North America (MNN) — Imagine trying to stay standing as the heat of the July sun beats on the asphalt of a basketball court beneath your tired feet and the stench of marijuana fills the air. It’s grueling work, and the intensity of your situation weighs heavy on your senses and your heart.
It’s all worth it as a Native young person steps forward, tears streaming down her face, ready to find a friend in Jesus.
That’s how the On Eagles’ Wings team is spending their summer. They’ve traveled from reservation to reservation, bringing the Word of God to Native young people across North America.
But Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says their story starts long before the first trip of the summer to Roaring River* reservation.
Hutchcraft was on a road trip the first time he and his wife felt led to pray for one of the reservations. “We were driving in a region I’d describe as Gospel-starved and hope-starved. We didn’t know any tribes in that state, but as we drove right by a reservation, we felt compelled to stop and pray there for a few minutes,” he said.
What he didn’t know at the time was the absence of any church or ministry on the reservation. The residents had no access whatsoever to the Gospel. “Finally, the door opened to this reservation that is very hard to access, and I now know the name of the people there very well, I do know that community very well, and I know where we are. In fact, in recent days I’ve stood on that ground I once prayed over,” Hutchcraft said.
Just this summer, the On Eagles’ Wings team visited that reservation. Hutchcraft said on the last night, “In that moment, the Holy Spirit swept the basketball court, and it was a massive response to the call to give your heart to Jesus.”
Another story came from a reservation whose missions’ history goes back even further. It sits on the land where one of the first Bible translations ever completed in the Americas was written.
But when Hutchcraft and his team visited a year ago, “We got there to find out that there was an epidemic of drug overdoses. The first lady we met said, ‘I’ve had 10 people I loved die in the last 12 months.’”
They continued their program, working out of the park that was usually used for drug deals. They worked through the smell of marijuana, and this year they were able to see the results of God’s work.
“As we went back this year to follow-up and strengthen what God had begun, our host there, a member of that tribe, told our team, ‘Since On Eagles’ Wings came last year, there has been one drug overdose death,’” Hutchcraft said.
Their host went on to say that the reservation credits it to the On Eagles’ Wings program and was shocked to see the Gospel literally saving lives. That very week, Hutchcraft reports that a man showed up to the event to deal drugs to the Native young people “and left with Jesus in his heart.”
He rejoiced, “No team can do that; that’s our Jesus! When the power of Jesus came to that reservation through young people — broken people, yes, but young people He used as His messengers — it has changed a whole community.”
The team is thankful for the prayer that has sped them on their way, and Hutchcraft is thankful for the young people willing to go.
“I believe honestly that every victory we have seen this summer, unprecedented victories, can only be attributed to someone praying,” he said. “Whether it has been a Native person on that reservation who maybe didn’t even live to see their prayers answered or whether it’s someone reading a story like this who has been praying, we are reaping the answers to their prayers.”
“Jesus is not the enemy. He is the best friend we could ever have.”
*Names changed for privacy and security.