CHAOS youth minister on the Cheyenne River Reservation
Eagle Butte is one of America’s poorest areas
By Candice Carter
CHAOS Youth spent 9 days on a cross country mission trip to Eagle Butte, S.D. 51 people traveled 4,000 miles by charter bus across seven states to reach our destination.
Eagle Butte is one of America’s poorest areas with 60 percent of people living below poverty level and a 90 percent unemployment rate. The area is desolate and has very limited resources. Medical facilities and workers are very scarce as well. Drug and alcohol use is extremely high and many people have lost hope for a better life. Poverty has lurked over this reservation for many years.
Our trip was filled with many opportunities. When we started out the week in our prayer circle in small town Landis, we really didn’t know what was in front of us. We knew that we were being led to serve far away in South Dakota, and we were going to do our best to honor God.
We served at First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte, which is located on the Cheyenne River Reservation. We shared our God and our faith with children that face so much adversity in their lives on a daily basis.
We faced children from a community that didn’t really didn’t want to be at VBS, we faced children that didn’t really want to follow directions or listen, we faced hungry children, unkempt children, and young children that wandered the streets by themselves all day long and rode their bikes to VBS — but most of all we faced God’s children that He sent because they needed some extra love, care, and needed to be told about Jesus.
Our CHAOS mission team strived to share Jesus with these children in a unique way that would impact their lives in a positive way. We started with about 50 children Tuesday, increased to about 70 on Wednesday, and ended with more than 80 children in attendance.
We offered VBS for three nights and fed them a meal each night. Bible stories, crafts, songs and games helped us build strong connections and relationships with these kids that not only changed their lives, but ours as well.
As we sent these children back to their homes we sent love, prayers and God’s Word with them as well. These children were so excited to take home a full stomach, crafts, candy, prizes, but most of all a copy of the Holy Bible that was theirs to keep. It was amazing to see the transformation of these kids over the course of VBS. It was also amazing to see the transformation of our CHAOS youth over the same time frame.
Lots of tears were shed as we said our goodbyes and wrapped up VBS in Eagle Butte, S.D. Memories were made, relationships were formed, and lives were forever changed.
Afterward, as a group we shared our stories. God’s strength was shown by our own youth that shared their battles and personal testimonies, special connections made and how this experience changed us. We were also reminded of how blessed we all are in our personal lives, although we all struggle with personal difficulties.
We have driven many miles, experienced very long days and very short nights. We have learned about the Indian culture and history, seen God’s beautiful creation, and have shared and felt our God’s love.
CHAOS — Christians Hyped About Our Savior — is a joint ministry of the middle and high school youth from four congregations: St. Enoch Lutheran, Ebenezer Lutheran, Mt. Moriah Lutheran and Trinity Lutheran. Candice Carter has served as its full-time youth minister since 2004.