Staff

Gerald and Deanna Wright

Gerald and Deanna have been involved in Native American ministry since 1985 when they moved to Arizona to serve as dorm parents and teachers at a mission school. Gerald has served as administrator of Native American Youth Ministries since its inception in 1997.

For several years, Gerald was involved at Navajo Christian Foundation where he facilitated the construction of their youth center and apartment building.

Presently, Gerald’s primary responsibility is in administration and in helping with work projects on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations in northern Arizona. Both are involved in the annual Vacation Bible Schools held in the Pinon area among the Navajo people.

They have 4 children and 8 grandchildren. Deanna teaches fifth grade and Gerald teaches math at an inner city Phoenix elementary charter school.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.” 1 Timothy 1:12

Mark and Nancy Smith

Mark and Nancy have been involved in Native ministry since 1983. Mark is involved in the Work Team Ministry, and Nancy does office and accounting work for NAYM. They both are involved in the Vacation Bible School Outreach near Pinon, AZ on the Navajo Reservation.

Barbara Ranger and her family have hosted the VBS team since 2000. Barbara hopes to reach family, friends and neighbors with the love and knowledge of Christ. The theme in 2015 was “ARMED,” with teaching about the Armor of God.   Please pray for her and her immediate family as they continue this outreach.

Mark is currently building at the ROCK ministry site where Robin and Faith Jelle are in ministry. This ministry site is on the Navajo Reservation near the northern Hopi border. his year there are several work teams coming to help complete a workshop.

So that the body of Christ might be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God.” -Ephesians 4:12-13

Judy Kanouse

Judy serves as the Director of Urban ministries and Secretary for the NAYM Board of Directors. She is Grandma to Zack, and a part time teacher’s aide at a Christian school. Judy assists our NAYM treasurer by processing the mail, entering contributions, printing and mailing receipts as well as doing the banking and post office runs. Serving as the Board Secretary, she helps organize staff retreat, and takes and keeps all board minutes. Judy is a chaplain at Phoenix Indian Medical Center; however right now she is on inactive status due to her part time work outside the mission. She has been a career missionary for 25 years. Judy says: “I love Jesus and love sharing Him with others.”

The “job” Judy says she enjoys the most is raising Zack. He is 1/2 Hopi Indian, and is in 10th grade now. An all-A student for the last 5 years, Zack enjoys Bible, technology, art, drama class and music. He actively assists Judy with planning and serving for staff retreats.

Judy and Zack are both active in their home church. Judy is a hall monitor one service and a Sunday School teacher the next. Zack is active in his high school youth group. He does sound boards for high school worship as well as media for the children’s service. They both have loved serving in VBS. They try to stay in contact with and encourage former dorm students, maternity home residents, and Bible study friends.

Prayer requests from Judy and Zack— Please pray for: wisdom in raising Zack, especially as we go through high school and then college planning; good health for both of us; that we will be open to all God would have us to do; to be receptive to the people He brings into our sphere of influence; and for our ministry financial support.

Zack and I both claim this verse daily: Jer. 29:11, “ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future…’ “

Teresa Collett

From the time I was a young girl living in Indiana I remember wanting to “work for” Jesus. I loved Sunday School and VBS; in fact I went to two each summer, one at my church and one at the church across the street from our house. In the evenings I used to sit in a swing in our back yard and sing Jesus songs until time to go inside.

All that to say, I have loved working for Jesus along all the paths He has led me, and I still do. The majority of my ministry has been in education, with a couple side ventures into being a coach and a dorm parent. In early 2000 I joined the NAYM team serving as the Director of Publications, and helping with monthly Native fellowship meals at Judy’s home and at our church. The Lord then gave me the idea of starting a Native ladies’ Bible study. Brainstorming with Judy, the Lord led her to start a children’s Bible study to coincide with the ladies’ group.

The Lord has since closed that door so that I’m now doing more behind the scenes ministry with NAYM, again working with publications, serving as Secretary on the Executive Committee, and helping with any work where needed. At my church I’ve been co-teaching a third grade Sunday School class with Judy, and serving as a hall monitor for the children’s ministry.

I have been “tent-making” for the last 10 years at a local Christian school, where I teach in the extended care program for preschool through 1st grade. My transition from being a jr/sr high teacher to a teacher at this level has been quite interesting! It actually has been fun, especially getting to develop my own “curriculum” for our Bible time.

One of my favorite verses has always been “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” [Proverbs 3:5-5, NKJV] Some of His paths have taken a lot of faith; some have been hard to follow; but all have been safe, in the center of His will. I’m so thankful!

