Army ministers to Native Americans
JONATHAN HARVEY FROM the Farmington, New Mexico Corps gives toys and blankets to a Native American family. The Farmington Corps was recently granted permission to partner with Navajo Missions, a local organization that reaches out to Native American children.
Salvationists are making an impact in Farmington, considered by many a remote and insignificant small community in northern New Mexico.
Located in what is known as the “Four Corners Region” which encompasses New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, Farmington is barren yet unique in many ways. Traveling just one hour west will take you through a rainbow of colored and dramatic rock formations while a trip one hour north places you amid some of Colorado’s most scenic mountains.
Farmington recently received metropolitan status, which has made way for San Juan County’s already booming economy to gain even more momentum. Farmington borders a number of Native American reservations, swelling the area’s population to more than 250,000.
Surrounding communities are also home to some of the most significant Native American artifacts and ruins in North America. Tribes include the Southern Ute, Apache, Zuni and the most predominant Navajo Nation.
The Farmington Corps, soldiers Jonathan and Vickie Harvey in-charge, has become a friend to the natives and was recently granted permission to partner with Navajo Missions, a local organization that reaches out specifically to Native American children, and enter the reservation to provide assistance to the Navajo people. The experience was an opportunity not to be missed and was adopted by the men of the Farmington Corps who helped deliver food, toys, clothing and quilts to 50 homes across a dramatic and vast landscape.
The Navajo culture embraces the concept of family, caring for and providing for the senior generation, who in most cases still live a very traditional lifestyle. Each home to be visited required a significant amount of travel time over some of the roughest terrain a 15-passenger van could be subjected to. Many of the homes visited where the traditional “hogan,” which quite simply is a single-room, hexagonal-shaped building with a wood-burning stove in the middle. Outside it was not uncommon to find a small herd of sheep, rams, chicken and various other animals housed in a stable made from branches and covered with a mud and straw roof. About 100 yards from the main structure you invariably find a small outhouse, as most homes are often without the luxury of running water.
“As we left the reservation having distributed more than 1000 lbs of food, toys, coats and blankets, one particular individual impacted us with his smile in a way we will never forget,” said Jonathan Harvey. “You see, the ministry of the Farmington Corps that day went far beyond the provision of physical assistance, reaching the very core of holistic ministry by sharing the love of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ and offering the gift of Salvation.
“Alfred, who is blind, was 74 years old on the day we visited. He lives in a small hogan, 25 miles from the nearest trading post and some 50 miles from any degree of civilization. Alfred has no family close by. He never married and consequently has no children. As our guide translated our greetings into Navajo, Alfred’s smile began to beam, but the best was yet to come. Our group decided it would be nice if we sang Happy Birthday to Alfred. Although he spoke no English, it was evident that Alfred knew exactly what was going on. The smile that permeated from his face was enough to melt the ice and snow that laid on the ground around us and while we have no way of knowing how long it had been since he had celebrated his birthday with others, his smile demonstrated gratitude, appreciation and a sense of comfort. Before leaving, our group joined hands with him and shared a spirit-filled time of prayer and praise, ministering to a man forgotten by the world, yet no less loved by God.
Be assured that the work of The Salvation Army is vibrant and alive in and around Farmington, New Mexico!