BOLIVAR – When a missionary to the Navaho spoke at 9-year-old Kurt Caddy’s church, he couldn’t have known the impact his words would have on children for generations to come. Caddy, the Director of University Ministries at SBU and father of six, recently penned and illustrated Keep Hope Alive, a children’s book designed to share biblical hope with Native American children and communities.
As a young boy, Kurt Caddy found himself gripped by the stories and lives of Native Americans. His curiosity led him to devour numerous books in the school library, and anytime he had the choice to do a project for class, he always chose something related to Native Americans.
As he grew older, his fascination developed into a mature appreciation for Native American history, culture, and artwork. Reading about their historic plights left a permanent imprint on Caddy. Although not himself a Native American, following high school he began to use his artistic abilities to create Native American artwork.
“I put myself through seminary through Native American art reproduction,” Caddy said. “I’ve always had a real affinity for Native Americans, their art, their cultures.”
Caddy has served at his capacity at SBU since 1996, and part of that position includes overseeing the multiple mission trips SBU takes during the year. His service has taken him around the world ministering in territories ranging from Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and numerous places in the United States.
About 6 years ago, Caddy ran across a study that detailed the life of the Lakota people, an impoverished Native American group living on a the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. The study showed low levels of education, high levels of substance abuse and suicide. Caddy was stunned by the report and showed it to his staff.
“If this place is half as bad as what it looks like on paper,” Caddy said, “its where we need to be.”
For the last six years Caddy has led teams to Pine Ridge and has developed a deep love for the Lakota and that culture. After one of the initial visits, Caddy rediscovered his love for Native American stories and art. He began to draw again, and he “rediscovered a mixture of inspiration, desire, and talent.” Paintings, sculptures, and other creative art soon followed.
“I feel like God has made us in his image; we are creative by design. I just happened to be inspired by Native American Cultures, by their culture and their art,” Caddy said.
In August of 2015, Caddy began work on Keep Hope Alive, a story based on an old Native American tale that Caddy described as common to various tribes, but exclusive to none. Caddy adapted the story and sought to weave in biblical truths about the Creator and the hope he gives to those who follow him. His goal is to contextualize truths in a way that Native people will appreciate with a sensitivity to skepticism towards “white man religion.” The refrain of the book speaks of the Creator’s purpose and provision of hope in the midst of despair. Caddy is hopeful that this message will impact the Lakota children, his primary audience, but also their parents and the Christian community at large.
Caddy said, “Sometimes the best way to reach adults is to reach their kids.”
The harcover book includes 32 8inx12in pages, fully colored and illustrated by Caddy. The first edition of 500 copies is currently in production and will be available in early September. For more information, visit his forthcoming website, 4windsart.com.