The Founder and Vision
“Our Native Christians are a quiet people, but if they are taught the power of prayer and power of the Holy Spirit, they can go to their families, tribes and nations and speak boldly the Word of God. Then, our evangelism strategies like the early church, will be effective and powerful not only in the location where we live, but in other Native villages, in every part of our reservations and even to the remotest tribe and nation.”
It is with this hope and expectation that the vision of CHIEF has been forged.
CHIEF’s motivation vision is to see an effective Christian witness in every Native American tribe and all related tribes in this generation.
Being a fourth generation Christian, Tom has always praised God for his rich heritage. His great grandfather, Adam Elliot Thomas, whose Mohawk name was “Split the Sky” was one of the first Christians in his family. So, too, followed two additional generations–Adam’s son, Freeman Thomas–the Freeman’s daughter, Theresa, and her husband, Huron Claus and two daughters, until Tom, when at the age of 14 accepted Jesus Christ into his heart.
In January of 1945, Tom made a life changing commitment to preach the Gospel of Christ to his own people when he saw the great spiritual need of the Seminole Indians in the Florida Everglades. He didn’t know how he would answer God’s call, because he stuttered and stammered all his life, except when he sang. But, when Tom surrendered his life to preach, God took away the stuttering. Six months later, at an Indian camp on the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation in northern New York, Chuck Pamp, a Potawatomi Indian evangelist asked Tom to preach in a Sunday afternoon service. From that moment on, Tom has faithfully preached the Word.
Another of Tom’s favorite verses is II Timothy 1:12;
“How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for choosing me as one of His messengers, and giving me the strength to be faithful to Him.”
From a vantage point of almost 60 years since he committed to God to preach the Word, Tom can look back and see how God led him and his family to work with some of the greatest Bible teachers and evangelists in a generation and time of tremendous spiritual harvest. Men like Dr. Harry Ironside, Dr. Oswald J. Smith, Dr. John Rice, Dr. Andrew Telford, Dr. Bob Pierce of World Vision, Dr. Cameron Townsend of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Dr. Robert Evans of Greater Europe Mission, Dr. Bob Cook, Dr. Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, Walter Smyth, George Beverly Shea and other members of the Billy Graham Team, Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, Coach Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers, and Dr. Joseph Stowell, former President of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. Additionally, there have been scores of other Godly leaders and people who made a great impact on Tom’s life, and ultimately on the corporate life of CHIEF and the 1,200 tribes known as Native Americans.