Would Jesus Listen To My Story?
In November 2016, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sent Calvin College student Adrienne Hall to Would Jesus Eat Frybread, a conference for Native American students put on by Intervarsity, Cru, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
A reflection by Adrienne Hall:
At the conference, over 85 Native American tribes were represented, and different languages, performances, and stories were shared by students and elders.
Being only a quarter Yupik Eskimo, growing up without learning the language or being surrounded by Yupik culture, and not being close with my mother’s side of the family, I wouldn’t say that I do, or did identify strongly as Yupik Eskimo. Yes, it’s a part of who I am, but it hasn’t affected or changed my life or world view greatly. However, throughout my time in college, and especially while I was studying abroad, as well as at this conference, I’ve been encouraged by getting to know people from different backgrounds and cultures to learn more about my own roots.
At the conference, some key questions were: Can I be Native and Christian? Would Jesus listen to my story? Would Jesus submit to the same oppression Native Americans have encountered throughout history? The answer, of course, is yes. Directly addressing this question, Mark Charles spoke about the history of frybread itself. Frybread was first made during the “Long Walk,” when over 10,000 Navajos and Mescalero Apaches were forced to march to Bosque Redondo, a remote reservation in eastern New Mexico. Almost a third of the people who moved there died of disease, exposure, or hunger. At that time, the Federal government provided meager food supplies including white flour, sugar, and lard, and with these the first frybread was made. Throughout generations, frybread has slowly been contextualized and is now a staple for Native American communities. Yet, even today the food first used to avoid starvation has helped in causing a health crisis in those communities.
Looking at this, Mark Charles asserted that we can be comforted in the fact that Jesus does identify with “us,” whoever that may be. He loves and calls all, He submits to the same oppression-whether that be the health crisis of the Native American community or the Long Walk, He died for all, and He lives so that we might live again for Him.
Perhaps the most beautiful part about the conference was the fact that each and every person there celebrated their culture and traditions while simultaneously being united as brothers and sisters in Christ. The experience was one I would recommend to anyone, and I’m so thankful that the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sent me there.