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 Mission to the Native Americas


1960s Arizona Baptist Convention employed a methodology that recognizes the importance of utilizing the indigenous principles that became the launching pad for the historical development of Navajo church planters since 1960. Arizona Baptist Convention (ABC), now Southwest Conservative Baptist America, had first appointed Dr. Scott Franklin for a church plant ministry in Tuba City, Arizona.

Scott Franklin, when first appointed, recalls ABC telling him that they will support him with their finances and prayers. They also said, we will not interfere, so you must labor with the Lord's guidance in reaching your Navajo people with the gospel. He said, "They never interfered and allowed me the flexibility and ownership of the ministry."

Under these circumstances, Scott's ministry flourished and soon a church was planted in Tuba City in 1960. He said, "We aggressively labored with new believers and many more received Jesus Christ as their Savior." He would immediately take the new believers with him and begin sharing their new found faith from hogan to hogan. Eventually, the men folk became lay-ministers whom in turn began reaching the outlying areas in Coppermine and Coal Mine. They planted churches without pay but out of sheer commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and their desire to see their own people come to Him.

In addition, there was another key person, Rev. Harry Sloan. He started two churches in Cedar Ridge Baptist Church and Bitter Springs Baptist. These churches are both located off North Highway 89, and about twenty miles apart between Cameron and Page, AZ.

1970s Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society missionary Rev. Lemuel Yazzie was on the verge of planting Tse Bii Osteel Church located about 5 miles of north of Indian Wells, which is about 35 miles northwest of Painted Desert. About 5 years prior to this church plant, Lemuel, as a Bible school student in Cottonwood, Arizona, visited this area for evangelistic outreach. In fact, one family has a picture of Lemuel standing next to a sheep corral sharing the Scriptures with a Navajo family.

1980s In 1986, Conservative Baptist Home Mission Society appointed Walter Yazzie, now Kisemeh, for church planting. Walter embarked on this church plant in Gallup, New Mexico. By 1989, Walter had small group meetings going in his home for Bible studies and prayer times. In 1994, Walter moved on and Ben Yazzie took reigns in completing the church plant in 1996. In 1997, Native Bible Fellowship was completely established and was on their way to finish paying off their property and finding a pastor.

1990s Willie Tsosie was appointed for church planting and moved to the Kaibeto, Arizona. By 1998 he had planted Kaibeto Baptist Church and embarked on building a sanctuary for the congregation with the help of CB churches in Arizona.

2000s After moving back to Flagstaff, Ben and Tillie formed a team to plant Native Harvest. They began services on April 2nd, 2000 at El Nathan Conference Grounds. They are currently running about 25-45 for attendance for their Sunday services.