Chief Joseph RiverWind and his wife, Dr. Laralyn RiverWind, have been building bridges between Jews and Christians for the past 16 years.
Joseph was raised in a mixed spiritual family that included traditional Native American ways, non-practicing Catholicism and Evangelical beliefs. He embraced Yeshua at the age of 30.
After the death of Joseph’s father a few years ago, he inherited generational books, photos and other items that made it clear that the Spanish portions of Joseph’s family were, in fact, Sephardic. This was confirmed through DNA tests and genealogy tracking done by the Institute for Sefardi and Anousim Studies at Netanya Academic College. But the news of Joseph’s Jewish heritage came well after he had begun taking up Jewish prayers, festivals, studies and socio-political causes.
Laralyn was raised in a Christian home and has been a believer since her youth. She was raised to love and support Israel.
Together, they have spent the past 15 years embracing Torah and weeding out pagan practices from their religious beliefs. Today, they run FireKeepers International in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
After completing a pilot program in Israel in 2018, the RiverWinds were made “Ambassadors of God” at the Knesset by former MK Rabbi Yehuda Glick on Jerusalem Day.
Joseph is a “peace chief” and the ambassador of his Native American tribe, Descendants of Puerto Rico's First Nation. Laralyn is the ambassador of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee. But they say that their favorite titles are “servant of God” and “friend of Israel.”
Christian World caught up with the RiverWinds.
What is the main focus of your activities today?
We are preparing people for hard times. We believe that hard times are coming for Jews and Christians. We have been saying this for about a year and we are beginning to see some of that already unfolding. We desire to see the two [religious] groups work together to optimize survival.
One of the ways we do this is by fighting antisemitism through public speaking and social media platforms.
How long have you been doing that?
For the last year, we have been focusing on survival/hard times. But we have been working on Jewish-Christian relations for 16 years.
What are some of the successful related programs or projects that you have done this year and in past years?This year we have been working with Jews and others to supply Native Americans (on and off reservations) with personal protective equipment and food during the COVID-19 crisis.
How did you get to where you are today?
We got where we are today by loving the Creator, loving others and listening to wisdom from our elders.
What do you think God is doing with regard to Jewish-Christian relations?
We believe that God is doing the following:> Calling Christians to repent for the sins of the past toward the Jewish people.> Calling Christians to bless Israel/the Jewish people – not so that they themselves will be blessed but instead out of pure love for the Jewish people.> Healing the heart of the Jewish people of the wounds of the past.> Beginning to build relationships between Jews and Christians so that they can work together during these upcoming hard times.> Building a new, unnamed category of people who are hard to define under traditional religious labels. People who love the Creator and His Book, who read it, study it and live it.
About this column
Over the past few decades, a community of activists in the Christian-Jewish engagement space has developed, with people reaching out to each other to promote fraternity and humanitarian projects in and between the Christian and Jewish communities.
In 2020, Root Source and Israel365 initiated “Bridgebuilders: Top Activists in Christian-Jewish Engagement,” honoring 70 of these trailblazers.
Each month, Bridgebuilders will bring one of these leaders to Christian World so readers can learn more about these people, their projects and the efforts going into Jewish and Christian relations.
You can reach the author at [email protected].