Siksika First Nation: Hope after the flood

During Southern Alberta’s disastrous 2013 floods, many residents in the Siksika First Nation southeast of Calgary had to abandon their homes to the rising Bow River.

In the aftermath, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains joined with Samaritan’s Purse volunteers to provide free, no-strings-attached physical and spiritual aid to Siksika flood victims.

One result of that extraordinary time was a request by a Siksika pastor to have Billy Graham Evangelistic Association president Franklin Graham speak at the reserve. Franklin couldn’t fit it into his very busy schedule, but his son, evangelist Will Graham, will preach in Siksika Oct. 15 during the culmination of the Celebration of Hope with Will Graham.

Derick Bear Chief“It’s not about the Billy Graham association or about Samaritan’s Purse, it’s about Siksika,” said Derick Bear Chief (pictured left), Senior Pastor of SURE House. “My focus has been to give my people hope.”

Derick said many Siksika residents “still feel the effects” of Canada’s residential school system and he believes the Celebration of Hope will provide life-changing hope—now and for all eternity.

Derick Bear Chief, Senior Pastor of SURE House,
is looking forward to what God will do at the
Celebration of Hope this October.

“There are some people who will never step inside a church. But to have the Celebration at our Sportsplex, where people gather for hockey games, powwows and conferences, they’ll come and see there’s hope for them.”

Derick was among 40 people who attended the Celebration of Hope with Will Graham launch event in Siksika First Nation.

Siksika Blackfoot Crossing

The Siksika Celebration of Hope launch event took place at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.

It’s is one of three Celebration destinations in Canada in which Will Graham, God willing, will share the Gospel in 2015. He will be there on Oct. 15. After that, Will is scheduled to preach in Whitehorse, YT on Oct. 16 and 17 and Fort McMurray, AB on Nov. 14 and 15.

“We’re so pleased for the invitation to come here,” Dave Ingram, BGEA of Canada’s Director of Ministry, told everyone at the launch event. “This is the first time we’re working with First Nations to proclaim the Good News and we’re delighted at that.”

Siksika Dave Ingram2

Dave Ingram, Ministry Director of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, addresses the crowd gathered in Siksika.

Other BGEA of Canada representatives explained the value and importance of all the Celebration of Hope phases, which include Christian Life and Witness Course (for all ages) and FM419 (aimed at young people). These phases help Christians deepen their walk with Christ and equip them to share their faith with friends and loved ones.

Another phase, Community Action Projects, takes Christians into their community to do improvement work, such as graffiti removal and neighborhood cleanup. Along the way, God gives them opportunities to tell curious residents the reason for their work.

“The part that’s really exciting for me is the Celebration itself in October because I’m praying and believing for a lot of souls to come to the Lord,” said Derick. “I’m also happy for the Christians who will be getting [evangelism] training because that helps me.”

Siksika Praying2 Cropped

Praying at the Celebration of Hope launch event.