Myrtis McCormack
Myrtis, and her late husband Jim, were part of the founding members of the ROCK Ministries team before joining in with the NAYM ministry. She has been serving the Native people of the Southwest since 1988. With her daughter Anna, she presently lives near Tucson. She has been available to Navajo and Hopi people who stop by for encouragement as they are in Tucson seeking medical treatment or visiting family members in the hospital.

Myrtis travels to the northern reservations to continue ministry among the people and families she, Jim and Anna had lived among before moving to Tucson. Myrtis is able to minister through listening to and praying for people’s concerns, and giving thanks for God’s answers. She has had many opportunities to assist in community events and provide crisis intervention.

Robin and Faith Jelle

God led Robin, Faith, and their 3 children to Hardrock in 1991 to work in full time ministry with the Navajo people. In 2006, they were accepted by the Navajo Nation for a mission lease site of 1½ acres. They moved their double wide trailer to that location and continued Bible studies and youth/children programs from their living room.

Numerous work teams have donated time, skills, and money towards developing this property into a Christian Fellowship Center for the Navajo people and for those who would like to come for short term missions. A bunkhouse, workshop, and a Chapel/Fellowship Hall are under construction. A gym, and basketball court are also in the future plans.

God has opened up opportunities for ministry teams to share the love of Jesus through encouragement, meals, Bible studies, games, worship, chopping wood, branding cattle, and outreach visitation.

Robin ministers with his skills in construction. He’s an over-all “fix-it-man” for the Hardrock community. He has also been able to minister to some of the young men through hiking, camping, and men’s retreats. His vision is to have a workshop where he can teach Navajo men furniture and cabinet making.

Faith’s ministry involves teaching children and teens at church, VBS, camps, retreats, and our home. She has developed “Talking Circles” at the local Indian boarding school to help Navajo children cope with trauma and teach good behavior. Faith also writes adult/teen Bible lessons for VBS and Family Conference. She is using her artistic skills to illustrate bi-lingual children’s books that teach good values to Navajo children. Her vision and goal is to train and equip Navajo young people to serve the Lord.

Russell and Cynthia Toews Family

GOD’S call in 1996 to move to Hopi came to us through the church at Bacavi, AZ asking for help. This role of servant leadership has led us into many forms of ministry including Sunday meetings, Bible studies, hospital/jail visits, elderly care, sewing with the visually impaired, ministering to hurting people needing GOD’S Life-giving message freeing them from the devil’s bondage.

GOD uses us in meeting physical needs like home/vehicle repairs, transportation, a small food pantry, providing food and lodging for those in need. These things help us to build trusting friendships and give us   opportunities to share the Love of GOD, HIS message of salvation through JESUS CHRIST. We minister to children through after school/summer activities and by providing nutritious snacks/meals.

Our time is not our own. We have been bought with a price (the precious blood of JESUS) and we desire to serve our LORD with all that we are. We are very blessed and thankful for The LORD’S faithful provision. HE has called many faithful people to pray for us and support us in many wonderful ways. We could not be what GOD has called us to be without this team which our LORD has brought together.

Pray for Hopi people to be hungry for The WORD of GOD, to seek first HIS Kingdom and HIS Righteousness and to be fully surrendered to HIM.

Eph. 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)

Bill and Julie Odom
Bill and Julie have been in ministry since 1976, specializing in audio Scripture recording in Native languages. They have seen great technological changes since the days of coming alongside Bible translators, recording on reel to reel tape (with native narrators) and putting the   finished books of the Bible out on cassette tape. Using computers today, they can record on location with Native narrators themselves or coach others at a distance in audio recording; editing time is cut way down. The translated Word of God in audio form is out in many Native languages now, available online or on MP3, on cell phones, on iPod and specialized players galore. They are still working in many languages, and Bill is also consulting with translators worldwide in getting the Bible into the heart languages of people groups in audio form.Bill and Julie have been married since 1978. They are the parents of five adult children, the grandparents of four granddaughters. They have one teen-aged daughter, Abby, still at home, and a white poodle who loves to play fetch.
Smith-NAYM-Native American Youth Ministy

Travis and Ashley Smith

We felt God’s call towards ministry during the summer of 2014 after serving at Bible camps for Native American teens and elementary students. After joining the NAYM ministry the very next November, the Lord has already presented us with many wonderful opportunities to serve Him and fellow Christ-followers.

Travis has worked on editing Navajo translations of the audio Bible with Bill Odom, and works as a team leader during the youth camps held by Southwest Indian Ministries Center. He also runs a pool cleaning business part-time during the weekdays.

Ashley assists in the SIMC office two days a week, and serves in the cafeteria during youth camps in the summer. She has also completed QuickBooks training, and has started to assist the Treasurer with NAYM’s bookkeeping.