faith in action

Ministry With: Clinton Indian Church and Community Center

We spoke to Rev. Pewo to learn more about her work in Clinton, Oklahoma and the role relationships have played in the ministry.

Ministry With - Clinton Indian Community Center

Relationships are central to the focus area of Ministry With the Poor. Building meaningful relationships with our neighbors teaches us about the needs of our community. It is only then that, through these relationships, we can work together for sustainable and transformational solutions so that all may experience God’s promise of abundant life. But in thinking about the end goal, we must not forget the building blocks that will lead us there: relationships.

Rev. Donna Pewo of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference understands the importance of relationships. Because of the historical damage inflicted upon the Native people in the United States and the unique challenges they continue to experience today, relationships have been essential to her ministry.

We spoke to Rev. Pewo to learn more about her work in Clinton, Oklahoma and the role relationships have played in the ministry.

Tell us about the ministry

The Clinton Indian Church and Community Center is present to give opportunity to Native children in the church and surrounding community to become involved in living out the Gospel of God’s love, mercy and justice for all.

What dream is the ministry pursuing?

With the emphasis on Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal children and young people, our desire is to empower and encourage children to fulfill their potential and to dream of a future of hope. With a positive emphasis on the rich cultural background of these children and the church’s concept of mission, we trust that life and freedom in Jesus Christ will shine through in all the work we do and through the power of Jesus Christ we can undo past damage inflicted by the Church on Native people of this area and begin a positive relationship between the church and community.

Is there a particular moment and memory that stands out for you?

One of the most admired moments I can recall is after each Free Haircut Day the ministry offers to the community families. At the end of the day it brings joy to my heart to think about all the smiles I witness after each haircut, especially with the children. Those smiles are imprinted in my memory and in my heart. To hear the thank you from parents for what many of us consider an everyday basic need, helps me understand the plight of many parents. I hear the relief in parents’ voices who many times struggle to just get something so simple as a haircut for their children. It is humbling feeling for me. The smiles speak louder than words.

What role have relationships played in the life of your ministry?

Relationships are crucial in the life of the Clinton ministry. They are what intertwine us together as partners in covenant and building bridges between cultures. The Clinton ministry has many strong relationships with those who connect with the children, young people and families of the community. Building relationships include gaining history knowledge of the people you serve in ministry. Although I am of Native American decent, I clearly knew I needed to learn about the history of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma. In order for me to serve this community and meet their needs I needed to know more about the history in order to recognize and understand the tribal communities’ challenges and struggles.

What have your neighbors taught you in doing this work?

The people of the native community have taught me perseverance. The amazing people of the community work diligently to provide the needs of their families with the resources available to them. Support and encouragement along with resources for parents, guardians, and grandparents raising children are greatly necessary in the community I serve. We support one another by our trust and faith in knowing God will meet our daily needs. God is our source of strength, but then we find strength in each other as well.

What challenges have you encountered, and how have you adapted?

Mental Health issues are a challenge in the native community. The effects of mental health problems ravage the community. Many households deal with symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction, along with domestic violence abuse. This addiction runs rapid within the community and town. The Clinton ministry has worked with the local tribes in offering programs geared toward prevention of drug and alcohol abuse within native American youth. Our focus is to work with youth through various projects and activities geared for this age group. The Clinton center works with the tribal health office in actively sponsoring health fairs and other preventive events to reach the native population in western Oklahoma.

What advice would you give to others who are working to be in ministry with?

Embrace the diverse people of your community. Learn the culture and its rich history in order to understand the challenges they face. Be patient, remember your sense of timing will not always be the same as others in a different cultural community. Get to know the people! Yes, programming is important but building relationships and friendships will last a lifetime.

How can people contact you if they are inspired by your ministry?

Contact information:

Facebook Page: Clinton Indian Church and Community Center

Contact: 405-550-0141