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Bridger South Dakota Update June 16

Kenny and Karen Sherin are self-funded Field Personnel working in South Dakota.  Kenny describes their work as being “tent-makers.”  What he means is the model for their service is that they work regular paying jobs outside of their mission work and that they are an active part of the community. By becoming actual residents of the community, they can work with others in the community instead of for others in the community.

Kenny works as a Community Development Field Specialist with South Dakota State University Extension.  He and Karen have volunteered for the last several years with Together for Hope as Community Development Advisors.  Kenny says, “As we have lived in South Dakota …we realize that the issues of poverty in rural South Dakota are unique, wide-spread, and challenging.  We have chosen the approach of the ‘mustard seed’ in our endeavors to begin ministering here.”

Matthew tells the story of Jesus teaching from a boat while the multitudes are gathered on the shore. Jesus “told them many things in parables.”  One of those stories was the parable of the mustard seed.  The Sherins are hoping to plant many mustard seeds of faith in South Dakota and that those seeds will grow into sustainable ministries that will have a long-lasting effect on improving this poverty stricken area.

Together for Hope South Dakota (TFHSD) is a CBF rural poverty initiative that is a Christ-centered ministry working for a better future for residents of four of the poorest counties in the United States; Buffalo, Todd, Ziebach and Shannon counties.  These counties have a rich cultural history but extreme poverty. TFHSD works with Reservation ministers and leaders on the reservations, including Pine Ridge.  Wikipedia identifies the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as being one of the poorest places in America.  The Sherins and other CBF Field Personnel are committed to working alongside other community leaders concentrating their efforts on four areas; developing an entrepreneurial opportunity for economic development, programs that increase opportunities for children and teens, health care and cultural preservation.

These efforts begin with listening.  It is important to approach the problems without a preconceived agenda of trying to impose a solution on the community but by sharing in the efforts of those who already live and work in the community.  This is what Ken means when he describes their work as planting the mustard seed.  They plant the seed of hope along with other residents and then work to cultivate that seed of faith into a growing change in the hearts and lives of the people in this place that desperately needs the love of Christ.

2BC has long been a partner in this ministry. Mike Lassiter has been in South Dakota most of June and participated in discussions about what that partnership looks like going forward. This week the High School SEND Initiative team will join Mike in South Dakota. Charles Smith says, "We'll be working on several projects while we are with the community, including sanding, priming, painting, laying insulation, and cleaning and caring for the grounds and the community buildings. We may have an opportunity to partner with an organization that is repairing and enhancing the youth center in Cherry Creek. We may also be able to do some projects for the Takini school as they get ready for the new school year. We'll spend some good time continuing to build relationships with the children and the folks in the community."