Recent events in the news draw attention to the vulnerability of First Nations men, women, and children. My heart hurts for the missing, the murdered, and the hopeless. In Psalm 82 the scriptures call us to “maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.” (ESV)
For five years, Matt and I, and a couple of friends, led a youth group on a local native reserve. The following adventure happened on a cold night just after New Year’s.
Looking into the change room mirror, I swiped my fingers through my hair. I’d forgotten a comb; my charges were escaping out the door so the rat’s nest would have to do. We’d brought the youth to town for a swim night to celebrate the Christmas season and we’d enjoyed the diving board and hot tub.
In the parking lot, the eight youth (yes, eight) eleven years and up and jumped into the Ford pickup with Matt and I. Forty-five minutes later red and blue lights flashed at the turn off to the reserve. Matt did the reasonable thing and drove on past it. Normally, we didn’t worry about overloading the truck and we’d never run into anyone who cared. The maximum we’d crammed into the cab was thirteen and it was a lot of fun.
But how were we going to get the kids home without getting a ticket? Matt’s workplace was about a twenty-five minutes back the way we’d come and he suggested half the kids could take a tour of the gas plant while I drove the other half home. I could come back and get the rest and we could repeat the process.
An hour later, we turned into the reserve for the first time and the check stop was gone. I tootled through the back roads delivering the kids to their homes. At one point, we passed a car in the ditch with flames shooting thirty feet up into the dark sky. A sixteen year old in the back seat told me not to worry as the vehicle had been abandoned a couple of days earlier. Fair enough, I couldn’t help them anyway - roasted alive or not.
Unfortunately, on my way out, the check stop had returned. Still wearing my Exorcist hairdo, I rolled down the window to speak to the officer. “No, sir, I don’t have any identification or a driver’s license. Yes, sir, I realize it’s after midnight and, yes sir, I know where I am. No, sir, this isn’t my vehicle; it’s my husband’s company vehicle. No, I can’t prove that and no, I haven’t been drinking.”
The kind officer let me go. Should he have? Probably not. Was I a menace to their community? I’d like to think not. Although, looking back, we took chances with other people’s kids under the guise of “can’t get enough help.” We shouldn’t have.
I don’t have the answers for rescuing the First Nation’s people, but I know we need to care enough to discover them.
“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:4