Garbed in full Native American headdress with a bead medallion around his neck that read "Jesus Loves Me," the great-grandson of Apache chief Geronimo told a crowd of more than 14,000 New Mexicans that the words of an old Bible he was about to toss into a wood stove brought him new life.
Reynard Faber, a recovering alcoholic, left his life as a tribal medicine man to become one of the few Native American evangelists to 150,000 New Mexican Native Americans. He says, "I'm seeing Native people come to Jesus like never before."
Faber shared his testimony on "Native American night" at the beginning of the five-night Festival '98, May 6-10 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
The event marked the first time that Billy Graham and his son Franklin shared preaching responsibilities at a U.S. crusade. Franklin preached the first three nights, Billy the two weekend services, to a total of 103,369 people. Franklin had preached in Farmington, New Mexico, in 1996. The elder Graham held crusades in Albuquerque in 1952 and 1975.
RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION: Native Americans find themselves torn between two cultures when they become Christians. "We want to be part of our community, but sometimes we just don't fit in," says Lorraine Galegos of the Santa Ana pueblo, one of 19 in the state. "We're kind of outcasts in our village, because we belong to another church." Only Roman Catholics have a church on the Native American land.
Christianity is viewed as an Anglo religion and a threat to Native American traditions. Darren Vicenti, a member of the Jicarilla Apache tribe, is the only Christian in his family. "There is a lot of pressure among those that have accepted the Lord." He says other tribe members say, " 'You're just trying to be a ...1
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