iEmergence NA: Hawk Feathers and Jesus

Hawk Feathers and Jesus

As the sun dipped in the western sky, I danced with hawk feathers in hand, a Euro-American woman raised in a Midwestern majority culture. I spun around and bowed before the Creator, humbled by his forgiveness for my recent acts of colonization and grateful for God’s grace.

“How did this come about?” you might be thinking. Okay. Let’s rewind.

When my husband and I moved to Blackfeet Country thirteen years ago with the goal of learning, listening and walking in Jesus’s way, we knew we wanted to do it differently than the 500 years of missions to First Nations People that might have been branded with Christian language but focused on assimilation and destruction. We came to build relationships, to gain trust, and join in where Creator is already at work in the community. However, I guess I underestimated the powerful pull of ethnocentrism and my mission-centered evangelistic background. Over time, I succumbed to my desire to feel “productive” and began to run programs seeking to “disciple” the nations in disempowering ways we westerners all-to-often do across the globe. Discipleship is healing when we share what Jesus truly taught, but can be damaging when we impose our own cultural requirements, preferences or expectations.

But nine months ago, I sat across from a good friend, who was courageous enough to be honest with me and lovingly challenge me. “You ARE paternalistic,” she said. The words sank into my heart and stung, because that was not what I wanted to be. Yet I had been describing for her all the ways I was wanting to help a troubled Blackfeet young mom, who had come to live with us. I wanted to help this mom understand the Bible, help her learn healthy patterns in raising her daughter, and even help her understand how to manage her finances.

“Did she ask for your help?” my friend asked. She came to us in crisis, but really desired a safe place with love and acceptance.

I had not only been paternalistic with her, but I had driven my grand plan for productivity and spiritual success in so many program relationships over the years. Here I was stuck in the cycle of wanting to push my agenda on someone else in what I now recognize as another 19th century missionary way of “telling these people what to do.” I realized so many of my non-believing Caucasian friends have better relationships with the Blackfeet because there isn’t a sense of ulterior motivation. I forgot the devastating effects of colonization and didn’t grasp that the way I was acting spoke harsh criticism rather than affirming good news. The way I live in a community can continue to support barriers or build necessary conciliation. Following Jesus’ way does not require me to replicate my version of relating to Him— rather it compels me to love others in such a way that they want to relate to and follow Him on their own.

As is my practice when my heart and soul aches, I went for a jog. Enter the hawk. We live on the gorgeous Rocky Mountain front and there are two hawks living in the area. On my jog I came upon one perched on a fence post. I stopped to watch her for a bit and heard Creator saying, “You were wrong. Just accept it.” After the hawk flew off, I continued to run and found some of her feathers along the way. I picked the feathers up and a new song began playing on my iPhone. The inspiring lyrics spoke of His grace; so freeing that we can sing, shout, run and dance!

It’s easy for me browbeat myself for personal failures until I sink into a deep hole of self-loathing. But in this moment, it seemed as if Creator urged me, “Daughter, see your pride, accept my grace, and dance in the freedom I dream of for you!”

So I did. I danced. Hawk feathers waving in the fading light, accepting forgiveness for the prideful heart that diminished other beautiful souls by implying, “Why don’t you just be more like me?”

But I can’t stop there and I can’t leave this moment in the foothills. It has to impact my actions daily. I have to set aside my conditioned, narrow ideas of what faith and following Jesus look like. I need to open my heart to let another person be and grow without meddling and micromanaging. I will no longer demean others with my predetermined results for their lives and I will accept the journey of lovingly walking beside with them with respect and love to dream and become all Creator has for us.
I believe this is Jesus’ way. ---Summer Graham

iEmergence PH: Building a cultural school with the Ata community!

It takes a community to build a school!

In the Philippines, iEmergence, together with the Ata community and Swito Designs Inc., continues to walk alongside each other to create this space of learning culture!


Panuluanan, the Ata school of cultural learning, is slowly taking shape. Last January, the community spent three days sharing stories of traditional architecture, and designed the cultural learning space collectively.

This March, the community started to prepare the two-hectare land to begin building the foundation of the learning space, with the support of community-based architects from Swito Designs. The community has also began the process of identifying local resources found within their ancestral land. We have been passionately working to support the Ata community’s aspirations by mobilizing resources for Panuluanan and by continuously seeking for partners to walk alongside indigenous people.

