USA (MNN) — Last year, Amber Crotty, of the 23rd Navajo Nation Council, was quoted as saying, “There is a huge suicide epidemic across all Indian Country,” in response to a spike in teen suicides.
First Nation communities are small, and none is untouched by the phenomenon. The Centers For Disease Control says the risk increases when relationships with family, peers, and the community are weak or non-existent, or when a person faces unexpected and unsolvable problems.
Bill Bucher is the Program Coordinator for World Gospel Mission. He’s got a heart for people living on the Navajo Reservation in Kirtland, New Mexico. “There’s a lot of depression, a lot of addictions, and really, a lot of hopelessness. When you introduce the concepts of the Gospel and of hope and of purpose in their life, it really seems to help turn that tide.”
The situation came to his attention a decade ago when one of the WGM workers started an after-school club in her home so her kids could get to know the neighborhood children. She invited kids over after school for play, snacks, and a small Bible lesson. Because she loved on the kids, word spread quickly and soon, the Neighborhood Club became a popular hang-out.
When the club outgrew her home, they found a larger space, but they knew they were going to have to make the temporary facility a more permanent one. Bucher says, “So now, the project is going to be building a larger multipurpose ministry center, to not only handle the needs for all the kids coming, but also have it as an outreach for the entire community on the Navajo Reservation in Kirtland.”
Three days a week, children and youth meet for club in a stucco house called Kirtland Ministry Center or The Neighborhood House. In addition to playing games and eating snacks, the kids are discipled through Bible lessons and Scripture memorization. Generally, these kids come from non-Christian families who do not attend church. Bucher asks, “What better place to start than with the kids in the home, that’s attractive to the families, the moms and dads, and then the entire community?”
Now, there’s a pastors group, a ladies group, and the local Chamber of Commerce that used Kirtland Ministry Center to meet, giving The Neighborhood House a widening reach. Growth is a good thing, but the Kirtland Ministry Center needs more space, so a new project launched, with the help of an auxiliary group called Men With Vision.
Bucher explains, “Our motto is actually ‘Praying, practicing, and promoting missions’.” This group is raising $40,000 this year to kick-start the building project. “That will put up a pole building that’s going to be this multi-purpose community outreach building. They’ll be able to have room for all the expanded activities: Bible studies, arts and crafts, [and] outreach.”
As you might imagine, there are a lot of logistics and planning that come into play with the construction of a building that large. Bucher asks you to pray with him that “my plans match up with what God has in mind, as well.” Plus, many hands make light work. “We’ll probably start work teams this summer, probably after June is what we’re targeting, and it’ll go all the way into 2018.”