North America (MNN) — On many Native American reservations, drug abuse and alcoholism run rampant. Most live in poverty, and many have not even heard of Jesus.
But every year, young adults from nearly 100 different tribes throughout the U.S. and Canada receive a message of hope. And soon, they will hear it again. Ron Hutchcraft Ministries is holding its annual Warrior Leadership Summit Conference and Summer of Hope tour, bringing the Gospel to some of the most spiritually-deprived people in North America.
“The great thing about Warrior Leadership Summit is when these young people walk into that room, we hear them say time and time again, ‘I realized that I’m not alone,’” says Brad Hutchcraft. “And this is what’s so huge. We had one of our young people who said when you’re at your reservation, you think you’re alone because you’re the only believer there. Then you come to WLS [Warrior Leadership Summit], and there’s over 600 there.”
The event is put on by RHM’s On Eagles’ Wings team–a group of trained Native American young people who share personal stories of triumph over hopelessness. About 600 young people and leaders attended last year, and Hutchcraft said he is hoping and praying for 800 this year.
“We certainly would love to have some people praying with us for that many,” says Hutchcraft.
But that’s only the start. Following WLS, RHM workers, as well as about 60 On Eagles’ Wings members, will travel to 10-12 villages across the U.S. to share more “Hope Stories.”
“They will stand on basketball courts, and they will tell that they were the abuse victims.They were the suicide attempt. They’ve been the drug dealers. They’ve been the gang members,” Hutchcraft explains. “But they have found freedom through this relationship with Jesus Christ.”
This freedom is something Native Americans desperately need. Between December 2014 and March 2015 at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, over 200 people contemplated, attempted, or successfully completed suicide, including a 12-year-old girl. Tribal officials say nine people were successful.
This can largely be connected with Native Americans’ interaction with spirits.
One youth worker at the reservation said many have had suicidal dreams. “The spirit is going to make me kill myself,” the worker said in an MNN article, explaining how people were describing their dreams. “The spirit wants me to kill myself. It’s a really scary thing for someone who’s 13, 14, or 15 to deal with a spirit invading your life and trying to push you over the edge.”
But how big of a difference can a few “Hope Stories” make? Apparently enough to change a life. Hutchcraft explains how one girl went from nearly taking her own life to teaching children in her church, and eventually talking with the First Lady about a mentorship program she started.
“The Lord used WLS and your staff to change my life that summer,” the girl said in a letter, according to Hutchcraft. “I went from being a suicidal, broken girl in need of a Savior that [I] did not know, to being a strong woman of Christ who can stand before hundreds of people, including government officials, and speak on sexual assault awareness and suicide prevention as a survivor. I have the opportunity to show people the love of Christ, and I want you all to know God used your camp in a huge way to enable this to happen.”
Through God’s power, you too can help transform lives. Pray for the On Eagles’ Wings team as they bring hope to those in despair. Pray also that Native Americans would be encouraged and recognize the joy found in Jesus.
“Prayer does change things,” Hutchcraft affirms. “It changes people, and it changes hearts. That has been true from the very beginning to this day, and praise God for that.”
You can also help financially. Visit RHM’s donate page to see how you can support an On Eagles’ Wings team member or make a general donation.