(Click the image above to play a short video excerpt from Spirit Lake Ministry's Virtual Family JAM 2020)
The pandemic has hit many people in different ways. In our Dakotas Conference mission at Spirit Lake Ministry Center, in east-central North Dakota, Mike and Libby Flowers have adapted to the changes in their region and are optimistic about filling the needs of God’s people in the Spirit Lake Nation.
Just south of Devils Lake, ND, Spirit Lake Ministry is a year-round mission supporting the peoples of the Spirit Lake Nation. Under the leadership of Mike and Libby, the ministry provides critical services to local families, such as the Food Pantry, the Children's Day Camp program, the Community Children’s fund, backpacks, energy grants, the Shoebox Christmas program, and the worship community’s meeting space, Arthur Hall. They also provide mission opportunities throughout the year for elders, persons with disabilities, youth, and children. The facilities for the VIM teams and friends from the community also need improvements.
The partnership with the Tribe has grown beyond expectations, and the Spirit Lake Ministry has grown beyond the Spirit Lake Nation. They now partner with six reservations in the Dakotas and Minnesota, delivering thousands of Shoebox Christmas gifts and, in some cases, new clothing. In the past, the customers could shop in the food pantry and select their own items. The new physical distancing recommendations have forced a switch to drive-up service with pre-boxed groceries that are loaded into families’ cars. The pandemic has also created a need for more cleaning and sanitizing products. The ministry provided new sewing machines to some of their congregation members who, in turn, made over 300 face masks for the congregation and the community.
In the last two years, Spirit Lake Ministry began a local worshiping community, The Journey, which features songs, a sermon, children’s craft time, and a fellowship meal. The Journey has now adapted to the pandemic and gone online, with Mike and Libby providing worship services, children’s messages, and craft time - all online.
Mike said, “We have gone from Virtual worship to face to face outside worship, back to virtual with plans to meet outside again in the very near future. Five new families have been reached during the virtual worship. These are folks who have never been present in church before this time.” He added, “As with any church, funerals and hospital visitations have been a challenge. Just recently, we had a member of our congregation succumb to the Covid-19 virus. Instead of the planned worship service, we focused on ‘The Miracle of Death’ and memorialized her during this worship service.”
Mike recently posted this COVID-19 update:
“We reach about 140 children during Virtual Family JAM 2020. We video the week’s segment, then deliver all the supplies needed to complete the experiments or crafts. Sometimes, we feel like pranking teenagers, ringing the doorbell and running! This has also given us a chance to do visitation while maintain physical distancing protocols. It’s been interesting to see not only the children getting excited about the upcoming videos, but also the adults! We have a few adults who don’t have children who want to be involved in the program as well. It’s also been fun to watch the interaction between the adults and children, in videos and pictures, as they do the experiments and crafts together. This has made such an impact that we will be adding this program to our worship once a month from now on.”
June through August is usually the busiest time of year for volunteer projects – roofing, building wheelchair ramps, exterior painting, and other projects as needed by the individuals. In a typical summer, over 450 volunteers have an opportunity to interact with children and youth on a weekly basis. The volunteers also bring not only helping hands, but also important revenue for the center’s fixed expenses. With the pandemic stopping those activities, the ministry center has been forced to curtail a large portion of its mission work, especially repair of families’ and elders’ homes, many of which are in immediate need before the next North Dakota winter arrives.
The Spirit Lake Ministry Center is one of the mission ministries that will be supported by your gifts to the 2020 Miracle Offering. Begin to prepare your hearts and minds for how you can live out God's call to generosity.
Pastor Mike Flowers and Libby have been missionaries on the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota since February 2007 and are co-directors of the Spirit Lake Ministry Center. They facilitate justice and mercy ministries along with worship, Bible studies and children programs for the people of the Spirit Lake Nation.