PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Diné is sometimes viewed by others, and sometimes by ourselves, as victims. However, the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP) disagrees strongly with this sentiment and gave a shout out to the work of the Navajo Nation Christian Response Team helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
On Nov. 6, Vice President Jonathan Nez arrived to meet with the response team whose members are on a 10-day long deployment to rebuild the Trinity Baptist Church, which was damaged by the hurricane. On a previous visit two weeks ago, the team assisted with relief efforts by clearing out houses of Navajo families and others affected.
“I just want to shine a light on the Navajo Nation Christian Response Team for demonstrating the undeniable fact that Navajo are able and willing to be of service to others and a part of something greater than themselves,” Nez said.
The team is made up entirely of volunteers from Cornerstone Ministries, New Life Fellowship, Gospel Lighthouse International and Western Indian Ministries. Each member raised money on their own through donations and through personal funds. Currently, the team is replacing drywall and insulation along the interior walls of the church.
Nez said the Navajo way of life concept of t’áá hwó ají t’éego means that an individual has the ability to take care of themselves. It embodies self-reliance and applies to Navajo today as much as it did in the past.
“When people ask why we leave the reservation to help others when we have our own problems back home, I say, ‘T’áá hwó ají t’éego,’” Nez said. “It is not a reprimand, but a firm reminder that we are able people who not only have the ability to take care of ourselves but also to help others in dire need of assistance.”
For years, Trinity Baptist Church has assisted people devastated by hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more. They have conducted emergency and disaster relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake that killed 316,000 people; in Tuscaloosa, Alabama after a large and violent EF4 tornado destroyed everything in its path; and in New York after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc causing over $60 billion in damage.
In fact, when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the Trinity Baptist Church deployed teams to help those affected. After ricocheting off the coast, Hurricane Harvey reversed its direction in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall a second time causing further destruction. This time Trinity Baptist Church and its members were among those affected.
“The Navajo Nation Christian Response Team is doing amazing work and I commend them for doing what they can for the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” Nez said. “In the future, I believe the team will be ready to assist Navajo if we ever have a natural disaster ourselves.”
The response team is planning to make another trip in the future either back to Texas or Florida to assist with relief efforts for Hurricane Irma.
More information about the Navajo Nation Christian Response Team is available at www.nncrteam.org.