North America (MNN) — Not long before the On Eagles’ Wings team arrived, two 11-year-old girls committed suicide. The day the team showed up, a child was set on fire by a group of other children. Three out of four babies born in this community are born addicts.
This was the last Native American community the On Eagles’ Wings team visited for their Summer of Hope outreach — and it was one of the darkest places the ministry has been to in a long time.
The On Eagles’ Wings team consisted of 46 young Native American men and women from 28 tribes. They took the Gospel to 12 Native communities this summer, traveled over 3,000 miles, and led 29 rescue events.
Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries traveled with the team and says it was incredible to watch Native young people reach their peers with life-saving hope. Many of the team members came from broken pasts themselves and could share how Jesus made all the difference in their stories.
Going to share that Good News with their peers wasn’t easy. And yet, Hutchcraft says, “They are overcoming their fear to go out and tell their people in hostile environments about Jesus. They understand that they are the best people to reach their own people tribe to tribe. They understand the importance of fervent prayer. They are not defined by the pain of their past. They have decided to be defined by who they really are — as sons and daughters of the Most High God.”
At each Native community they visited, On Eagles’ Wings worked with local Christians who are ready to follow-up with people who make a commitment to Christ.
“We’ve been back just long enough to start to get reports back of what’s happened when the team left and they’re having the events that we suggest they do to continue the momentum so that a movement can be born on that reservation.”
When the young Native believers with On Eagles’ Wings arrived at the last Native community — which was the most hope-starved community they visited — they were weary from a long summer of outreach.
However, their biggest challenge was still before them — a challenge that would become their greatest victory for the name of Christ.
Hutchcraft explains, “It’s a reservation where the tribe has declared a crisis in drug trafficking. We told our team they couldn’t wear sandals because of all the drug needles in the grass where we had our events.”
The local children behaved wildly, always fighting and even attacking the team’s equipment. However, the reason why these kids were acting out broke the team members’ hearts.
“A tribal elder explained it. She said, ‘Most of these kids have been abused, most of them sexually abused, and their parents don’t want them home ever because they just want to do drugs at home. They are in essence orphans with parents, just trying to raise themselves.’”
Hutchcraft shares, “That’s the environment this team came into. Now, they know broken because they have lived broken. They told their hope stories and they took time building relationships and expressing the love of Christ by the way they treated people.”
Through sports outreaches, fun prizes, music, and being willing to just sit and talk with people, the team members saw hearts slowly start to open. They had their biggest audiences of the summer show up for their events. But the best was yet to come.
On the last night, young Native men and women with On Eagles’ Wings shared their hope stories publicly and how Jesus saved their lives. It struck a chord.
“The night of the public invitation in this most broken of places was the largest harvest of the Summer of Hope as people surged forward to give their lives to Christ in this desperate place.”
The team saw double the number of commitments to Christ here than in any other Native community they previously visited.
In all, when the Summer of Hope was over, 601 Native American young people from 12 communities embraced Jesus as their Savior.
So who were some of the young men and women who started living new lives for Jesus? Hutchcraft says, “One was the girl who saw her sister commit suicide and had to cut her down. She gave her heart to Christ this night when the team was there.
“The five girls with cut marks all over their arms from trying to bleed out their pain. The one who had carved the word ‘alone’ in her arm. She’s not alone anymore. All five of those girls were led to Christ by one of our young warriors.
“The boy who said, ‘My dad left, my mom died, and I was just beaten up by 15 kids.’ [He] gave his life to Christ that night when he thought there was no hope.
“A relative of the boy who was set on fire, who came very much from the centuries-old traditions of the tribe, but that night he chose Christ as his Savior.
“The young girl who was molested on Christmas Eve and has tried to deal with the pain by cutting, mutilation, [and] drugs. Well, we’ve got girls who have experienced the same thing and one of them led that girl to Christ.
“[A] young man came,… he is the last of four people in his family left. The others have died terribly and he had even attempted suicide the week before, but God spared his life so that the following week he could give that life to Christ instead of taking it. He was kept alive until we got there and I believe he was kept alive by people’s prayers.
Hutchcraft reflects, “So in those hundreds of Native young people choosing Christ, our stories are people like this — answers to the prayers of God’s people…. This, more than anything else, is obviously a report on what Jesus did because only Jesus could have broken through on these places.”
The Summer of Hope with On Eagles’ Wings may be over, but this is just the beginning for many of the team members. Out of 46 Native men and women from the team, as many as 28 of them may be headed to Bible school or getting Bible training this fall.
“These young warriors are the object of some of the most severe and relentless attacks by the enemy of any people I know. There is so much in their background that Satan wants to use to try to drag them away from this incredible calling that they have stepped up to. They are the point of the spear of a powerful move of Jesus among the First People of this continent.”
To continue propelling this Gospel movement among Native Americans, Hutchcraft emphasizes the need for God’s people to pray.
“Please pray for their spiritual protection. Pray for their strength to stand in toxic environments. Pray that what they experienced this summer of how God could really use them would turn into a calling to spend their life reaching their people for Christ.
“Secondly, pray for the people on the reservations where we have been who are working on follow-up right now to secure for the future these commitments that young people made…. We’re praying that God will use the efforts of these local people who are using a strategy we’ve given them that will cause there to be an ongoing light for Christ to a younger generation for years and decades to come.”
For his third and final prayer request, Hutchcraft references Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Hutchcraft asks, “Let’s pray that prayer for the young warriors of On Eagles’ Wings. Let’s pray that prayer for the people who invited us to these reservations who are now trying to build a long-term youth ministry out of that momentum. Let’s pray that prayer for the young men and women who gave their lives to Christ this summer, that the good work God has begun, He will carry on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”