The On Eagles’ Wings’ discipleship conference for Native American young people transforms lives and brings hope. This year, that’s still going to happen—just not in person. Ron Hutchcraft explains how the ministry thought through this difficult decision.
“It was impossible to bring all these young men and women together responsibly, safely, and maybe even legally. It was a heart-wrenching decision, but then we just said, ‘Okay, Lord, you’ve closed the door, but the mission hasn’t changed. How can we do this?’ As many churches have discovered, our one way to put it within [the young peoples’] reach would be online.”
“This year, instead of [young people] coming to Warrior Leadership Summit, Warrior Leadership Summit is coming to [them].”
Hutchcraft says many of the young people attending virtually from June 29 to July 3 will still be able to experience the connectivity and community that is key for engagement.
“Many of the leaders on reservations who bring young people to Warrior Leadership Summit have organized to have their group together wherever the reservations are open enough to do that right now,” he explains. “That’s most of them at this point.”
For five nights, young people will watch a 45-minute presentation, including a welcome, worship, and message. Attendees will still receive a kit that includes items such as a conference T-shirt, worship music CD, and even snacks. Hutchcraft says that the messages each night will cover major life topics that have a huge impact on these young peoples’ lives.
“We’ll be talking about your choices, your future, your pain, your past, and your relationships. There will be at least two opportunities for them to choose Christ to be their Savior,” he says. “Those nights they will text us the word ‘hope’ to let us know they did. [Then] they will receive some tools that will help them strengthen their relationship with Christ.”
Because of the high suicide rates among Native Americans, Hutchcraft recognizes that the chance to connect with them and show them the hope they can find in Christ is particularly crucial.
“On a night I was speaking, I asked, ‘How many of you have ever attempted suicide, thought seriously about it, or lost somebody your age to suicide?’ Almost every hand in this huge conference went up,” he says. “It is indicative of the level of despair, but [highlights] the significance of a hope-filled, life-changing week where hundreds come to Christ, and many others are equipped to be warriors for their people.”
Praying for Impact
The good news is Hutchcraft believes this could be the most impactful Warrior Leadership Summit yet.
“We have continued to hear from a lot of people that have never come before,” he says. “It looks very, very likely, [that] this Warrior Leadership Summit will impact more Native American lives than we’ve ever had in the room.”
Hutchcraft emphasizes the importance of prayer, especially for an online event of this size.
“The event has to be backed by a massive amount of prayer because the communication is not as intimate as it would be if they were in the room with us,” he says. “Let’s pray that we will still have a large number of Native American young people choose to step into a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Hutchcraft also encourages those who can to give to help Native American young people here. Gifts will be matched until June 30.
Header image courtesy of Grant Whitty via Unsplash