the Austin family !
Joshua S. Austin
132 Ponderosa Drive
Duncan, AZ 85534
Thank you for taking the time to read this information. We are in a challenging situation right now. The economy is struggling, which directly affects the money coming into the church budget. There are still so many good works in the Lord’s church that are in need of support. Some congregations are changing to make more of a concentrated effort in their mission works.
How can a congregation be more effective in their mission efforts? Let me share three tremendous advantages of domestic mission opportunities.
1st: Personal/Physical involvement - The gospel is needed everywhere, but when we are involved in a domestic mission work in our own back yard we are easily able to physically be a part of it. When brethren personally participate in the work they financially support, there is an immediate emotional connection - with the workers & the work itself. The church is also able to check on the missionary and the work with less difficulty.
2nd: Cost Effectiveness - It is more economical to send visiting brethren on a domestic mission than to face the greater financial burden to send them overseas. For the same amount of money, you can send more people on a short term mission trip in the States than only a few overseas.
3rd: Spiritual Growth – The hands-on experience of being in the mission field cultivates & nurtures the participant’s spiritual growth because they are able to fight in the spiritual warfare in areas & cultures that are far different from what they are accustomed to at home. We have seen this develop across the ages. Mission trips have quite a history of changing people & helping to develop real servants in the kingdom.
I’d like to introduce you to a new mission opportunity in Phoenix, AZ. After 27 years on the Navajo reservation, a common theme is seen: move to Phoenix for educational & job opportunities. In the nine years of preaching on the Navajo reservation we saw 15 people leave our congregation to Phoenix. Sadly, most have been unfaithful.
There has been a need for a Native American outreach in the Phoenix area for quite some time. There are over 120,000 Native Americans in the Phoenix metro area (see map attached); in comparison Denver has approximately 10,000 and Albuquerque has 30,000. Currently there are only about 15-20 Native Americans worshipping in all of Phoenix. There is a tremendous need to reach the Natives.
Based on my unique background of being born and raised on the reservation, planting a congregation and preaching for nine years on the reservation, I believe this is a work we need to be invested in. I see great potential in reaching the Natives, who are currently overlooked or underserved. By God’s grace we want to evangelize a wonderful group of people that are in need of the truth. We want to serve in a way that not many people have the desire or ability to do. Just as there are on the Navajo Reservation, there are people currently in Phoenix that will someday be preaching & teaching the gospel.
My mission is evangelize the Native American population in the Phoenix metro area and plant a congregation and to equip young men and women to go back to their respective reservations to spread the gospel. I urge you to partner up with us in this endeavor.
In His service,
Short-term (6 mon. – 1 year)
- Have heavy evangelistic outreach methods
- House to House, Heart to Heart
- Ads in the newspaper
- Get involved in community activities
- Basketball coach
- Indian Center – volunteer
- Attend Pow wows & Native American parades
- Visit and/or call everyone on our contacts list within the first two months – our warmest contacts from prior work and/or reservation
- Set up studies in their homes ((2) group Bible studies per week)
- Central Phoenix
- Pima Community
- Gila River Community
- Teach them the gospel and help them to become disciples of Christ (3-4 personal Bible studies per week)
- By September 1st, have a consistent place to worship on Sundays
- Have 15-20 people attending by Jan. 1, 2014
- Help to equip the congregation to become strong and working for the Lord
- We will have training classes once a month to help the men and women learn to better fulfill their roles in the church (if there is greater interest, we may do this once a week)
- Have at least two campaigns per year (one in the fall and one in the spring)
- These will include door knocking, flyering, gospel meetings and/or seminars.
- Our focus will be to strengthen families (marriage seminars; parenting seminars, etc)
- We also want to help in the growth of supporting congregations
- Have several groups out per year (primarily supporting congregations) to help with
- Vacation Bible School
- Gospel meetings
- Service projects
- Special events that might require some help.
Knowing the extreme temperatures in the summer, we will have to plan for time of year and what types of activities we will be doing.
- Have a fully functioning healthy body consistently reaching out to the Natives
- Have 60-70 people attending in 5 years
- Have the congregation supporting the preacher at least half of his salary in 5 yrs
- Work with sister congregations on the Navajo reservation (teach, evangelize and encourage)
- Help to develop leaders that will be able to go into other reservations.
- Look to help plant other native congregations (Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Sioux, etc)
- Have a self-supporting; self-replicating congregation
- We want to help build a congregation to maturity over the next 10-15 years.
Who are we going to? Ultimately to all nations; but primarily we are going to be reaching out to the Native American people. There are over 120,000 native people just in the Phoenix area. This is the highest concentration in the U.S. Approximately 60% of these people are Navajo. The rest are from the Apache, Zuni, Hopi and Pima tribes (to name a few).
