DAVIS—The word “ambassador” was used multiple times during the event. Those in attendance knew the description was deserving.

Native Praise will celebrate 25 years next year with plans of doing a choir tour.

Native American LINK (Living in Neighborly Kindness) celebrated 25 years of ministry with a celebration ceremony during Indian Falls Creek on Aug. 2. The most prominent element of Native American LINK is the Native Praise choir, which sang songs in native languages as well as in English during the program.

Native American LINK provides ministry opportunities; supports, promotes and participates in mission work; provides training opportunities; and offers outreach programs in Western Oklahoma.

Augusta “Gus” Smith, executive director of Native American LINK, emceed the celebration ceremony, paying tribute to Willene Pierce, founder of the ministry, who passed away in 2014. Smith recalled what Pierce said when she stepped down as executive director.

Gus Smith shares a brief history report of Native American LINK.

“She gave us options of how we can handle the ministry,” Smith said about Pierce. “The last option she gave us was to disband. Then she walked away and said, ‘You all decide.’ We decided we would not disband. That would be so disrespectful of everything she accomplished. We have carried on, and we are excited about beginning the next 25 years!”

Native Praise also was founded by Pierce, and the choir will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year with plans of doing a choir tour.

“Indeed, you are our ambassadors,” said Emerson Falls, Native American ministry partner for Oklahoma Baptists, during the celebration event. “Every chance I get, I recommend this group to sing. They’ve been all over the nation and the world having represented us well.”

Native Praise sang twice at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, in 2002 and in 2014. The choir also performed and did mission work in England and in Ukraine.

Smith mentioned a special moment for Native Praise happened when Anthony Jordan retired as executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists.

“The only thing Dr. Jordan requested for his retirement celebration is to have Native Praise sing,” Smith said. “He looked at us as Oklahoma Ambassadors.”

Todd Fisher, current executive director-treasurer of Oklahoma Baptists, spoke during the celebration event, commending Native American LINK and Native Praise.

“LINK and Native Praise are some of the greatest ambassadors to Oklahoma and to our nation of the importance of Native American ministry,” Fisher said. “And the other thing is the role that women play in our churches and in the various ministries. Women have such an important role reaching so many people and serving in so many ways. I want to say ‘thank you.’”

Others who spoke during the event were Amy Cordova, missions and women’s ministry partner of Oklahoma Baptists; Julie Busler, Oklahoma WMU president; and Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director-treasurer of the national Woman’s Missionary Union.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin offers words of praise for the ministry work of Native American LINK.

“What you do matters,” Wisdom-Martin said to members of Native American LINK. “Your influence, your ministry, your life—it will reverberate for all eternity. Thank you for what you do. We celebrate 25 years with you.”

IFC ‘victorious’ with attendance and spiritual decisions

Total attendance for Indian Falls Creek (IFC) was 2,539. IFC also witnessed 104 professions of faith in Christ with 326 total spiritual decisions. The decisions included 27 committing to vocational ministry, and IFC also observed 12 baptisms during the four-day camp.

“IFC was an amazing camp, which resulted in our churches experiencing victory after victory!” said Victor Cope, IFC program director. “God showed up in a miraculous and mighty way! Indian Falls Creek is the largest gathering of Native Christians in the world. All in all, I and the IFC Board of Directors are very pleased at what God did at 2023 IFC.”