The Navajo (Dine) are among the most numerous Native American people, and the Navajo Reservation covers over 27,000 square miles in the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. The Navajo are a good and honorable people with a long and noble history.For the past 50 years, there have been many efforts to bring the Gospel to the Navajo. In the late 1950's missionaries of the Churches of Christ came to the Navajo lands to share the story of Jesus with the native peoples. They met with some limited success, and there were few baptisms. However, the missionaries soon stumbled across an important work that had to be done. Increasingly, their time was spent caring for children left with them by families who could not care for them. This service led to the establishment of the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home, located to the west of Gallup, New Mexico. The Home became the first permanent establishment of the Churches of Christ on the Navajo Reservation.
Today, there are nine congregations of the Churches of Christ meeting at various places on the Reservation. Increasingly, these churches are being led by the Navajo, themselves. Navajo men like Edison Gruber, Ben Begay, Phillip James, Larry Johnson, Andrew Nathaniel and Tarry Laurence have become effective preachers of the Gospel and are reaching their people with the love of Jesus. Other Navajo men are studying and preparing to engage in a life of ministry. The work of evangelizing the Navajo is slow, but does meet with results. It is a work that is well worth the time, effort and resources that must be expended.
The church that meets at Hogback, New Mexico is the oldest of the Navajo churches. Soon after the establishment of the Manuelito Navajo Children's Home, a preaching school was begun at Waterflow, New Mexico (on the east side of the Hogback mountain). This school would provide housing and training for young Navajo men, with the aim of developing native preachers among the Navajo. Two teenagers from M.N.C.H. were the first students at the Hogback mission. By the early 1970's the school had evolved into a congregation. The Hogback church remains strong today. Phillip James serves as minister for the Hogback Church of Christ.
The mission at Hogback inspired the establishment of churches at Shiprock, New Mexico; at Kayenta, Arizona; at Kinlichee, Arizona; at Tuba City, Arizona; at Montezuma Creek, Utah; at Ft. Defiance, Arizona; at Many Farms, Arizona; and at Crownpoint, New Mexico. Many of these churches were planted by groups that had come from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and other states to conduct Vacation Bible Schools and Gospel Meetings on the Reservation. Churches in Farmington, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Fort Worth, Phoenix and other cities have been instrumental in the establishment of churches among the Navajo people