What have the Apache Indians to do with Luther?

December 2, 2017




The following blog has been borrowed from Apache Pastor Kirk Massey, Whiteriver. This material was recovered from a 1933 Apache Scout publication.

Long ago more than four hundred years ago, far away from here, in a city in Germany, called Worms, there was held a meeting that had to do with matters with which also the Apache Indians have to do.


The president of that meeting was mightier than any other man on earth, except one. He ruled over Spain, claimed also the rule over most of America, and was emperor of Germany. He was called Charles V. Round about his throne at the meeting sat many princes and other men of might. There also sat, not back in the lines, men sent by the man that really was mightier than even the emperor, the Pope, the man at Rome who claimed that God had made him ruler over all men on earth.


In the middle stood an altogether different man. He looked like a man that had gone through hard struggles. His name was Martin Luther. He was a poor man’s son. He had studied hard, had taught other people, and had written books. Those books were lying on a table beside which he stood, there in that meeting. They had caused a great stir. They had been read by many people, glad when reading them, because they found in them the Word of God as it is written in the Bible.


Now we look upon that man as all eyes in that meeting were turned upon him. He had been told the emperor’s will, according to the will of that mighty man at Rome, that he should take back what he had written in those books. He tried to show them that he therein taught the truth as it stands in God’s Word. But now the emperor lost patience and demanded of Luther to answer in just a word whether he would take his teaching back or not. And that meant that he also should keep still in the future.


Quiet it was in the hall. People held their breath. What would that man Luther answer? He surely knew it might at once go hard with him if he gave an answer displeasing to the emperor. Would he further disobey that man at Rome and those who were with him in power? That man had already sent out word that Luther should be cast out of all mankind if he did not take back his teaching.


Luther said he could not take back what he taught, because he feared to do anything against God’s Word. “Here I stand,” he said, “I can not do otherwise.”


There was a great stir. Many even of those mighty men admired this man without fear of men. Luther was taken out of the hall. His enemies soon thereafter got permission from the emperor to kill him. But they couldn’t. God kept safe of the man who trusted in Him and feared nothing but to do anything contrary to His Word.


So Martin Luther could keep on for a long time to show many people what God’s Word teaches. The many people, not only in Germany, that learnt to know and believe it, and confess it before men, were called Lutherans. They were not ashamed of it, for to be a Lutheran or to believe what Luther believed means simply to believe God’s Word and to worship and live according to it.


Now, what have the Apache Indians to do with it? You may already understood that they have very much to do with it. It is through God’s doing that men have come to them that teach God’s Word as Luther did. So the question is put to the Apache Indians; do you want to follow it or do you want to follow what is only men’s thoughts and men’s teaching?


With that has come to the Apache Indians a call to get ready for judgement. They shall judge for themselves, they shall choose; and according to what they choose and keep, God will judge them.


How God will judge, that He has already made plain in His Word. To John the messenger of Jesus He showed it as in pictures and explained it also by word. So John saw what happens on earth before the last great judgement comes. John saw that mighty men would put their own word above God’s Word. He saw that thereby, fearful things would happen on earth. But as the eyes of his spirit were opened, he also saw angels and other faithful servants of God. And so he wrote in the Book of Revelation, in the 14th chapter: “And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred (or tribe) and tongue and people.”


The “Eternal Gospel” concerns us as much as it concerned those people of four hundred years ago and people of any other time. And being meant for “every nation, and tribe and tongue and people, it is meant for the Apache Indians also.”


“The everlasting Gospel,” that is: the good news, the message of joy to last in eternity. It is the old message of Jesus Christ the Son of God. This it is: What stood against us because of our righteousness has been set right by Him, God’s Son; and now we owe nothing to God but to let our hearts be turned to Him, with faith in His Son, so our sins be forgiven and that He make us strong to live a life pleasing to Him; to pray trusting in Jesus name, only in Jesus name; let nobody else stand between you and God; let no man trouble your soul be glad and look up to God as your Father whom you obey gladly, and be sure that He will deal with you as His children.


This good news Martin Luther learned to know from the written Word of God. Thereby his heart was turned to God with a great joy and a great trust. For this reason he was not afraid of men. For this reason he could without fear at that meeting before the mighty men give that good answer, and, as long as he lived teach and preach the truth.


Luther did as the angel proclaimed whom John saw flying in the midst of heaven: he believed and spoke to other people the everlasting good news for all people on earth, the Apache Indians also. And so to you also have come the call to pay attention to the following words which John heard that angel say: “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgement is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water.”


So this is what the Apache Indians have to do with Luther: They are given to hear the eternal good news, as it was given to Luther, and to believe it as he believed it and as others learned to believe it with glad hearts. They are called upon to fear nothing except doing anything contrary to God’s Word, as Luther learned to keep only this fear in his heart. They are called to worship no being but God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the Maker of all things, as Luther learned from the Everlasting Gospel to call for help upon no other being.


In the Lutheran preaching and teaching, God’s message has come to you. As you treat the message, so you treat Him who sent it. So, what do you do with it?


If you take it to mind and heart, it will make you glad. If thus you fear nothing except doing anything contrary to God’s Word, then He will make you sure of being on the right way, and He will take care of you, as He did take care of Luther. Luther was born four hundred and fifty years ago, but he is not forgotten on earth, and his soul is with God. If you live in his faith, you will not be forgotten in eternity.


We do NOT believe IN Luther, But we want to believe AS Luther believed. He only pointed out the way; the way is faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, according to the eternal gospel. –Francis Uplegger- The Apache Scout. November 1933

Pastor Kirk Massey serves as Pastor on the Apache Reservation. He is the pastor at the largest WELS Lutheran Church - The Lutheran Church of the Open Bible, Whiteriver, AZ. 

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Pastor Dan Rautenberg

Native American Mission

Field Coordinator

Apache  Christian Training School  (ACTS) Director