WALTERBORO, S.C. (BP)–The chance to reach a people group 300 miles away fell into the lap of Steve Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church in Walterboro, S.C. He was asked to help lead a World Changers project at the Catawba reservation just outside Rock Hill, S.C.
While the length of the community could be driven in five minutes, the distance was great for a white pastor to overcome years of suspicion and Native American culture. Not only are the Catawba people involved in Native American spiritism, but a large number consider themselves Mormons, including, of course, the head of the Latter-day Saints church there.
“The Catawba are very cautious of people from the outside,” Brown said. “Unconditional love is hard for them to understand. They don’t understand that someone would come and build houses for them without asking anything in return. So, during our first year there, many of the Catawba were stand-offish.”
But this changed. At the end of the first year the Catawba named one of their roads World Changers Lane in honor of the group that built five houses on that road and three others elsewhere on the reservation.
Now, after eight years of returning to work and minister on the reservation, Brown said he and other World Changers volunteers have developed some close Catawba friends, and he was invited to participate in the powwow circle.
By creating open hearts through service, World Changers helped open the door for Redpath Community Fellowship, the first Southern Baptist Church to have a home among the Catawba.