"Where are you taking us?" exclaimed three Navajo women. Our chidi yázhí (little car) had plunged down the pipeline road and ascended up the hill. The VW "bug" complained under its load.
The desert stretched before us. Scrub brushes and tumble weeds dotted the landscape. Without mishap we arrived at Alma Murphy's hut in China Springs (a few miles from Gallup, New Mexico). It consisted of one room with a wood stove for heat and cooking. She had built it herself out of gray cinder blocks. Gray tiles covered the roof.
A Loving Witness
Nearby, Mark, Alma’s brother, squatted in his mini shack. He spoke to us in Navajo. Even Alma did not understand him. She spoke to him with her hands.
A few yards away lay tar paper shacks. They sheltered Alma's other relatives who guzzled their booze.
Alma loved the Lord Jesus Christ, her Saviour. She shared with us her burden for her people. "How can I win Mark?" she asked. We shook our heads. We wished we knew sign language.
When we left Alma's house, the three women directed us on another road back to Gallup. This dirt road did not dip and climb.
Alma loved her Navajo Bible. She also spent time playing her accordion in various camps (Navajo settlements), and witnessing to her people.
Trained from birth as a stoic, Alma shed no tears as she played on her accordion and sang. Then once an audience gathered, she witnessed of her Saviour who could deliver her loved ones from strong drink. As she spoke, no one saw the tears that tore at her heartstrings.
We first met Alma in June 1970. On one occasion I lay sick in bed with child. She visited our apartment in Gamerco, New Mexico (a few mi1es from Gallup, New Mexico) and asked, “Can I have some water?”
"Help yourself," I answered as I needed my rest to try to save our unborn child.
A1ma returned after church with two friends. According to Navajo custom, a Navajo says, "Can I eat with you?" instead of saying, "Will you come to my house for dinner?" Alma and her friends expected a meal.
But the smell of food—nauseated me, and I feared I had lost our baby.
Leon, my husband, rummaged in the refrigerator and found four pork chops. He served up dry, hard chops with vegetables and coffee to our: guests. Somehow they managed to choke them down while I ate my soft-boiled egg.
After this meal I felt better. Leon drove our three guests home while I rode along. Rose said, "I live only a little ways," but we bounced and bounced to get there. We never set eyes on Rose and Paula again, but Alma became a close friend.
I told Leon afterwards that I thought I had lost our baby. We grieved for a week. Then Leon persuaded me to go to the doctor. She said, “You still look pregnant.” A few months later, my baby girl glowed with health.
Soon Alma' came to see our baby girl, She fixed her gaze on our baby. "What did you do to your baby's hair?" she asked finally. "Did you shave it?"
"No," we answered. "That's the way she was born." Alma had never seen a blue-eyed blonde baby. Navajo babies come into the world with lots of dark hair.
I never saw Alma without her Navajo Bible and her accordion. Together we enjoyed singing hymns in Navajo while Alma played- her accordion. I let Alma carry the lead, my voice trailing along.
Alma’s people hated her. We learned to love Alma and enjoyed fellowshipping with her.
A Courageous Witness
On one particular day this growing hatred posed a threat to Alma. "Shut up. We don't want to hear your Jesus' talk" her relatives—said to her.
Alma had to talk about her Saviour. She said, "My Saviour can take your Desire for liquor."
These relatives strode to the medicine man. "Put a curse on Alma," they said. "She troub1es us with her talk about Jesus."
When Alma visited us, she said, "My people hate me because I tell them about Jesus. The medicine man put a curse on me." She held up her skirt. "See this feather! The medicine man cut this hole in my skirt and put this feather in it. He did that to put me under a curse."
When a stoic becomes a believer, the joy of the Lord shines through. Alma laughed as she said, "Jesus is greater than the evil spirits. I'm not afraid."
She trusted God to protect her. He kept her "quiet from fear of evil" Proverbs 1:31. He watched over her, and kept her from a sniffle.
Who was the missionary—me or Alma? She taught us much by her life and about our God who sheltered from a curse.
Even this curse did not keep Alma from witnessing. She continued going to the small hogans where her people lived. She played hymns on her accordion. Then she said, "Jesus saved me from a life of sin. This Bible tells you how you can know my Jesus."
I 1earned something from Alma that day. When people call me "Old Foggy" or "Bible Thumper," I try to take it as a compliment. When I knock on door after door and folks do not want to listen, I tend to get discouraged and want to keep quiet. At 1east the medicine man never put a curse on me! I serve the same God Alma did.
Ways I Can Be a Witness
(1) Leave tracts in restrooms, waiting rooms and other places.
(2) Hand out tracts when I shop and be friendly.
(3) Visit in hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, and other places. Take a1ong some- paperbacks or flowers. A potted plant might be appreciated. Write down the home address and phone number of the sick so that you can keep in touch.
(4) Write letters to relatives, the sick, pen pals, and others.
(5) Be a friendly neighbor. Perhaps a neighbor would like to come over for coffee and cookies. You might offer to baby sit when tragedy strikes a neighbor.
(6) Go visiting in your neighborhood or among acquaintances with a friend. Let the joy of the Lord shine through.
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