As the Native American ministry partner for Oklahoma Baptists, Emerson partners with the 189 Native American churches who are affiliated with Oklahoma Baptists. His ministry focuses on encouraging pastors, strengthening churches, planting churches and developing leaders. He feels blessed to spend time with pastors and congregations many of whom are laboring faithfully in difficult environments.
Ministry among Native American is especially difficult because of the unfavorable history Christians have with Native Americans.
“Native Americans have not had a favorable history with Christianity,” Emerson said. “Recent news about the Christian boarding schools of the past have not made it easier. Many Native children were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in boarding schools where they were forcibly anglicized. Sadly, recent news organizations have reported the children were abused and buried in unmarked graves. Additionally, unchurched Native people view Christianity as a ‘white man’s religion.’”
But the message of Christ is for all people, and it often takes developing relationships for people to see that.
“Through a recovery program, I met a person who was heavily into alcohol and drugs,” Emerson said. “He lived on the streets. He received a gunshot wound, and the emergency room nurse told him he was going to die. She asked if he wanted a priest or minister. He did not. He survived, and I became his friend and was able to lead him to the Lord. Today, he is active in leading others to the Lord through a recovery program.”
Emerson asks for prayer to find the missional code for reaching unchurched Native Americans, 90 percent of whom are lost. Pray Native churches will be healthy and will effectively reach the unchurched in their communities. Pray also that new pastoral leaders will be discovered and equipped for ministry.
On Nov. 7, Oklahoma Baptists celebrated Emerson with a retirement reception. Though he is retiring from working in a full-time capacity, he will continue in this role in a part-time capacity for Oklahoma Baptists.
Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together.
Emerson Falls is featured in the 2023 Missionary Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. For more information about the Cooperative Program, visit oklahomabaptists.org/cp.