Mission Moments

Encountering the Spirit on the Rez

Going All-In

The trip to Pine Ridge is something that has changed my life forever. Starting out on this trip when I was a junior in high school, I didn’t get it. Sure I would help here and there but for the most part, I was in it to be around the people I cared about the most – friends and family.

Upon returning from the trip I noticed that something had changed but I didn’t know what. Another year rolls around, and so does another trip. This was the last trip I could go on before going off to college so I wanted to make it count. I set a goal for myself to be all-in, no matter what it was. Because of this goal I took the trip more seriously; actually immersing myself in the work, the people, the land, and the culture.

This time it felt…. different. Not the kind of different you feel when you are left out of something, but a good different. Upon returning this time I truly felt like I was becoming a changed person, becoming more humble, closer to God and His children, and closer in faith.

Searching for Connection

Years go by and I’m now a college graduate. I am utterly and completely wiped out, burnt out, and drained. I wasn’t active in my faith at all while at school, I tried a few services out here and there and after they didn’t work, I checked out. At this point I am searching for something – something that I am familiar with and have felt before, but is distant.

The day I came home from school and was at the end of my rope, I get a message from Sarah saying there was a spot open on the south Dakota trip and asking if I wanted to go. I did not hesitate to say yes because I felt like this was a gift from God – this trip was meant to be.


Sam (on the left) in the Kitchen at the Wings as Eagles Ministry campus


Met by the Spirit

Upon arriving at the Pine Ridge reservation I felt a very physical, very real wave throughout my body. I didn’t know what it was until I returned to Pine Ridge a 4th time…. While sitting at the altar that our initial group created so many years ago, I began to feel that same feeling again… against the backdrop of the badlands and endless plains; I finally figured out that this feeling, the feeling that I have been chasing for years now was the Holy Spirit.

As I am now rounding out my 5th journey to Pine Ridge, another year older, now a church employee; I continue to feel the almighty power and presence that the Holy Spirit has placed on this magnificent land, and I would not trade it for a single thing on this earth.


  1. Stephanie Christensen on August 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Sam, thanks for sharing. You are so inspiring and your commitment to keep going back is priceless.

  2. Lori on August 9, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    I am in tears Sam, this is beautiful. If I leave this earth tomorrow, just reading this alone would have made all of my years here worth it. You blessed me greatly.

  3. Tammy Fish on August 9, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Well written Sam! It has been a blessing to watch your faith journey over the years, God has great plans for you! Thank you for sharing!