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Good Night, Darrell

May Newsletter, 2014  Rick McPherson

It was a large group of friends and family that gathered on a Saturday morning in April at the old Prairie Church in Vancouver, to remember and honor the life and ministry of Darrell Kennedy.  Tears and laughter blended together.  The classic hymns were sung.  Prayers and sermons were given.  Memories were shared.  It was a meaningful and significant time as we all recalled the blessings of knowing Darrell.   He impacted so many people from so many walks of life. 

The service featured several videos showing Darrell leading worship and singing.  One included him playing the piano and singing the beautiful, “I Want to See Jesus.”  Now, the words of that song have become a reality. 

Darrell had a wonderful history in Gospel music.  He travelled for years with The Challengers and many people recall him and the quartet sharing the stage with groups like; The Blackwood Brothers, The Happy Goodmans, The Spear Family and The Oak Ridge Boys. 

Darrell was the General Manager for radio station, KPDQ in Portland and hosted the popular, “Gospel Sing” on Saturday nights.  His rich baritone voice was his trademark and in the industry was envied for those golden, “pipes.”    After many years in radio ministry, Darrell joined the Frontier Missions team and served as the President and CEO for over ten years before his retirement in 2008.   During those years, “helping Native Americans, both physically and spiritually,” Darrell organized and directed multiple outreach trips and “crusades,” to the Reservations across the country. 

A major part of Darrell’s legacy is his wife Naomi,  their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.   I clearly recall a conversation with Darrell when he said that all of his family  were serving the Lord!  What a heritage!

During the memorial service, I couldn’t help but recall my personal story with Darrell.  Although I didn’t know him long, he impacted my life greatly.  In fact, God used Darrell in a very special  way.  If it wasn’t for Darrell, I wouldn’t be doing the work that I’m doing now.  You see, he called me one day when I was selling Corvettes and  Muscle Cars,  for  The Chevy Store in Portland and asked me if I would be available to speak at a couple of camps that the Mission was doing for the Nez Perce Reservation.     I had left the pastorate after a 35 year ministerial career and was seeking the Lord for “the next step.”  Darrell invited me.                  I said, “Yes.”  The next thing I knew, I was preaching under a tent in Idaho and the temperature was 107*.    When I look back,  I see how  God’s hand directed  both Darrell and me.   It was a wonderful friendship.

Now, Darrell’s work is done.  He has been promoted to his eternal home.  The Bible says, “… absent from the body, present with the Lord…”  And even though we will miss Darrell a lot, we are promised, “…  a hope that lies within us…”  There is coming a great Resurrection morning when we will be united with the Lord and reunited with loved ones who have gone before us.  So, until that time…        “Good night, Darrell, see you in the morning!”

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Did You Know?

April Newsletter, 2014  Rick McPherson

Not long ago, I used some of the following statistics in a talk.  I had read them and was startled, even shocked, because of the numbers.  Most of us never dream that there is a culture in our country that deals with such things.  But there is.

Did you know that Native Americans have the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the United States?  The poverty rate is 25 percent.  Native people living in Indian country have incomes that are less than half of the general U.S. population. 

Did you know that only 36 percent of males in high-poverty Native American communities have full-time, year-round employment?

Did you know that nearly 10 percent of all Native American families are homeless?  The rate of Native homes without electricity is 10 times the national average and 20 percent of Native homes have no running water. 

Did you know that the infant mortality rate among Native people is about 300 percent higher than the national average?

Did you know that the poorest county in the United States is the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota?  The unemployment rate there is a mind-boggling 80 percent.  Life expectancy on this reservation is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere, except for Haiti.

Did you know that the rates of violent victimization for both men and women are higher among Native Americans than for any other race?

Did you know that from 1999 to 2004, Native males in the 15 to 24 year old age group had the highest suicide rate compared to males of any other racial group?

It’s true when we read these facts that we can feel overwhelmed.  Perhaps we can even say, “What’s the use?  It’s hopeless.”

But before we despair, let me remind you that we as Christ followers are called to be two specific things…salt and light.  These two metaphors give us a practical application of how we are to live in the midst of a decaying and dark world.  You see it doesn’t take much salt to affect the flavor of the whole meal and it doesn’t take much light to drive the darkness from the room.  Jesus said:

“…that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Mt.5:13

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the little boy who was walking on the beach one day and found thousands of Starfish that had been washed up on the shore by the tide and stranded to die in the sun.  One by one, he began to pick them up and throw them back in the ocean.  A fellow beach-comber asked him what he was doing and he said, “I’m throwing these Starfish back in the water so they won’t die.”

“Well, there are thousands of them on the sand; you’ll never be able to throw them all back in the water.  What difference does it make any way?”  the stranger asked.

“It’ll make a big difference to the ones that I’m throwing back in the water!” said the boy. 

So it is with our work at Pacific NW Outreach.  We are following the directives of God’s Word to be salt and light…doing the best we can to glorify God.  And, we’re tossing as many Starfish as we can, back in the ocean.

