DH and Emily Henry are working for the spread of the gospel within the Navajo Nation. They have lived in Window Rock, Arizona since 2015 and have four children. DH has deep roots in the Trinity community. His mother, Barbara Henry, was a pillar of biblical instruction and ministry for the people of Green Lake, particularly women, for many years. DH’s grandmother and grandfather, Al and Betty Van Wechel, worked to start the church many decades ago. In the 2000s, DH served as a youth group leader at Green Lake. He and Emily both graduated from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.
Written by DH & Emily Henry
While many news stations talk about governors reopening commerce around the country, the Navajo Nation has also been hitting the news for a very different reason. You’ve most likely heard the story already: the Navajo have the second highest infection rate per capita in the United States, which means the fight against the virus rages on in and around the Navajo Nation. As of this week, there have been over three thousand cases of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation with 100 known deaths. To give you an idea of how that compares to other parts of the US – the land of the Navajo is about the size of West Virginia, the population, though, is only 20% in comparison to that state. Nevertheless, the Navajo people are suffering from more than twice as many cases and have lost almost twice as many people to the virus. All this despite a nightly curfew (between 8PM and 5AM) and a 57 hour weekend curfew that the Navajo Nation leaders have imposed.
President Jonathan Nez, while speaking to DH and a number of pastors Monday morning, mentioned how he has had a greater voice than usual. News anchors from C-span and CNN have been calling him up for interviews. In order to explain the source of the problem and why, for instance, 30% of the population has no running water, President Nez and his Vice President have had to catch their interviewers up on Navajo history – how, for example, the water rights system of “first in time, first in right” didn’t apply to Navajo during the westward expansion of the 19th century. This land, so often overlooked, is being acknowledged because of this pandemic. A number of big names have stepped up to help and have asked people to go to protectthesacred.net.
The border towns around the Navajo Nation have been feeling the effects of its high infection rate, since so many from within the Nation frequent those towns to provide essential needs.
With only 13 grocery stores on the Nation (and prices that reflect that disparity in supply and demand), most of the people living on Navajo’s Western agency go in and out of Flagstaff, AZ regularly. Likewise, those in the Eastern agency, like us, commute to Gallup, NM. But as Gallup’s infection rate began to reflect that of the Navajo Nation, they closed the city off; with the help of the National Guard, the Gallup Highway patrol barricaded the roads into town for 10 days. Just yesterday, the city reopened with hopes that the extreme measures would slow the spread of the virus but not hurt their economy too much.
It has been stressful for us to be in a place with such a high rate of infection, in the midst of nightly, weekend, and 10-day curfews – unable to get to town where we do most of our shopping. But, the challenges we have faced are practically nothing compared to what faces those deeper in the “rez,” who do not have electricity or running water.
Our work here continues on amidst the pandemic, though it is much different.
Lately, DH has been connecting Navajo pastors with Navajo Nation Christian Response Team (NNCRTeam) to assist in the distribution of food boxes to those in need. It has been beautiful to see the Diné step up to take care of their own people in this difficult time. Emily and the kids keep busy with phonics and math now that Classical Conversations is over for the summer, as well as the normal business of life with four young kiddos.
We are incredibly grateful for your continued support and prayers! Please pray with us…
That the work DH is doing to help mobilize the Navajo church will reach beyond the network our small mission has and extend to the remotest regions of the Navajo Nation. (Is. 41:9)
That the Lord would help us to be creative in equipping the church right now. (Eph. 4:12)
For wisdom as we think about what future ministry will look like after this pandemic. (Prov. 18:15)