A suicide epidemic diverted

By February 26, 2008

USA (MNN) — Last fall, Ron Hutchcraft Ministries sent an emergency "On Eagle's Wings" team to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Todd County, South Dakota.

Craig Smith says a suicide epidemic there had reached alarming proportions, with roughly a thousand attempts in 2007. In most cases, people groups who report statistics like that wind up front-page news. However, the despair on the reservation has largely gone under-reported and unnoticed.

The Sioux Tribal President was forced to declare a state of emergency to bring some attention to their problem and get some federal help. Yet despite the attempts to stop the despair of the youth, not much changed until a church leader called Smith and begged for some help.

That led to a rapid response team's dispatch to the reservation in October, 2007. "The local ministry partner that we worked with reported to us, 'Craig, since the team has been here, in November, December, the suicide rates just dropped off 75%.' " 

The spark of hope ignited the local ministry. Smith says their partner reports, "'Praise God! This year, in the first two months of 2008, there hasn't been a single suicide on this reservation.'" 

Their team is made up of Native young adults who connect in ways other teams can't. "We're just thrilled with the way God is using native youth that have come from the same pain-filled backgrounds as many of the youth that we connect with on these reservations," explains Smith. "God's using them, native youth sharing the hope of the Gospel with native youth, and native youth are responding in unprecedented ways."

During these unique outreach experiences, the young Native and First Nations people use various sports, Christian music, games, and food to attract a crowd and then share how Jesus Christ has given them hope and changed their lives.

They invite people to make a public commitment to Jesus Christ, and Native and First Nations people make personal decisions for Jesus Christ. Click here if you want to support their work.


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