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That’s A Lot Of Groceries

March Newsletter, 2014  Rick McPherson

Every time we take a trip, deliver groceries, do an outreach, preach a sermon or give a speech, we record it in our Ministry Log at Pacific NW Outreach.  By the end of the year our three ring note book is bulging.  I then take each report and tally the results for our Board of Directors’ Annual Meeting.  I admit there are a lot of statistics, but when you see the results I think you’ll agree that 2013 was a very busy and productive year of ministry, helping Native Americans. 

For example, we distributed over 16,800 family food boxes.  A family food box is a cardboard banana box that you’ve seen many times at the grocery store.  Did you ever wonder what they do with the boxes when the bananas are gone?  Well, we get as many as we can and use them to pack groceries for needy families.  Did you know that you can pack enough groceries in a banana box to feed two people for a week?  So, double the number of boxes and you see that we helped feed over 33,600 people last year.  That’s a lot of groceries!  And it includes other necessities, like boots, clothes, household supplies and anything else that we can fit on the truck for delivery to the reservations. 

To put this in perspective, let’s talk about value.  Specifically, let’s talk dollars.  How much money are we talking about?  If you value a food box at just $25.00, (and that’s a conservative number if you’ve been grocery shopping recently) you get, $420,000.00, and if you double that value to $50.00 a box you get, $840.000.00.  As I said, that’s a lot of groceries!  And remember, everything was given free of charge. 

Additionally we had over 265 people involved in our outreaches, travelled over 13,000 miles and attended or spoke at, an even dozen Pow Wows, churches and civic groups. 

But, I’ve saved the best for last.  You know that our mission statement is to help Native Americans, physically and spiritually.  We look for every opportunity with our ministry partners to tell the story of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. 

And when I get reports like this I just have to share them with you:

“We have seen close to 100 professions of faith and about 20 baptized this past year.  It is a blessing to have you as a vital part of our ministry.  May the Lord bless your work.”

That report comes from a local pastor who receives surplus bread from our ministry after we have served local Native Americans groups in the greater Portland/Vancouver area. 

Again, we give God the glory for His blessing and favor.  This is His work and we are privileged to be a part.  From the Quinault reservation in western Washington State, to the Crow Nation in Crow Agency, Montana we have crisscrossed the country and because of people like you who have prayed for us and supported us financially we have made a difference.  Thank you. 

So the next time you’re in the store, pay close attention to those banana boxes.  Think of 16,800 of them stacked up and filled with groceries.   You’re right, that’s a lot of groceries! 

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Two Coffee Mugs

January Newsletter, 2014 Rick McPherson

When I saw the new bike and wagon I couldn’t wait to load the truck and get them delivered to the Reservation before Christmas.  This year we were one of the charitable non-profits selected by Les Schwab Tire Centers and KGW TV 12 to receive toys and gifts for children.   I knew that I had just enough time to make one last trip before the Holiday.  With half the truck loaded with groceries and household supplies we packed all the toys and filled every space with action figures, puzzles, games, dolls and of course the bike and wagon. 

When I exited the Interstate past The Dalles, Oregon,  I made the turn back to the Celilo Indian Village on the Columbia River.  The Yakama Tribe have lived on these banks for generations and fished for Sturgeon and Salmon.  But on this particular afternoon the streets of the little village were empty and the Gorge wind was biting and cold. 

Karen and Fred Whitford,  our friends and contacts on the Reservation greeted me and were more than excited with the full truck load.  Several times as we emptied the truck, Karen came over and put her head on my shoulder.  She didn’t say a word but her gesture spoke volumes. 

Several days before, Lana, one of the ladies from the village had stopped by our office in Gresham and visited with us.  When she saw the truck she came over to help with the work and soon the groceries, household supplies of blankets, pillows, comforters and towels were safely off the truck and stacked neatly  in the carport.  The toys were handled like gold.  They were taken in the house to be sorted and then distributed to the children on the reservation. 

I asked Lana about her  Christmas plans.  She explained to me that her family was gone and no one was planning to be with her.  She hoped her  grandson would stay but was not sure that he would.  She went on to say that one of the family had been murdered and her relatives were scattered.  In a brief moment of time I was reminded again of the violence,  family abuse and hopelessness that characterize reservation life. 

I spoke to Lana of God’s love, acceptance and forgiveness.  She told me that she was a Believer and Christ was in her heart.  I encouraged her to take groceries, supplies and toys for her grandson and family and reminded her that I would be praying for her. 

As I dropped the big Detroit diesel into gear and headed down the street for the highway, Lana came down her driveway and stopped me .  She had two coffee mugs, one for Charlote, my wife,  and one for me.  On the mugs are pictures of the original Celilo Falls with Natives,  precariously perched on boards and logs by the rapids, fishing.  I held more than two coffee mugs in my hands, I held her heart. 

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Now the New Year has arrived and we are fully engaged with our mission, helping Native Americans both physically and spiritually.  There are so many “Lanas…so many Karens…so many Freds”  who need our help.

Will you help us by praying for us?  Will you help us financially?

Your gifts make all the difference in the world.  Thank you and God bless you!