One of the hardest-to-reach areas of the country is the heart of Navajo Nation, which sits astride four states and encompasses over 27,000 square miles of rugged Southwest high desert. With a population of over 170,000 residing on tribal lands spread across this vast expanse, ministry opportunities are limited. However, that has not stopped Pastor Dale Wolcott and members of the Adventist community in northeastern Arizona.
Pastor Wolcott serves dual roles as the Chinle church pastor and the Arizona Conference assistant to the president for Native American Ministries. He can now add radio show host to his résumé. He helped establish the Dine’ Adventist Radio program with the mission, “To empower Dine’ [Navajo] to experience total well-being in our health, our families, and our faith.”
“We have had well over 100 people call in and request Bible lessons since we began our weekly 30-minute broadcasts on KTNN, ‘the Voice of the Navajo Nation,’” said Wolcott.
Broadcasting from Window Rock, Arizona, KTNN 660 AM/101.5 FM is one of the only radio stations that reaches across the entire Navajo Nation. Wolcott began broadcasting the weekly Bible Study program on this powerful signal in August of 2020. He and Bible School Coordinator Lorraine Francis then make follow-up phone calls to Bible students who are finishing the Native New Day course. This put them into contact with Janice, who just finished Lesson 20, which discusses the Sabbath.
“Like many of our students, Janice lives in a remote rural area of the Navajo Nation,” Wolcott related. “She mailed us the quiz sheet for lesson 20 a couple of weeks ago, and we noticed that she had answered all the questions about the Sabbath correctly.”
Janice told them she had often wondered about the Sabbath day, and now she understands. “She loves the Lord, she loves the Bible lessons, she doesn’t have a church to attend, and she would like to fellowship with Sabbath keepers,” said Wolcott.
As they visited in their native Navajo language, Lorraine discovered that Janice lives only 15 miles from the area where Lorraine grew up, and she knows several of Janice’s relatives. Janice requested to be placed on the Chinle church phone list, and she wants to join their services by teleconference.
“We continue to receive Bible study requests after almost every broadcast,” said Wolcott. “Pray for Lorraine as she marks our students’ lessons, mails out more lessons each week, and prays over the envelopes as they go to the post office.”
Pastor Wolcott hopes that this is the just the beginning of the radio ministry to the Navajo Nation. He has a vision for Dine’ Adventist Radio to be a full-time, full-power FM station to reach the mesas and valleys of this vast desert landscape. They are preparing to apply for a tribal land lease for a 300-foot tower at Yale Point, the optimal spot for reaching nearly the whole reservation. The FCC has opened a November 2021 “application window” for new non-commercial educational frequencies, and he is planning to apply for a full power 100KW frequency.
Pastor Wolcott is praying for the funds necessary for the purchase of the tower and license and for the on-going financial demands of keeping the Navajo language programming on the air. In this way, he strives to achieve the statement that is on the website and the weekly bulletin of the Chinle church: “Diné t’áá’ałtso bá kin bii’ sohodizin.”
“A house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7).
By Jeff Rogers