The Ata community needs financial resources to fund the construction of the foundation, structure, roofing and walls of each cultural structure designed by the tribal community.

We look forward to your support for this community-led project. Should you have any questions, please email us at

Visit us at!

My People: Journeying in a Good Way

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“I was blown away by the authenticity and wisdom the speakers shared. I am deeply moved.”

February 24,25 in Winnipeg, MB
Indigenous Pathways in cooperation with a number of local ministries hosted the “Journeying in a Good Way” conference. Unlike previous events of the past two years, this one was billed specifically as a “do not miss” event for those interested in exploring questions concerning Indigenous Culture and Christian Faith.

We had hoped for 100-150 people but within a week of registration opening we had 200; two weeks following, we had reached capacity at 230! Attendees were from a wide range of church traditions and mission agencies. In all, this was a powerful event with a significant impact.

Thanks to all who partnered with us to make this possible – especially Inner City Youth Alive.
16939650_1241205765933128_8636240604449871561_nWe’re not sure what the joke was, but we know that Terry was praying for the rest of them…

Just a few of the comments received:

“All the speakers were very clear and had challenging messages. Thank you for sharing your hearts. And thank you for helping to open our eyes and hearts to a different way of thinking! God bless you all!”

“I appreciated all the openness to conversation and listening to one another. This needs to happen again, I know so many people in my life that would benefit from a weekend like this. Thank you for your efforts in putting this on. It truly was a blessing.”

“Life changing conference for me. I see things differently. So very good to hear Indigenous speakers and to see so many practitioners and others to spread the message.”

Photo credits: (L-R) Christina Kroeker, CK Clicks Photography

NAIITS: Another milestone for NAIITS!


“It’s interesting how my life has taken a fairly significant bend in the road. I could never have imagined when I started with NAIITS, that I would end up doing what I am now!”

Meet Métis leader David Skene. David is our first graduate from the MA in Indigenous Community Development Studies offered jointly with Acadia Divinity College at Acadia University. Together with his wife, Liz, David lives in southern Ontario, where he works with YWAM. His ministry focus has been the development of community building activities for urban Indigenous folks and international teams fostering holistic community engagement.

David has witnessed, first hand, the challenges encountered by Indigenous folks trying to figure life out in the urban setting – struggling to make sense of their history, hoping for a better future. His many years of ministry with YWAM had taught him that communities should be the focus of his work – not simply isolated individuals.

And, that’s where NAIITS came in. With the scholarships and support we and others provided, on May 14th at Acadia University and June 1st at our annual NAIITS symposium graduation, David takes the walk – the first graduate from the Acadia/NAIITS MA in Indigenous Community Development.

Congratulations David!

If you are interested in what NAIITS is all about, or in studying with us, please join us at our annual symposium on Indigenous Theology and Ministry, held this year at George Fox University in Newberg, OR, June 1-3, 2017.

Check us out online at

Want to help other Indigenous students make a difference through education and training with NAIITS? Give today to the Elijah Harper Scholarship Fund and you can make a difference in the life of one student - and through them, Indigenous communities! DONATE HERE!

My People: Thank you for Humbled Hearts!

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Phases from left to right: 1) her, as a child with siblings, hiding behind the couch while her parents partied, 2) her, as a teen, partying with friends 3) her, as a mother with children, hiding them behind couch from her abusive husband, 4) her, as a mother seeking God's light and healing for herself and kids.

Thank you for those who pray for growth and restoration every Tuesday and Thursday night for our women's and men's small groups in Browning, MT. It’s amazing how our Creator is responding.

My People hosted an Inenimowin Circle in Browning in May of 2014 to help people on their personal healing journey through abuse - but also to train people to lead circles in their communities. Humbled Hearts Women's Ministry in Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation emerged from that Inenimowin Circle.

Humbled Hearts began as one group in 2014, grew to three groups by 2016, meets every Tuesday night and have served about forty women in the community at one point or another on their journey. During one of the meetings, the women depicted their stories through drawings. Above you can see one friend's powerful depiction of her journey as she found safety to share it with us - and now you. Obviously we can’t change the circumstances, but the power behind Inenimowin and Humbled Hearts is that we walk through it together.

We bear one another's burdens, offering hope through our Creator’s and our love.
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