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Rooted in Love

Published on October 09, 2023

Shannon Farlow

Del and Patti Hessling have lived in Wyoming's Wind River community for more than 30 years.

Roots of love, trust and faithfulness quickly grew deep in their hearts as they lived and raised their children on its beautiful land. Wind River, the seventh largest Indian reservation in the country with more than 2.2 million acres, is home to the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho tribes. The Native American community is brilliantly creative, full of diverse cultures and loyal families. There are, however, daily struggles for many, with high rates of poverty, alcoholism, abuse, suicide, drugs and domestic issues. Despite these burdens, there are wonderful things happening, and the Hesslings consider it a privilege to live in the community and help families grow in their relationships with Jesus.

“Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

Building Relationships
After spending 25 years as a coach and teacher, Hessling took a part-time job with FCA Wyoming, serving on the Wind River Reservation. She and Del, a retired teacher of 35 years, have built incredible friendships with the Native American people, and they are working to bring hope to the reservation through FCA programs.

“We’re rooted here, and we love the people,” Hessling said. “We have a heart for the area and want to do more for the Native American people.”
FCA programs were once thriving on the reservation, but in recent years, participation had fizzled out.

Until now.

FCA hosted its first FCA Basketball Camp on the reservation last summer. Despite strict COVID-19 restrictions and a setback with the camp’s location having to change, those who attended and those who volunteered were deeply impacted. Coaches and athletes grew their love for the game while being ministered to with God’s love.

Hessling recalled, “I’ve never seen a camp that works so hard all day long to show: This is how you live like Jesus, this is how you play like Jesus. We have already made plans to partner with Foundations for Nations, another Christian ministry on the reservation, to host FCA Camp next summer, and we are working to raise participation for next year.”

Relationships are being created and taking root. Five local coaches have also started Huddles in schools in Pavillion, Riverton, DuBois and Lander, and it’s here that coaches and athletes dig into God’s Word and learn how to be a competitor for Christ on and off the playing field. The goal is to add a Huddle to every school and community in Wind River, and they are praying for more Christian coaches and athletes to join them.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
-Colossians 2: 6-7, NIV
The Hessling family also uses their musical gifts to minister to the reservation. Songs written and played by their family band, Paskel, share stories of triumph over abuse and inspire family values and personal integrity. Their music stems from true life experiences and brings hope to those experiencing hard times, both in the Wind River community and beyond. They also share their music through a YouTube channel, Spotify and independent Gospel radio stations.

HeaderThe Hesslings opened a nonprofit coffee shop in Wind River that includes shared space for FCA’s office and meeting space for the community, homeschoolers and Bible study groups.

Roots of love and loyalty run deep for this community, and Patti expressed her devotion: “The Holy Spirit put on my heart that my mission is just to teach the truth, because truth is the light and exposes the darkness. Teach the truth. Teach the Bible. Teach right from wrong. And bit by bit, the dark can’t keep out the light. That’s why we do our [YouTube] channel and have music on our website. If it’s music, great. If it’s “Let’s talk about the Bible,” great. If it’s sports, then that’s what we’ll do, because they’ll never turn around or change their ways unless they know truth and they’re never going to know unless they learn it.”

God is moving. Things are happening. And with roots grounded in faith, the future looks promising for the beautiful community in Wind River.

Join us in praying for the Hessling family and the incredible work they are doing with the Native American community in Wind River. As they break down the challenges of serving a spread-out community with low Christian affiliation and high rates of poverty, we ask for God’s guidance in building support and deepening the roots of FCA. We pray for a movement in the hearts of coaches and athletes on the reservation, so they will come to know Jesus.

To learn more about FCA Wyoming and how you can get involved in FCA in the Wind River area, visit www.fcawyoming.org.

To get involved with FCA near you, visit fca.org.