Saturday, October 29, 2011


A sermon I heard a long time ago from Andy Stanley continues to impact and influence me today.

In the sermon, Stanley was looking at the life of Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer who was called by God to help restore the wall around Jerusalem after the Jewish people were exiled from that area. The king that Nehemiah was serving under allowed  him to go and do this work but he was met by all kinds of opposition; many distractions threatened to keep him from his God-appointed work of restoring the city. As people or things or situations attempted to distract him and call him away, Nehemiah’s response was “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3) The thing God had called him to do was his life’s work and he wouldn’t be distracted by other things that would lessen that focus no matter how worthy or important it seemed to be. He wanted to remain true to the calling that God had placed on his life.

This has been a huge influence in my life. I have been called to serve youth, Native American Youth at Flandreau Indian School specifically. There may be other things fighting for my attention, good things—worthy things for sure. It may be serving on a committee in town or becoming involved with a sports team or even becoming heavily involved in a local church. None of these things are bad things but as those things fight for my attention, I must remind myself often that God has called me to a specific task. I must say to myself “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

If you ask me to do something and I decline, don’t be disappointed, don’t take it personally. Just know “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


“Boys play house. Men build homes! Boys shack up. Men get married! Boys make babies. Men raise children! Boys invent excuses for failure. Men produce strategies for success! Boys look for somebody to take care of them. Men look for someone to take care of!!! Boys seek popularity. Men demand respect and know how to give it!!! Repost in HONOR of all the men who DO the right thing.”

This FaceBook status got me going this morning.  We are suffering for male role models in our society generally but certainly within the Indian community.  One of my greatest privileges is to represent a man of God who is committed to his wife and family. The greatest challenge is to get across to the boys on campus that being a man does not mean who can score with the most women or father the most children on the reservation.

Within the Native American Community a father, especially one who is in a married relationship with a child’s mother, is a rarity so for some of them this idea of fidelity is new information. They see adults hooking up without any sort of expectation of responsibility for what (or who) may result from their relationship.

It can take me a great deal of time to figure who is related to who on campus because often kids from the same family have different last names, different dads, live in different homes even. It’s not unusual for there to be six or eight or ten kids in the family and there to be four or five dads among them.

While exaggerated in Native American culture, I don’t think this is unique to the Indian population by the way. The sexual revolution has brought this about in many areas of our society.  Divorce rates and lowering of moral standards society wide have led to this lack of father figures and stable male influence in the lives of children.  Women have this longing to be loved by a man, any man, having lacked this component in childhood and move from one sexual partner to another in order to satisfy that longing.

Pray for me as I represent a Christian dad and husband to the Native American teenage community represented on campus. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I love when students share stuff that’s going on in their world and want me to see it so I can understand them a little better.

A student shared this video with me the other night. I was kind of surprised how much I liked it and could appreciate its message. It talks about how this young girl had only ever known disappointment, abuse and disillusionment in her relationships with men and how those poor relationships had caused her to make poor decisions in her life that eventually played out in the life of her children. And then it backs all the way up and replays her life if she had made different choices.

I think it’s a really telling video about how our choices will affect our children and how women have become so desperate to know love that they are willing to compromise themselves and give up self-respect in order to find it. I was really surprised by the source but am encouraged that an artist with this sort of influence can deliver this message to young listeners.

I think we often feel we know ourselves better than God. We try to run after relationships or careers because we are desperate for acceptance. We end up settling for good when God wants GREAT and we trade in our self-respect in order to get something that God never intended for us to have in the first place.

Take a minute to watch the video and I’d love to hear your comments.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I see part of my job as allowing kids to just be kids. I think we force our kids to grow up way too fast sometimes. Life and circumstances in the Native American culture forces kids to act as adults and to mask what’s really going on in their lives by showing a tough exterior to the world.

Having said all that, I get a big kick out of big tough guys who come into our program wanting to race rubber duckies or are dead serious when they say “I don’t want that flower, I want this one” in their freshly painted flower pot. I suppose there’s a little bit of competitiveness involved; they just aren't going to let anyone show them up no matter what the activity it is. They drop the tough guy persona for a few moments and allow themselves to enjoy life. It’s kind of refreshing that they can leave their troubles behind for a little bit.

I have to remember to program more moments that just allow them to let go of life for a little bit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Through the generosity of several churches and individual sponsors, I received enough quilts to be able to give a warm blanket to every student in the freshman class at our school this year. I don’t know if you’ve heard but it can get kind of cold in South Dakota. We woke up to 20 degrees this morning and we’re still in October.

It’s kind of amazing how God provides for all of our needs.  One church who has regularly given quilts came by a few weeks ago and gifted 55 quilts to the students. We have about 70 freshmen this year so I was going to come up a little short if I started distribution.  I was really excited but knew if I didn’t have enough to go around then I shouldn’t get started.

A few days later we got a knock on the door at home. Another quilt group in town had some more quilts ready to be passed out to the kids—15 to be exact. I think we’re all ready to go! God knows exactly what our needs are if we’ll just ask.

Please pray for new relationships over the next couple of weeks. I am personally going to meet face to face with 70 freshmen to give them each a quilt and introduce myself to them. Pray for opportunities!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I am a fairly new Tweeter (or Twitter-er) but as I get more involved I notice people constantly upgrading their technology to the newest model. I would be so grateful if you would consider donating some of your newer items that have simply been upgraded but are still perfectly usable. I could use a projector to plug into my laptop to be able to use technology more in my work with students. Before you get rid of it, consider passing it on!

Cleaning out that supply closet and can’t think of a use for it? Maybe it was last year’s evangelism handout or an overstock of art supplies. Perhaps it’s a box of tongue depressors or a case of…I don’t know what you’ve got but before you throw it away, contact me and find out if I can use it, if you don’t mind. You’d be surprised what we can turn into an outreach event based on just a couple of items.

