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Published on 11 July, 2008

Native youth reach out to peers

USA (MNN) — On July 10, Summer of Hope
2008 begins. Two teams of Native American
and First Nations youth will travel through western Canada
and the Pacific Northwest, bringing the Gospel to Native communities all over North America. 

About 50 Native youth will travel with On Eagles Wings and
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, after attending training on July 8-9 and the Warrior
Leadership Summit on July 3-8. 

"They will be going right to the basketball court, right to wherever
the kids hang out," said Ron Hutchcraft. "Then they put on some sports events,
and they have live music with them and probably some pizza, snow cones and
whatever. And in that context, all night long they'll be meeting the local kids."

Christians on the reservations are preparing for the teams'
arrival and praying to overcome spiritual opposition. On Eagles' Wings will provide them with
discipleship materials to continue the youth ministry after the teams leave. 

At the beginning of August, both Summer of Hope teams will
minister at the Native Olympic games, said Craig Smith, director of On Eagles'
Wings. As many as 5,000 young Native
athletes are expected to gather there. 

Summer of Hope team members were required to attend the
Warrior Leadership Summit. A total of
over 700 Native youth representing 76 different nations all over North America gathered
for the Summit
on July 3-8. Such a large gathering of
native youth in the name of Jesus Christ is almost unheard of, according to Hutchcraft.  

"The words you heard over and over again were ‘I am not
alone. I thought I was alone.' If you are a Native young Christian, you may
be the only one like you. And imagine to walk in and…singing at the
top of our lungs, ‘How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God.' I
tell you, it just brings tears to your eyes." 

Not all of the "warriors" that attended the Summit came as Christians. 90 Native youth responded to the evangelistic
message Hutchcraft preached from Genesis 1, Smith said.  Throughout the event, the warriors
participated in large group praise and teaching sessions called Warrior Circles,
and in seminars on specific cultural and everyday life issues called Battle
Councils
. The theme of the conference was "Breaking Free." At the beginning of the Summit, each warrior received a bracelet made to look
like a chain. Every time God liberated them from an
addiction, an idol, or anything rebellious against Himself, the warriors would
tear a chain off the bracelet and throw it on the stage.

"By the time the week was over, the stage was littered with
broken chains," Hutchcraft said.  "The
real story now is young people having been transformed by an encounter with
Jesus Christ, now going back to all those reservations and reserves in Native
communities across North America."

After 500 years of mission work among Native Americans, only
5 percent have become Christians. Adult
Native Americans rarely come to Christ, and the youth respond to the Gospel
even more rarely. People living on
reservations have the highest unemployment rates in the United States. On average, their lives are 44-30 years
shorter than other Americans, due to suicide and violence. 

Communities ask the Summer of Hope teams to come, saying,
"Our kids are dying. How soon can you
come?" Hutchcraft said. "We prayed with
our team last night that God would keep the young people alive, until the [other] young
people can get there and tell their stories." 

Hutchcraft continues: "Now these young people are going to be warriors for their
generation and their people. They
desperately need the prayers of God's people. We have a "Pray for Native Youth" kit that will equip you to be a prayer
warrior for these warriors and make a decisive difference in what happens on a
dozen reservations during the month of July." 

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