Allen and Kelley Fowler have a passion to reach the Navajo for God just as Jesus reached others, with love and tenderness.
When they see a need, they pray for a way to fill it. They’ve invited mission teams to help build a community center and repair Navajo homes. They provide warm bedding, coats, and food baskets to the neediest families. They invite medical and dental professionals to spend their vacations giving free medical care to the Navajo who cannot afford the clinic on the reservation.
They hold health classes to teach people how to prevent diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure and how to avoid drug and alcohol abuse. “They may not want a Bible study, but they want a better life, and they come,” Kelley says, smiling.
There is no Adventist church in the area, and the Navajo knew nothing about Adventists until Allen and Kelley came. One day while the couple and some friends were praying for the work among the Navajo, Kelley heard a voice say, “Pray for a church in Page.” The voice was so clear that Kelley opened her eyes to see if others had heard it. They hadn’t. But we have so much work to do on the reservation! Kelley argued in her mind. The voice spoke again, “Pray for a church in Page.”
Page, Arizona, is a small town on the shore of a large lake that has become a major recreation area, drawing vacationers to enjoy the sun and water sports. But half the residents of Page are Navajo who live in poverty. They have left their families on the reservation, hoping to earn a living in town. Poverty and affluence live side by side in Page.
Kelley and Allen started visiting the trailer parks and run-down houses in the Navajos’ part of town. They offered health materials and Bible studies written for Native Americans. “So many people are hurting!” Kelley says. “But once they knew we cared about them, they wanted to learn more about God.”
Kim works long hours at a local nursing home. She agreed to study the Bible with Kelley and looked forward to Kelley’s visits. “I love these studies!” she told Kelley. The two women became friends and looked forward to their time together.
When Kim’s 4-year-old son broke his arm, Kelley prayed for the boy. Later Kim told Kelley that they thought their son’s arm wasn’t healing properly. They decided to take him to a local medicine man. Kim borrowed the money to pay the medicine man, and the family drove toward the man’s house. On the way, God impressed her that this wasn’t the right path to take, so she returned home. That night Kim and her husband prayed for their son. The next day Kelley stopped by and prayed again for the boy. The child’s arm recovered completely. The door of faith was opening.
At another home a man asked Allen and Kelley if he could enroll his wife, Lorena, to take the Bible studies. He isn’t Native American, but Lorena is, and he thought she would like the Bible studies because they focused on Native American issues.
But Lorena wasn’t so sure. She called Kelley, and the two talked for a long time about Lorena’s traditional Navajo upbringing, her beliefs, and God’s love for her. Lorena agreed to take the studies. When Lorena finished the Bible studies she was disappointed they were done. “I guess we’ll have to start over again!” she said.
Allen and Kelley had met 70 people who wanted to study God’s Word, and they struggled to keep up with so many Bible studies.
“It’s time to hold public meetings,” Allen said. They rented a vacant store in town and distributed handbills inviting people to the meetings. They prayed and wondered how many people would come.
On opening night more than 50 Navajo attended the meetings. Some were their Bible study friends, but others had come out of curiosity. Many had never heard even basic Bible stories before.
Following a month of meetings, 12 Navajo, including Kim and her daughter, were baptized. Lorena hasn’t taken her stand for Christ yet, but she is forming a connection with God. She hosts health meetings in her home.
Allen and Kelley continue to pray for the church that God told them to plant in Page. And they continue to work for their beloved Navajo people. But they can’t do the work alone. Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help fund volunteer Bible workers for the Navajo people and help establish a church for them in Page, Arizona.