Lebanon-born, and Lebanon High School graduate, Chaplain Georgia (Varney) Risenhoover, coordinator of Texas Baptists’ Chaplaincy “Hands on Ministry” training program for volunteer chaplaincy, has been named as coordinator of the Native American Mission Initiative for Chaplaincy.
The announcement was made by Dr. Bobbly Smith, director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Chaplaincy Department.
Risenhoover, wife of Granbury, Texas Church on Thistle Ridge pastor and bestselling author C.C. Risenhoover, is by birth Cheyenne River Sioux (Lakota) and a fifth generation descendent of Chief War Eagle. Her father was born on the Cheyenne River Reservation at Eagle Butte, SD.
Referencing a commitment made by BGCT Executive Director Dr. David Hardage to reach all of Native America with the Gospel of Christ, Smith said Risenhoover’s heritage and knowledge of the culture makes her a natural for the new position.
“Native Americans, especially tribal leaders, are accepting of Georgia because she’s a descendent of a well-known and respected chief,” Smith said. “Chief War Eagle was actually a man of peace who received a peace medal from President Martin Van Buren in 1837, and with other tribal leaders spent time in Washington, D.C. negotiating peace treaties with our government. Unfortunately, most of those treaties were broken by our government.
Risenhoover said the foundation for her faith that led to earning a master of divinity degree were planted at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lebanon by its late pastor, M.L. Natterer.
“Beyond the ceremonial dress and depictions of wise old Indians shown in motion pictures, there is the stark reality of a nation of people on reservations who are wrestling with unrelenting poverty, drug cartels, and with astounding rates of suicide, rape and murder, disease, alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence and infant mortality," Risenhoover said.
Hardage is calling on Texas Baptists to invest, with both prayer and financial support, a missional effort that brings to America’s First Nation peoples the promise of salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ.
“Because of longstanding distrust of government, and white people are perceived as being part of that government, we must,” he said, “train Native Americans to minister to other Native Americans. So what we propose doing spiritually is a massive undertaking that will take time, a lot of prayer, and boots on the ground. It will take trained Native American pastors, missionaries and people in all areas of ministry to help bring Native Americans on many reservations out of spiritual and physical poverty.”
Smith said Risenhoover will, through the BGCT Chaplaincy Department, be doing a number of ministry trainings for Native Americans on reservations, speak to mission groups in churches and in other venues, and will help identify Native American pastors for church starts on reservations, a program that will be directed by Paul Atkinson, BGCT Director of Church Planting.
“We are in the initial stages of this initiative,” Smith said, “and understand how important it is to provide Texas Baptists with factual information on each step of the process. But this initiative is actually global in scope, so we anticipate Baptists from around the world becoming engaged in it.
“Georgia is available to speak to any church or mission-related organization in a church, and we are developing materials that will help any church to become fully engaged in this initiative.”
Risenhoover can contacted by email at email@example.com, or by calling her at 817-578-7073.
“Over the years our government made more than 500 treaties with Native America, and broke more than 500 treaties,” she said. “We need the help of mission-practicing churches, but the treaty Texas Baptists have made with Native America to bring the gospel to reservations will not be broken."