[Religion] The Native American people are a very religious people. The beliefs range from traditional practices to Jehovah’s Witnesses and everything in between. Based on personal experience, at least half of all these people have been exposed to a little bit of Christianity at some point in their lives. Spirituality and prayer is a major part of the culture. This is encouraging considering the article by Joe Kovacs, “Massive Number of U.S. cities abandon the Bible.” It says that Phoenix has only 17% of the people in that city who value the Bible. He goes on to qualify this as “those who typically read the Bible each week and who strongly assert Scripture is accurate in the principles it teaches.” In comparison, New York City had 18% and San Francisco came in at 16% of the people valuing the Bible. When thinking about the people who live in New York City and San Francisco, I don’t usually think of Christian-minded folks. However, it was a big surprise to see that Phoenix ranked between these two cities! (Find out which places have most (and least) respect for Scripture 1/31/2013
By Joe Kovacs, an award-winning journalist and, since 1999, executive news editor of WND. Read more at:
[People] Phoenix is a place where many Native people come for jobs, education or to have a better opportunity for their families. There are those who have been born and raised in the city and then there are those who have been born and raised on tribal lands that have moved to the city. It is a significant cultural adjustment for those natives moving from small towns on the reservation to the big city. There are many challenges of moving to Phoenix. There is the cultural change (small town to big city), the demographics change (going from a majority race to a minority race) and a change on how things are done (reservation life to off reservation life). We want to reach those people who are searching for the familiar; most importantly those who are seeking to be established in Christ.
Where is the mission field? Phoenix, AZ the 5th largest city in America and is currently the 8th fastest growing city in America. There are over 4 million people in the metro area. Phoenix is centrally located in Arizona. There are 20 tribes or reservations throughout Arizona and at some point, many of these people end up as “transplants” in the Phoenix area.
When will the work begin? Lord willing, our goal is to be moved in and ready to work by July 1, 2013. There has been a great interest from churches to help with the work.
Why Phoenix and the Natives? There is a need. There is a need for the gospel of Jesus among all people, but it seems there has not been as much attention placed on reaching the Native Americans in this country. We saw this on the Navajo reservation and we hear about the same need for those who are close to other reservations. After being in Kayenta for 27 years, there is a consistent story of people moving to Phoenix for jobs and education. So based on observation and now looking at the statistics there is a great number of Natives living in Phoenix. There is a higher concentration of Natives in Phoenix.
We want to be where most of the people are. The Navajo reservation is the largest reservation and has the most people on it, but it is also spread out over a span as large as the state of West Virginia. Phoenix is a large city, but within an hour drive you can be in reach of 120,000 native souls.
Since Phoenix has a higher percentage of Native people, it would be reasonable to think that the number of native Christians would be more, but in fact there are maybe 15-20 Christians (a generous estimate) that are Native American in all of Phoenix. The Natives are struggling in their faith and often times this struggle can be attributed to a cultural difference in the church. There are Christians who just never seem to connect with a congregation and then fall away. Many of the larger congregations don’t even know that another soul has slipped away, or they did not know how to reach them.
With my unique background I believe I will be able to reach the Native people. I believe I am able to present the gospel in a way that connects with them. I believe I have the experience to help encourage them to grow and mature in their faith. It will be a difficult work, but nevertheless, one that must not be overlooked. They have almost become like a forgotten people. We want to bring the truth to these precious souls.
How do we reach the people? Our first priority has been to find the people. With Phoenix being so spread out and the Native people spread out as well, we have looked for pockets that have a higher percentage of Native people. We have found two main areas so far: central Phoenix and N.W. Mesa. With this information it gives us a better idea of where to live, where to focus our evangelism efforts and where to have our meeting places.
Our plan is to live in the Mesa area and get our family involved with as many Native American activities as we can. Living in Mesa will also put us close to the Salt River Pima community. There are about 3-4,000 Natives that live in that community.
Since there are two areas and they are about 15-20 minutes apart from each other, we are planning on having Bible studies set in each of these locations during the week. For example, we would have a Tuesday night Bible study in Central Phoenix and then have a Wednesday night study in Mesa. Then we will have one location on Sunday for our worship services. Right now we have not made a final decision on the exact location, but have several options. One option is on the Pima Community Land, but the buildings are limited and it is not possible to buy land there. A second option is in Central Phoenix at the Indian Center or at a school in that same vicinity. A third option is in Mesa at a school which is close to the Pima community. We are exploring more opportunities as we know the Lord will open more doors.
The other ways to reach the Native people will be through “saturation evangelism.” We plan on putting out as many seeds as possible to reach the Native communities. We are planning on using mass mailings, ads in newspapers, website, door knocking, service projects, volunteering, and even TV and radio at certain times. Word of mouth will be one of our most heavily relied on forms of evangelism. Once you have someone excited about the Lord and what they are learning, they will share that with others they know.
