Randy and Edith Woodley-Speakers/Teaching Mentors
Eloheh Farm, School & Community
Eloheh Village for Indigenous Leadership
Coalition for Healing Chinook-Kalapuya Earth & Water "CHCKEW"
Teachings, Books and Writings
Local Service and Activism
Our Schools and
A Gathering Place
What Makes Us Different?
Jesus vs. Christianity
The history of Christianity among Native Americans, for the most part, is nothing short of evil. The damage done is incalculable. And yet, in the words of many Native Americans, Jesus is "like one of our own medicine people." The tension is caused primarily by events that occurred early when Christianity aligned itself with the Roman Empire, then European Empires and now the American Empire. Unfortunately, Christianity has never recovered from straying far from Jesus. So, why still follow Jesus? In reality, we have been changed by Jesus and have seen Jesus' power manifested in other peoples lives. In our own travels over the years, we have found many traditional Indigenous people who are not Christians, but have talked with and learned from Jesus. After all, he is Spirit. And, his medicine is powerful. And, his wisdom and values are traditionally Indigenous. Problem is, many Christians don't believe their own Bible.
In numerous places in the Scriptures, writers in John, Colossians, Corinthians and Hebrews, name Jesus as Creator. Our Indigenous people have been praying to Creator for millenea. So, who have Indigenous people been praying to? The one whom Scripture calls Jesus, the Creator, though he is called by many names among many peoples. The pre-existant Creator became a two-legged and walked this earth in beauty. His message was love. And, by any fair standard, as much as Indigenous peoples have every right to hate our enemies, only in a message of love, which produces forgiveness of our enemies, can we all find the freedom to learn to live in this land together. So the message Jesus actually taught, is the same we have heard many times from wise elders and mysterious teachers who appeared in various ancient Indigenous histories.
Only in converting Western thinkers, who have abused the earth and all creation, towards more sacred Indigenous values and worldview can we maintain the privilege of co-sustaining this earth together. Many European-Americans still have to learn these lessons, some are beginning to learn. Unfortunately, we wished they would have listened 500 years ago before so much pain was experienced by Indigenous peoples, but perhaps it is not too late. What about the damage done to our people and cultures? The presupposition of forgiveness does not exclude long overdue acts of restorative justice. In fact, in the Bible God demands restitution for wrongs done.
If you disagree with our understanding of Jesus, justice, Scripture and truth, that's okay. After being a missionary, pastor, teacher, missiologist, scholar in church history, student of the Bible, teacher in American history and culture and being mentored in several of our own Indigenous Native American cultures and, listening to traditional elders, praying through these things and participating in our own ceremonies, this is how we have come to understand these things about Jesus and Christianity, etc. among us. We learned over time that following Jesus is very different than being a Christian. We learned that we do not need Western paradigms and filters to understand Jesus. In fact, since Jesus himself was not a Western-thinker, but he was Indigenous, it makes it very difficult for Western, post-Enlightenment thinkers to understand him. Above all else, we learned, from Jesus and our elders, that love is universal and that love is for all people. In this love we have served our Indigenous peoples in America for over three decades under Eagle's Wings Ministry. We asked for nothing in return but spiritually, we received much more than we gave.
Eagle’s Wings Ministry has become a community of Native Americans and others, spirituality rooted in the Jesus Way and our traditional Native American beliefs. We have been officially active since January 1999, but have played many roles among our own Indigenous people before that. After 40 years of study and examination, we see no conflict between following Jesus and our Indigenous beliefs. It's just Christians who we have had a lot of problems with over the years...well, mostly, they have had problems with us. We work, through word and deed, to serve Native Americans and others to demonstrate the good news of Jesus, while respecting Native cultures, and with concern for both individual, family and community transformation. Based on the Native American “harmony way” tradition of spiritual health, family, social, and environmental balance, our purpose is to promote the prosperity and well-being of Native American communities in ways that are culturally contextual, holistic in scope, based in the power in the local community and demonstrating our traditional Indian values. We call this model “Living in a Good Way.”
Central to fulfilling our purpose is a commitment to leadership training appropriate to each local, traditional, Indigenous culture. Our training initiatives include short-term programs but result in life-long relationships. We mentor Indigenous leaders for service in their communities whether that be for churches and related ministries or for service of the broader community. This work is advanced through our Eloheh Village for Indigenous Leadership, which is both a school and a demonstrational community where new life skills may be learned through direct experience. Some of the areas we have regularly addressed include:
- Sustainable living skills
- Holistic integrative health
- Marriage and parenting skills
- Abuse and intervention training
- Drug and alcohol recovery
- Culturally appropriate theology and service
- Educational assistance
- Cultural teaching-living in two worlds
- Culturally appropriate economic development
- Community organizing
- Ecological concerns
- Justice concerns
For Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples of the world, the colonial restraints that were present for so many hundreds of years are now disappearing. Native people are free to be who they were created to be - not in the image of Western European cultures and values but in the same values Jesus himself taught, the values that have been with our Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. While we are unashamed followers of Jesus, in our own Indigenous ways, we do NOT proselytize, brainwash, or indoctrinate. This walk of ours is different than many others. People notice that about us, if interested, we share our experience. If not, we continue to love and serve without hesitation. We feel each person is sacred and can develop their own spirituality and spiritual path Creator has for them. In fact, that's what Jesus taught.
Welcome to Eagle's Wings Ministry! We hope you will get to know us better, and somehow, even if by extension, you will choose to become part of the Eloheh Community!