Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Richard Twiss, Native American Leader

This is an unusual book. Author Richard Twiss spent many years, preaching, talking, writing, trying to convince both Native American people and whites descended from Colonial times that both groups worship the same God, whether he be called Creator or Jesus. Twiss died in 2013 and his wife, Katherine gave all his printed material to a group of friends who were eager to finish this book that Triss had begun earlier. It's called Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, a Native American Expression of the Jesus Way, and is published by and available from ivpress.com.

Richard Twiss was born June 11, 1954 on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. His family moved to Denver and then to Oregon, where Richard attended school. After graduating from high school, Richard moved back to Rosebud and he became involved in the American Indian Movement (AIM),strengthening his connections with other family members and deepening his appreciation for Lakota culture. One night during Richard's prayer, Creator responded to him and from that moment in 1974, Twiss was on a spiritual journey to live a meaningful life as a Lakota follower of the Jesus Way.

He and Katherine founded the nonprofit ministry of Wiconi International, through which they became known and "touched many thousands of people." Richard also founded or co-founded other organizations. In 2011 Richard earned his doctorate in missiology from Asbury Theological Seminary. He continued his teaching and writing careers and his first book, One Church, Many Tribes reached many people with the message of an inculturated faith in Jesus.

Twiss writes that "as Native people, we are in between the worlds of yesterday and where we will be, between traditional worldviews and western rationalism, between community and individuality, between spirituality and religion. We are not what we used to be and we are still becoming what we are not yet. In this in-between time we experience confusion, deep loss, fear, the unknown, searching, and despair." In Native terms, he says, "our circle is broken." He describes Native people as "living in two very different worlds." And it is crucial, he believes, for Native people to live biculturally in the urban culture. He uses many technical terms as he describes the history of the white and Native groups, what they did to each other, and where they are today. Much forgiveness is needed on both sides, in my opinion. And while Colonial Christianity continues to be impressed on the cultures of Native North America, "contextualization innovations are being introduced across Indian Country. The winds of change are blowing."

---Lois Sibley