Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NEW AMOR LOCATION? APACHE RESERVATION!

I had the humble experience today of visiting the San Carlos Apache Reservation, just a two hour drive east of Phoenix, Arizona with the Executive Director of the Arizona Reservation Ministries (ARM) , Dale Lawrence and his wife, Diana, who have directed this ministry for eight years. The Lawrence's recently called Gayla and asked if Amor would consider partnering with them to provide desperately needed housing for the Apache Indians.














San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona

The San Carlos Apache Nation is the third largest reservation in the state of Arizona and with the shocking unemployment rate of more than 75%. This reservation, located in central Arizona, of nearly 3,000 square miles, encompassing 1.8 million acres, boasts a population of some 16,000 (over half of which are under 18) and is the 10th largest American Indian reservation in land area.

The San Carlos Reservation is one of the poorest Native American communities in the United States, with the median annual household income being approximately $14,000. About 77% of the people live under the poverty line. San Carlos was, for a time, even the home to the legendary Apache chief Geronimo.

According to ARM, “The climate in San Carlos from October to April is warm enough to do just about anything.” During the summer months, they suggest working in the mornings, rest in the afternoons, and then head back out to the reservation for ministry opportunities. At 2,600 feet elevation, San Carlos has a temperate semi-arid climate. Summer daytime temperatures range from 90-100 degrees, dropping to the mid-60s or mid-70s at night. Summer, the rainiest season, brings approximately 3-4 inches of rain.

"Nearly everyone on the Reservation speaks English, but you experience a very different culture as you enter the Sovereign land."

Amor has been asked to partner with ARM to build upwards of 1,600 homes on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. In 2005, a representative from ARM had the privilege of meeting with the tribal Chairwoman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. In that meeting, her face lit up when asked if ARM could help with the need for additional homes for her people. A meeting then followed with the Tribal Housing Authority. There the difficult statistics were revealed: if 135 homes were constructed each year for the next ten years, it would only meet the needs at that time.














Poverty On The San Carlos Reservation Have Lead To Terrible
Housing Conditions


The Chairwoman stressed that there is a dire housing shortage on the Reservation, “There are approximately 2400 families on the Reservation in need of homes. 39% of families live in substandard housing and 40% of the families live in overcrowded conditions. Council members and the San Carlos Housing Authority receive at least 6 visits a day from families who have no place to go and are in desperate need of housing. Local community leaders say that it is heartbreaking to tell these families that the waiting list it too long and that there are no homes for them.”














Apache Families Will Occupy Anything That They Can Find

Homes on the San Carlos Apache Reservation range from the size and appearance of a garden shed to over 1,300 square feet. Within the walls of these larger homes, as many as 20 people, sometimes up to 4 families, may reside, most waiting for over 15 years for a home of their own. For many, cramped quarters, un-safe living conditions and poverty contribute to a vicious cycle where “home” is not a safe place to reside. The need for adequate housing is urgent. Chuck Hill, a San Carlos Reservation Housing Council representative, local church leader, and a San Carlo's Apache told us today that it far too common that in a three bedroom home there are four families living there: one family in each bedroom and another in the living room.

We almost couldn’t believe our ears when Chuck told us that his son had been on several Amor trips to Mexico. Chuck said he remembers mostly his son saying, “Man Dad, we had to use handsaws!” Only recently Chuck has become extremely frustrated with the difficult and timely processes of trying to get adequate housing for his people. “I thought recently, ‘I am quitting this housing thing. Its too frustrating. But, maybe this is about God getting me back to this. There is a need for well over 1,500 homes today.”














Families Are Living In Cars, Crumbling Trailers, and Dilapidated Dwellings

“The need is so severe there is no way we can meet the need on our own”, shared Dale Lawrence of ARM. After seeing this need personally Steve Horrex, Amor’s Vice President of Global Expansion, said, “the need is so great and we have an opportunity to make a real difference here by sharing God’s love in a tangible and life changing way, building homes for these very, very needy Apache families.” Steve, who is already in the process of identifying several churches to work with on the Reservation also went on to say, “I can see us working in concert together with ARM. Our goal will be to be here year round. We want to make difference, a long term difference.




















Arizona Reservation Ministries Has Contacted Amor to Partner With Them

Amor is prayerfully considering establishing a base of operation at the San Carlos Indian Reservation to work in partnership with the Arizona Reservation Ministry and the Apache Nation to build homes for these needy families.














The Need For Adequate Homes For the Apache Is All Too Obvious

As we were returning to Phoenix today after this trip I shared with the Amor team who I traveled with, “We can learn from the challenges that the Apache’s have had to deal with in terms of their traditional values and their lives as Christians. It’s a great dialogue and discussion for us to have with our youth who are also wrestling with living life in a post modern teen culture and doing their best to live as a Christian youth in that culture.”














ARM Volunteers Building Home For San Carlos Apache Family

The need and opportunity for Amor and countless youth groups from around the world to serve on the Apache Reservation is truly a call to action. A call from the Lawrence’s, a couple who have dedicated their lives to loving and serving the Apache people will all of their hearts and all their God given abilities. This is a call to prayer and a call for Amor and ARM to humbly consider joining together in serving our friends and neighbors of our Apache community.

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