Reaching Without Reservations

Norm MillerAll Enews

With credentialed Bible teaching and evangelism experience at home and abroad, Tim Osterlund shares the principles of biblical interpretation with residents of the Crow Indian Reservation south of Billings, Montana.

Osterlund – an adjunct professor for Yellowstone Christian College (YCC) – relied on his experience navigating various world cultures in leading the course that he said was a “tremendous opportunity for ministry. The students were a real joy, too. They were warm, receptive, and eager to learn.”

Students’ ages ranged from twenty-somethings to others in their mid-50s and included a Crow tribal leader. They reflected a broad spectrum of denominational affiliation, theological understanding, and religious experience.

Teaching the class was “truly a cross-cultural experience. It was fantastic,” said Osterlund, crediting the Lord with an ice-breaking idea to begin the spring semester.

After telling the class of his fascination with the last names of many Native Americans, Osterlund explained that his name means he is from an eastern land.

“The light went on when the class realized I was not just another white guy. I became a real person that they could identify with,” he said. Learning the students’ last names and the historical persons and events they represent became a touch point that helped bridge the cross-cultural gap.

“Our Board of Directors deserve credit for supporting the vision that fostered this reality, and I am grateful to Professor Osterlund and Montana Southern Baptists for the outreach of our school,” said Dr. Marvin Jones, YCC president.

The class Osterlund teaches reflects a reciprocal agreement between YCC and Little Big Horn College (LBHC) – a two-year school in Crow Agency, Montana –  signed last year that permits students to enroll in classes at either college. Courses successfully completed will transfer for credit to the students’ respective transcripts.

“Last July I said that the student and campus interchange will be informative and rewarding for all involved, and what Professor Osterlund reports validates our efforts,” Jones said. “But ultimately, of course, God deserves the credit and the glory.”

LBHC students who earn an Associate’s of Arts diploma in Business may complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Business at YCC’s Kalispell campus, which includes six, three credit-hour courses. They are: Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Old and New Testament Surveys, Life of Christ, Basic Christian Beliefs, and Ethics.

Osterlund said that another key to success is “our commitment to go to the students on the reservation instead of initially asking them to come to us. They honor us for this approach.”

“We have built this relationship on respect. It is a ministry opportunity we must not lose,” he added. Not sacrificing any academic parameters, Osterlund placed a significant emphasis “on the students’ hearts by assigning passages directly related to the Gospel.”

Jones said this is exactly what YCC’s motivations are, “to educate the whole student, both mind and spirit. The Bible tells us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in our Lord. Our mission, therefore, is not simply to pursue truth but to reveal the truth, who is Jesus Christ.”

About the Author

Norm Miller