“God’s Warrior” David Pendleton Oakerhater, Deacon and Missionary of the Cheyenne, 1931

DP Oakerhater
The Reverend Deacon David Pendleton Oakerhater (on left)

I grew up mainly in Southeastern Arkansas some one hundred and fifty miles from the Oklahoma border.  We used to take trips to Fort Smith to visit family and always had to see the courtroom and gallows of “the hanging judge”,  Judge Parker.  My wife’s family who lived in the central part of the state would take excursions into Oklahoma when the Indians were holding various events on the reservations to marvel at the colorful dances and ceremonies.   This was the land of David Pendleton Oakerhater, an episcopal deacon, and self described “God’s Warrior”.

Some weeks ago after the events in Charlottesville an article appeared in which the nature of racism was the topic.  What struck me was the author’s assertion that racism was not so much hatred for a particular person because he, or she, was “different” but rather the devotion to the idea of “whiteness” as the “norm” and that everything else was simply  an anomaly to be tolerated.  This saint brings this message home.  Most of us, me included, like to think of saints as medieval western european knights, or priests, or monastics, or kings.  But not a Cheyenne indian from Oklahoma?  David Pendleton Oakerhater shows us that our Lord will work his purpose out and will choose those worthy of his calling for his work even though they do not fit the mold of what society thinks is “the norm”.

This saint challenges us to look deeper and realize that God chooses his saints for his own purposes and isn’t too worried about their whiteness.  God’s Warrior found that wielding the Prayer Book was a much more effective weapon in the struggle for the hearts and minds of his people than the bow or the lance can ever be and thus places him in the ranks of those who decry violence in favor of the love of the Lord.

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