Also, if there’s something that’s worked well for you reaching students in the past, feel free to pass it along. There was a great flip card that was used in the New York VBS from Lifeway last summer. Maybe it’s just the nature of my campus, but kids “take things” on a pretty regular basis from my office. It makes me laugh when students think they’re “stealing” things from me when they’re taking tracts or bibles or some other sort of handout that ultimately could lead a kid to Christ if they really understood the message of it.

Thanks for thinking of us!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Over the weekend, there was a pow-wow (celebration) put on for the students. There were various competitions of dance, drums, games and even flute playing. The kids were competing for gift certificates to local stores where they could shop for soft drinks, coffees, chips, etc. Many of the kids came away with prizes valued at $10-20.

Our boarding school campus is a closed campus which means students are not allowed on or off without adult supervision or being signed out by a close relative. I was out shopping yesterday for a couple of the students who had asked me to get them some things with their gift certificates. When I went into the store I noticed what I thought were a couple of our students at the cash register but unaccompanied by any staff member. A minute later a staff member came in and the students went out the front door.

It turns out the kids had been AWOL from the campus and were attempting to buy cough medicine with the gift certificates they had received. They were going to try to get high off of the prizes they had won.

I don’t know what it’s like in your area but we have a battle ground here with drugs and alcohol. Kids are always looking for the next way to get high. I have to keep my hand sanitizer locked up so kids don’t drink it. I always have to be on the lookout that something I mean to be completely innocent is taken and abused for students looking for the next high.

I know these are just symptoms of kids looking for something to take away the pain they’re going through.  I continue to witness to and pray for students to come to know the One who will take away their pain and fill them with the love they so desperately are searching for.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


If you missed the Diane Sawyer “20/20 Special-HIDDEN AMERICA: Children of the Plains” program on Friday night, then I’d encourage you to at least watch the trailers on the ABC Website (link below). We were really encouraged as a family that it was a true representation of just a few of the stories that make up the Pine Ridge Reservation. Remember though, for those few stories that were told there are thousands more with no one to tell their story.

We get a large number of our kids at Flandreau Indian School from Pine Ridge as well as many other tribes, often with the same sorts of issues. Our students have firsthand experience with alcoholism, teen pregnancy, drug addiction, suicide and abandonment. They have felt the pain personally of many of the problems that were highlighted in the Diane Sawyer piece.

We are making a difference in South Dakota! This year I have been able to pray with students at the loss of a loved one, had students pray to receive Christ, and had tons of questions about baptism. We’ve been able to take students to worship with us in town at local church…the list goes on and on of how God is moving. He is opening doors for us to share His love and it is through your support and encouragement that we are able to stay here.

Remember, I am able to serve on a federally run high school campus through donations of denominations, churches and individuals. I am 100% privately supported and we are the only program of our kind operating in a Boarding School setting.

PLEASE CONSIDER becoming a monthly partner with us. Any amount of money will help us to continue all that God has begun and for us to continue to build relationships to bring the love of Christ to a hurting people. Donate online through the PayPal button or additional information is listed on the right side of this page on where to send donations. Thanks for all of your support.

GIFTS IN KIND are also appreciated. Subway Gift Cards in the amount of $5.35 are great (the price of a foot-long sandwich plus tax). I use them for prizes or treats or to share with kids just having a bad day. Wal-Mart Gift Cards in any amount help when we have kids with physical needs (coats, shoes, toiletries, etc.) or I can run a whole program event and am able to shop from one card. Or be creative! Think kids away at college and what they might like. I go through a lot of candy for my office (anything but chocolate), Ramen noodles and instant cocoa and Cappuccino mixes. Send GIK to: Bill Britton, 802 W Pipestone, Flandreau, SD 57028.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Some of you may have followed on Twitter yesterday that I went along with the Flandreau Indian Students to chaperone a school outing to a Pow Wow in Sioux Falls. We don’t celebrate Columbus Day in South Dakota but recognize Native American Day instead. The South Dakota legislature voted to make 1990 the year for reconciliation between the white and Indian populations. They voted in this day of observance as a way to work towards that healing.

The school tries to do things that help the students learn more about their heritage. Like many cultures, history and traditions are lost when elders die and younger generations forget what has gone on before. You’d be surprised how many of our students have no real idea of their heritage or what it means to belong to the particular tribe that they come from.

I think maybe South Dakota itself is beginning to realize what a uniquely American heritage the Indians have, a heritage that goes back hundreds of years, years before European settlement.  The Sioux Falls School District announced this fall that it will offer the Lakota language (local Indian dialect) as a language elective in their schools next fall. Also, PBS in North and South Dakota will be airing episodes of the Berenstain Bears in the Lakota language to reach the younger generations who are highly impressionable in retaining language.  These are all amazing steps in preserving a heritage that is part of our country’s heritage as well.

I had the privilege of arranging a meeting of two individuals during the Pow Wow. I met an older gentleman who was dancing in the Pow Wow and he asked about one of our runners on the cross country team who has been running exceptionally well this season. He said cross country running had helped him travel all over the world and he wanted to encourage the student in his efforts to keep on going. The runner was with us at the Pow Wow so it was exciting to be able to arrange a meeting between the two.

It was a greater thrill that the meeting became important to both of them. I introduced them and then left them to share but Griffin’s Facebook status last night was priceless. “Talking to me about running... Each step is a prayer.”  (photo posted above) To be able to introduce wisdom from the older to the younger was exciting for me to be able to facilitate.

Psalm 145:4 “One generation will commend your works to another; 
they will tell of your mighty acts.”