USA (MNN) — Generally speaking, there’s a deep divide between the indigenous people of North America and Christianity. But difficult is not impossible, and the Lord has a specific calling for Native believers.
“They’re the most powerful messengers to go to their people,” Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says.
“It has always been rare for a Native American to choose Christ. Then, when they do, there is something very powerful unleashed.”
In 2020, Native Americans comprised approximately one percent of the Christian population in the United States. “For 400 years, the percentage of Native people who chose Christ and ended up living for Him for a lifetime has been discouragingly small,” Hutchcraft says.
“For the most part, Jesus has been ‘the white man’s God.’ There are historical reasons why that lie has been told and believed for much of that time.”
On Eagles’ Wings, a division of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, is a Native-focused youth ministry. Learn how you can pray for and equip Native believers here. “For the past 30 years, we watched them battle for their futures, their lives, and the battle for their commitment to Christ,” Hutchcraft says.
“It’s been awesome to see the difference they can make; they are the face of hope for their people.”
Below, Hutchcraft describes why Native young people are so influential when they come to Christ.
1. They are overcomers.
Many reservations host significant challenges and obstacles. “There are so many broken places in these young men and women. One tribal judge said, ‘It’s like not having been to war, but still having PTSD from where you grew up,’” Hutchcraft says.
American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to experience violent crimes, at a rate of two-and-a-half times higher than the national average. Compared to all other racial/ethnic groups, indigenous people are twice as likely to experience rape or sexual assault crimes. Furthermore, Native youth have the highest suicide rate among all U.S. races/ethnicities.
Tragedy underlines the personal and community stories of most On Eagles’ Wings team members. Yet, they’ve found hope and transformation in a Savior.
“They have overcome huge obstacles to emerge as people with hope and a joy in living, and an ability to stand strong for what has changed their life,” Hutchcraft says.
2. They are deeply spiritual.
As described here, Native American beliefs vary by tribe. However different they may be, one principle crosses tribal lines. “If you are an indigenous person, your spirituality – whatever it is – [involves] your whole life,” Hutchcraft says.
By contrast, “many of us in the mainstream culture kind of have Jesus as a ‘compartment’ in our life,” he continues.
“A Native person comes to Christ understanding this affects your whole life.”
That understanding fuels powerful intercession. “I’ve never heard people pray as fervently as indigenous people do. I’ve not seen many tears among my own people, but I have among them,” Hutchcraft says.
“When brought under the leadership of Christ, you have deep spirituality and a powerful Savior. It’s an amazing combination.”
3. They are warriors.
Native believers recognize Paul’s directions in Ephesians 6 regarding spiritual warfare. They will persevere through countless battles to win their communities for Christ.
“They fight for what they think is important. We know the history of Native people; what warriors they have been. Well, if you are a warrior for Christ, you now have a powerful warrior fighting for the greatest cause on the planet,” Hutchcraft says.
4. They are passionate.
The same desire that began On Eagles’ Wings 30 years ago fuels today’s OEW team members. “Over the years, thousands of Native Americans have chosen to come to Christ through their (believers’) witness, influence, and through their prayers,” Hutchcraft says.
“Forty years ago, Dr. Billy Graham said Native Americans are (spiritually) the sleeping giant in this country, and if ever there should be a great revival among them, perhaps they would become the evangelists who would reach America for Christ.”
5. They are resourceful.
Finally, Native believers carry so much potential because they “are highly resourceful,” Hutchcraft says.
He points to the tribes of the Great Plains as an example, describing how the indigenous people used buffalo. Some Native people describe their ancestors’ thinking: “Give me a buffalo, and I’ll make a house out of it; a wardrobe, weapons, meals; toys for my kids.”
Header and story images courtesy of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.