As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” John 9:1-17
I have been blessed to visit the church where Oakerhater served and will attend the 30th anniversary celebration and honor dance next weekend. Normally I would have more to say but I think this saint's words hold more power than anything I can contribute today.
His biography follows after his words to his people - When he first returned to Oklahoma in 1881, he said:
You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.David P. Oakerhater (born around 1850) was a warrior and leader of the Cheyenne Indians of Oklahoma, and led a corps of fighters against the United States government in a dispute over Indian land rights. In 1875 he and 27 other military leaders were taken prisoner by the U S Army and sent to a military post in Florida. There, thanks to the efforts of a concerned Army captain, they learned English, were encouraged to earn money by giving art and archery lessons to visitors, and encountered the Christian faith. David and three others were moved to become Christians and to go north to study for the ministry. David was baptized in Syracuse, New York, in 1878, and ordained to the diaconate in 1881. He returned to Oklahoma and there founded schools and missions, and continued to work among his people until his death on 31 August 1931.
He is a shining and powerful example for all of us Indigenous leaders who are working for the Gospel and in service of our people.
O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, who didst choose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be thy servant, and didst send him to be a missionary to his own people and to execute the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to thee and to the neighbors thou hast given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen