or just drop by their house for two minutes to tell them that she was thinking of them and wanted to see how they are doing. It is really non-threatening for everyone. I also came with Karen to visit some people who were from the reserve but were in the hospital in Rocky Mountain House. As a nursing student I know how much it means to people when someone takes the time to visit them when they are in the hospital and so I felt blessed to be one of the people getting to encourage others during their sickness.

One thing that is really important that people considering doing First Nations ministry should know is that the spiritual darkness is great. Alcohol and drug use is common on reserves. Abuse of all kinds; physical, verbal, sexual, etc. are really common and many kids and adults carry that burden with them all the time. The traditional religion is very dark and it can create a lot of confusion for new Christians about what is really true. The spiritual warfare is very obvious and anyone entering the reserve as a Christian must be covered in the blood of Christ and lifted up in prayer by other believers. It is extremely important to take alone time with the Lord because otherwise you will very quickly get drained. People who come to the Lord face a lot of pressure from their friends and family to fall into old habits, but the ones who are serious about their faith, really are. They know that the struggle is great but they refuse to give up the hope that they found!

I hope that I encouraged you to consider coming to help out at Sunchild, or at least to pray for the people who serve here. Thanks for reading my little article. If you would like to talk to me more about this, contact the Rinkers and they can get my contact information to you. God Bless!

Julie Mantey

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