Spirit Lake Church Energized by Native Mission Trip

With COVID-19 restrictions lessening across the country in 2021, Idaho's Spirit Lake Adventist Church seized an opportunity to assist a new church plant on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Poplar, Montana. 

The Poplar church building project had been at a stand still for an entire year, due to the pandemic. The project was overdue for volunteer workers to help move it through to completion. 

Despite being in the middle of its own remodel project, the Spirit Lake Church decided to step out in faith and set a fundraising goal of $15,000 for Poplar. In addition, they hoped to recruit 20 volunteers for a mission trip to Poplar so they could work on the church building. 

When the time came to leave, the little church had raised $24,000 and had 45 volunteers signed up for the mission trip! 

While cleaning up the lot, digging and filling ditches, repairing surfaces, putting on stucco and painting interior walls, the Idaho volunteers became acquainted with local Native Americans in Poplar. They listened to their stories. 

One Native couple came up to the build site and surprised the workers by earnestly asking for baptism. The young husband had taken Bible studies in jail. The Adventist couple giving the studies had moved away due to health challenges. Now that the man was free the family wanted to be baptized.

Everyone felt a deep sense of solidarity as local Native families joined the visiting group of volunteers for the first Sabbath School and church held in the unfinished church building. During the service, Kris Simons, a local retired nurse, shared with tears of joy how she began praying for a church in Poplar more than 25 years ago. Her testimony showed how God used a small church from North Idaho to answer someone else’s prayers. Sacrifices made by donors and volunteers were undeniably worthy of celebration.

That same Sabbath, a college-aged Native man stayed the entire day until the last song was sung, the last verse read and the final prayer lifted late Sabbath evening. It was just a small taste of the hunger and openness of this community as it waits for a completed church with full-time missionaries.

The members of Spirit Lake Church were especially affirmed by the presence and support of busy administrators and directors. The mission trip included the best testimonies and sermons, including worship with Steve Huey, North Pacific Union Native ministries director; Dennis Page, pastor of the Village Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan; David and Cindy White, Adventist Frontier missionaries recently committed to moving to Poplar; and Ken Norton, Montana Conference president, whose Sabbath morning message inspired a deeper commitment to Adventist mission.

Poplar is the first Adventist Frontier Missions project in North America. It sends missionaries to unreached people groups in the most unreached areas around the world. Their partnership with the North Pacific Union Conference and the Montana Conference demonstrates the growing awareness of the great need in unreached Native communities. This project is a small glimpse of the unique blessings God can give when His people collaborate with a humble and cooperative spirit.