First Christian Church youth to help in South Dakota camp

Friday, March 20, 2015

Nevada Daily Mail

This summer, five students from First Christian Church's youth group and about four adult sponsors will travel to Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota to help with a camp for first through third grade girls, June 22-28.

Youth minister Jeremiah Howze participated in the camp hosted by Diamond Willow Ministries for Native Americans last summer with three high school boys from a church in Ferguson, where he worked before he became the full-time youth minister at First Christian in July.

"By the end of the week, the boys were in tears," Howze said of the students he took last summer when it came time for them to leave the elementary girls.

The reservation is located in Southeast South Dakota, and Howse said the nature in that area is "magnificently beautiful." But he said that beauty is in stark contrast to some characteristics of the county, which is one of the poorest in the United States and suffers from high unemployment as well as teen pregnancy and physical abuse.

Howze said a significant percentage of the men on the reservation suffer from addictions such as to drugs or alcohol, leading to many homes being without consistent, male figures. Another result attributed to that fact is the high suicide rate among Native American teens, often about 60 percent higher than other teens in the nation.

"Working with American Indians is difficult," Howze said, saying they often do not trust others from outside their community. "What we want to do is come in and give them hope again ...They're doing this by really loving the people."

The students will lead Bible stories with the children as well as doing crafts, playing games and leading music with the young girls. They will help host an overnight event on Friday to close out the week.

Each student will pay $315 for the trip, which will cover their own needs as well as provide funding so the young girls can participate in the camp at little to no cost.

Howze said they have already held one fundraising event and plan on inviting anyone in the community to attend a trivia night and silent auction in early May in order to reach their goal of raising $2,000 for the youth mission trip.

In the week leading up to the trip, Howze said he and the students plan to prepare themselves through a 30-hour time of fasting, prayer and Bible studies. The First Christian youth will partner with other youth groups from Katy, Texas, as well as the youth from the church in Ferguson Howze went with last summer.

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