The Church and a Native Perspective in Minneapolis
Transform Minnesota desires to listen and lean into the experiences of our Native American brothers and sisters. Our new Communications Coordinator, Katy St. John, was able to sit down with TJ Valtierra, Senior Pastor at Testimony Church in South Minneapolis this past month and learn about their ministry and hope for the future of their church. Pastor TJ leads in multiple ways throughout his community as a rapper, pastor, mentor, Program Director for the Boys in Girls Club in Little Earth, husband, father, and coach. After becoming a Christian at the age of 21, he went to North Central University and studied to be a youth pastor with a Youth Ministry Major and Bible Minor. He has been in Little Earth for 6 years now.
Tell us more about Testimony church and the community that you serve.
Our mission is to encounter people right where they are, engage the world with a relevant message, encourage people in their faith, equip the saints to do the work of ministry and empower all to live in their divine purpose.
“Testimony Church is newly founded, housed in Lebanon Lutheran in South Minneapolis. Our mission is to encounter people right where they are, engage the world with a relevant message, encourage people in their faith, equip the saints to do the work of ministry and empower all to live in their divine purpose. Our church family is multicultural in many aspects, but primarily Native!
We recently had our first night of Summer Outreach! We had close to 20 young people. Games, pizza & a word on what it means to count it all ‘Joy’ when we go through life’s trials.”
What is the relationship between your ministry and churches outside your Little Earth/South Minneapolis community?
“As of right now there really isn’t a big relationship. We have had support from really only 3-4 churches, but in the past aside from them, it has always seemed driven by power and control instead of letting us exist in the way that God has designed our ministry to exist. An example of this is that churches love the idea of doing an annual event at Little Earth of United Tribes, so they bring things to give away, but the people here need mentorship, discipleship and family.”
What does partnership with other churches look like to you?
“There is definitely an opportunity if it’s the right match and an understanding can be worked out. For us it would look like true investment, trust and relinquishing of resources and control to do the outreach, events and ministry that God has called us to do in the way that He has called us to do it.
For us it would look like true investment, trust and relinquishing of resources and control to do the outreach, events and ministry that God has called us to do
We are boots on the ground every day in the community doing the hard work of discipleship and mentorship. There is always an open door for a ministry to partner with us financially, prayerfully or in person and feel free to always ask about the specific ways we need you.”
What do you want white majority churches to hear from you?
I have prayed for years that Indigenous people would have a seat at the table where real decisions are made
“I would like them to know that my people need heroes that look like us not like you. Look at the great Exodus for example. God sent Moses – a Jew, to free the Jewish people out of slavery and the world needs heroes of diversity from all backgrounds, races and cultures. I have prayed for years that Indigenous people would have a seat at the table where real decisions are made, real resources are dispersed and real power is used for God’s kingdom.”
TJ Valtierra aka 2Braidz is tri-racial and an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe people. A husband, father, rapper & leader in the community are some of the roles that TJ fulfills but a follower of Jesus is who he is at the core. Saved from a life of sin, gangs, drugs & crime himself, his mission is to reach the lost and disciple those who are seeking God.