There is some caution as we want to focus our evangelism efforts toward the Native American people, but we do not want to make this an exclusive church. God loves all people and wants all to be saved. Therefore, this congregation will be made up of a variety of people, but our focus will be to reach those from a Native ancestry.
What will we do: What to be involved in? There are several opportunities.
- Salt River Community. This is an agricultural place that does not have a high density of people, but we believe the schools could be a great outreach for us.
- Phoenix Indian Center, which is located in central Phoenix. There are more volunteer opportunities here. This facility has nearly ever capability of helping the Native community in one place. We are still exploring the possibilities here.
- Colleges. Scottsdale Community College, Mesa Community College and Arizona State University have about 8-10,000 Native American students that we would like to be able to reach.
- Lehi Elementary School in Mesa. This school has 25% of its students claiming a Native American heritage. To coach, substitute teach or have our children involved in some of the afterschool activities are ways we are looking to make some relationships and future Bible studies.
- Social Events: we will be targeting social events that are heavily attended by the Natives. For example: the State Volleyball and Basketball tournaments, Pow Wows, all Indian Tournaments and the state fair. Any and every way we can be a part of the people we want to find it.
- Volunteers: We would like to invite sister congregations to send groups to Phoenix to be a part of the work in starting a new congregation. Through our contacts we want to be able to knock doors, have meetings and seminars, conduct service projects for those in need and have Vacation Bible Schools. We believe that the brethren who come out will be blessed as well as the people we are trying to reach out to.
You can let us know you have prayerfully chosen to support us by mailing back to us the bottom portion of this page. Please send all checks addressed to Graymere church of Christ, and they will see to it that our account is credited. Any amount is appreciated. We humbly thank you and pray that the grace of the Lord will be with you!
Financial Support for Josh Austin
(time frame to be supported)
Please make all checks payable to:
Graymere church of Christ
1320 Trotwood Avenue
Columbia, TN 38401
Note on check: support for Josh Austin
Please mail this completed section to:
132 Ponderosa Drive
Duncan, AZ 85534
You may also contact Josh at 720-626-2171 or by sending an email to:email@example.com
Financial Support for Josh Austin
(from __________ to __________)
Dear Brethren of the Church of Christ:
Having served as an elder for eighteen years at the Graymere Church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee, I would like to personally recommend the mission efforts of Josh Austin with Native American Indians in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
My first personal opportunity to meet Josh was in 2005 when he attended Columbia Bible Institute (CBI), an intense week-long Bible school for preachers under the oversight of the Graymere elders. Classes were given by Dr. Tom Holland and the late Dr. William Woodson, both long-time Bible professors and gospel preachers in Western and Middle Tennessee. Josh also attended CBI in 2007, and a third time in 2010. Josh preached at Graymere during his visits for CBI and did an excellent job each time.
The congregation at Graymere was first introduced to Josh in 2005 when our youth minister at that time, Rusty Pettus, led a group of teens and adults to Kayenta, Arizona, on a mission trip. Josh and Divine were working with the Navajo Indians on the Navajo Indian Reservation. A subsequent mission trip was made by teens and adults in 2006. In January, 2007, the Graymere congregation began partial financial support for Josh. In April, 2007, Virgil Lewis one of our deacons, took a construction team to help with Kayenta’s new church building. In May, 2007, a second team went to Kayenta to continue with the construction project.
Three years later, in May, 2010, Chuck Wortman, a fellow elder, and I, plus our wives, took a trip to Kayenta, Arizona, to see the work first hand. We visited in the Austin home, and we worshipped with their congregation at both services on Sunday and were favorably impressed with Josh’s lessons, the congregation in general, and the way in which we were received by both members and non-members. Our wives held a question-and-answer session and fellowship with the ladies of the congregation following evening worship. The Austin family has also visited in our home for a fellowship meal and discussion of the mission work in Kayenta.
Josh and Divine, his wife, have four young children whom they are teaching and training in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Divine has been a home-school teacher for their children several years. With her love for the Lord, she has proven to be a loving and caring mother, as well as a wonderful partner with Josh in his work.
In my estimation, Josh Austin is uniquely qualified to minister to the Native American population in the Phoenix area because of his many years of experience in living and working on the Navajo Reservation. Because Josh grew up on the Reservation, attended school there, and worked with his father, a minister on the Reservation, he understands the culture and the struggles with traditions of the Navajo people. Josh has a sincere love of the Lord and His Church and a willingness to reach lost souls with the gospel. The Graymere congregation plans to take a very active role in the work that Josh has outlined for Phoenix. As the Graymere elders will have the oversight of this work, we plan to visit and assist in various capacities to spread the gospel in the Phoenix area.
In His Service,
Dr. Fred L. Porter(Elder of Missions at the Graymere Church of Christ in Columbia, Tn