North America (MNN) — The rope was draped over a tree tucked behind a building. Under it, a Native American young woman stood, ready to say goodbye in a community where so many others did the same.
Then, she heard something. Another Native young woman’s voice on a loudspeaker. She was telling a story.
The woman on the loudspeaker said her name was Rachel. She had been abused by a man she should have been able to trust. She hated Christianity. She burned Bibles. She had no hope. She, too, almost ended her life. But something stopped her.
As the woman listened, she left her rope and plan behind to find and follow the voice.
She found Rachel at an On Eagles’ Wings ministry event. Native young people spoke in an open space with other young folks from the local Native community gathered around.
The women walked right up to Rachel and said, “I was just down the street behind a building with the rope over the tree to end my own life. I heard your story. I’m here to find out what saved you.”
Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries was there that night. According to him, “That night, instead of that woman taking her life, she gave her life to Jesus — because of the power of a Native young woman reaching the heart of a Native young woman with a story of hope.”
Empowerment in Ministry
Rachel’s story illustrates the power of Native believers reaching their own people with the hope of Jesus Christ. Earlier this week, we talked about how Native America is the forgotten mission field. After 400 years of missions in North America, only four percent of Native Americans know Jesus.
However, when non-Native Christians reach out to Native communities with the Gospel, it can look like sidelining Native believers while the visitors do the heavy lifting.
Hutchcraft says this method, while not ineffective itself, does not honor our Native Christian brothers and sisters’ role in the Church and even dampens a ministry’s impact.
“When I think about the many churches’ vacation Bible schools on reservations, [I] praise God for the mission efforts that there have been. If it weren’t for those, there might not be four percent [of Native Americans] who know Christ.
“But the mistake we make when we go in is we do it for them instead of with them.”
Instead, Hutchcraft says, “We ought to pair up with some young Native people and have them do it with us and, slowly but surely, work ourselves out of a job so that one day, there’s a VBS that is put on only by their own people.
“That’s what I mean by empowerment. We need some people who will be a voice for Native Americans.”
Sending Native Young Christians
On Eagles’ Wings, a branch of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, empowers Native young Christians like Rachel to be agents for the Gospel in their own communities.
Soon, On Eagles’ Wings will launch a Summer of Hope missions team with about 45 Native young people. This team will travel to several Native communities across North America to share food and games in public spaces like basketball courts or parks. In short, they’ll build relationships and spark community.
But most importantly, at the end of each visit, the team members publicly share their hope stories — how Jesus changed their lives.
“I have seen what happens when Native people are empowered and unleashed under the banner of Christ. That warrior spirit that’s always been in Native people — under the leadership of Christ — becomes an incredible force for the Gospel.”
Join the Warriors in Prayer
To have an effective ministry this summer, the Native team with On Eagles’ Wings does need to be equipped and sent by the Church. You can play an active role in commissioning this team of Native young people by supporting a team member with finances and prayer.
When you give, you’ll get a prayer card. Hutchcraft says, “We want to give you actually one of these warriors to pray for, so you will have their name and their face and their tribe for you to pray for.”
Please pray for the team’s spiritual protection — both during and after Summer of Hope. Ask God to prepare the hearts of the Native men and women joining the On Eagles’ Wings team and even call some to long-term ministry.
Pray also for the Native partners who have invited On Eagles’ Wings to visit their communities. Ask God to bless the ministry of these partners and maintain their Gospel witness as the local Church.
“This is the most exhausting mission work I’ve ever done in my life,” Hutchcraft says. “It drains you mentally. It drains you in every aspect of your life. We need supernatural strength, supernatural preparation of hearts, a supernatural response when the invitation is given to begin a relationship with Christ, and a supernatural long-range outcome — that out of the moment will come a movement that will last a generation and more.”
Header photo courtesy of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.