North America (MNN) — Ron Hutchcraft has seen tragedy. After more than 40 years of ministry with urban youth, sports organizations, rising Christian leaders, and even Major League Baseball teams, he has seen firsthand how hard life can be.
Yet even for Hutchcraft, there can be surprises. “Never in all my years did I find such brokenness as I did when I got to Native America and learned about First Nation young people and reservation young people,” he said.
Though he believes most Americans understand the historical atrocities committed against the First Nation people, “we don’t see the modern tragedy that’s happening today.
“Native American young people are literally suffering from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome,” said Hutchcraft. “They’ve never been to Afghanistan and they’ve never been to Iraq; they just grew up on a reservation, and that’s all it takes.”
A legacy of sorrow still follows many First Nation people, said Hutchcraft. “It’s not uncommon to be a Native American young person and have already buried 15 people who are closest to you, most of them having died either by self-destructive behavior or by suicide itself.”
Because of the “serial grieving” that many young people experience, “they are addicted to the pain relievers that you try to use to deal with this serial grieving, to alcohol,” said Hutchcraft. He said rates of sexual violence, suicide, and substance abuse are shockingly high among First Nation youth. “In Alaska, the rate of suicide is 20 times greater” than the rest of the United States.
But with so much tragedy, Hutchcraft said, “it could all be happening invisibly to the people who are best positioned to do something about it; American Christians.”
That’s where Ron Hutchcraft Ministries is stepping in.
The story of Jesus rings especially true for many First Nation people. “Jesus happened to come from a tribe called Judah and lived on land that was occupied by the Romans,” said Hutchcraft. “He loved nature, he told stories, he lived poor, he lived homeless, and he died a violent death. Does this sound like anything we know? It’s the story of the Native Americans.”
On Eagles’ Wings teams are helping spread the word. First Nation youth go into reservations and spread the love of Christ, and the ministry concludes with numerous public confessions of faith.
“We know the toxic environment in which they must serve Christ and they become equipped with native Christians following Jesus and becoming warriors for their people,” said Hutchcraft.
The Warrior Leadership Summit provides that training, but Hutchcraft said it can’t happen without your prayer and support. Consider giving and learning how you can pray here.
“They will do what your heart might want to do, but you couldn’t do,” said Hutchcraft. “They will break through to their people in Jesus’s name.
“Hope has been a long time coming to Native America, but hope is on the way.”