"The reservations that God has led us to this summer–working in partnership with people who are there day after day and are trying to find a way to break through to the young people there–comprises one of the most challenging itineraries that we have had in many years," says evangelist and ministry founder Ron Hutchcraft.
The summer outreach begins in June with the annual Warrior Leadership Summit, where hundreds of Native American young people will gather to learn more about Christ. Out of that Summit, 50-60 Native youth will join a traveling team to spread the saving message of Jesus Christ on several reservations.
All reservations have difficult histories. Most are riddled with sky-high suicide rates, domestic violence, drug abuse and poverty. But this summer, the team will enter some of the most dangerous and at-risk Native populations in the United States.
"One of the places we're going is the #1 poorest place in America," says Hutchcraft. "It is a tough, tough place to grow up. Over half of the people there live below the poverty level, and at certain seasons of the year, there is 90% unemployment."
At another reservation the team will visit, suicide has become too overwhelming even for professionals, says Hutchcraft. "The suicide problem among 12, 13, and 14-year-old kids on this reservation has claimed so many lives that the people who work in the mental health area on that reservation have basically quit. They say, ‘We can't take it anymore.' It's just horrific."
The team will also head into some of the most dangerous Native areas: "One urban center we're going to be going to is probably the epicenter of violent, Native American gangs in that entire part of the country. It's, to be very honest with you, a dangerous place to be. Yet we believe that God has called our team to go in there."
Only 5% of Native Americans in the U.S. know Christ, says Hutchcraft, even after 500 years of Christian ministry. On these challenging reservations in particular, Christ is the only hope for a future.
Hutchcraft explains, "Nothing is breaking through to these young people, and in many cases, honestly, if they don't come to Christ, they will not be alive much longer. That's not an overstatement. That is statistically true. It is tragic."
The Gospel may just break through this summer, though, as it has done in reservations across the U.S. and Canada for the past 19 summers. Native American young people will tell other Native young people about their own stories of pain, and then the life they found in the Lord. Opportunities abound for this summer's ministry, just one element remains absent.
"We should not go unless God's people are committed to praying," says Hutchcraft.
With such a trying itinerary for the team, fervent prayer is more crucial than ever before. Ron Hutchcraft Ministries is offering a free prayer calendar along with a free book of Native youths' hope stories to get believers on their knees for this lost people group.
This summer could be the difference between life and death for hundreds of Native young people. To see what God has done in past years and to get your free prayer materials, visit OnEaglesWings.com. Then, start praying.