North America (MNN) — On Eagles’ Wings Summer of Hope, a Gospel outreach team to Native America, finished a while ago. But the reverberating impact of Summer of Hope is still echoing into the year. As Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says, it’s a moment that is turning into a movement.
“Maybe we should call it ‘Seasons of Hope’ because it isn’t just a Summer of Hope!!” Hutchcraft quips. “What a shame it would be if it was just confined to the summer. And the reason we call it a Summer of Hope is because hope has been so hard to find in Native America for a long, long time. They are a people who have been so betrayed and who have lost so much and who have, unfortunately, come to believe that Jesus is the white man’s God because so much that was taken from them was taken in the name of Christianity.”
Suicide rates, addiction, and sexual violence are off the charts among Native communities. Today, only four percent of Native Americans know Christ, even though they were the first mission field in North America around 400 years ago.
So how does the moment of spiritual outreach among Native Americans become a movement that leads a generation to Christ?
This past summer was the 25th summer of On Eagles’ Wings ministry. Hutchcraft traveled with the team of 48 young Native men and women who are passionate about reaching their communities with the Gospel’s hope. After around 4,000 miles of travel and visiting Native American reservations, they saw hundreds of Native people come to Christ.
“The messengers of hope have turned out to be young Native Americans that we call an On Eagles’ Wings team and they’re breaking through — well, God is breaking through, through them in a way that, from everything I can tell, is unprecedented in 400 years!”
Youth Ministry Ripple Effect
One reservation the On Eagles’ Wings team went to was inundated with drug overdose deaths. Hutchcraft says you would walk around the reservation and see all the old, discarded needles from drug use. The shadow of death was tangible.
When the team went in and held their outreach events this past summer, they saw God move. The team declared the Gospel to the tribe’s young people and several committed their lives to Christ. The On Eagles’ Wings team then met with some of the local Christians for a youth ministry roundtable to affirm an ongoing ministry strategy.
From there, Hutchcraft reports, “Within days of the team leaving, [the local youth ministry] had their first event, and guess what? Seventeen more came to Christ! And the team was gone! The movement has begun. Then they did a second event and more people came to Christ! So following the model of On Eagles’ Wings to the best they can, they have started now an ongoing movement of youth ministry that had never existed there before. Praise God for that!”
The same thing is happening on many reservations the team went to as local missions and pastors are borrowing the On Eagles’ Wings outreach strategy.
“I had one pastor tell me on another reservation in another state from this summer, their comment was, ‘We have learned so much from all of you. We watched how you did it. We learned ways to do it we would never have thought of, and now we are replicating what we saw On Eagles’ Wings do.’ Well, we thank the Lord for that; that the movement continues and the miracle of this summer continues.”
One Young Man’s Personal Calling
Hutchcraft adds, “There’s more to the story of the summer than just what’s happening on the reservations. Remember, I talked about 48 young warriors. Now, you can probably imagine they are God’s little army, but they are Hell’s big target and I cannot tell you how much Satan hates and bombards these young men and women.”
Many of these young men and women have sensed the call to go into full-time ministry. On Eagles’ Wings is providing scholarship funds for them to go to Bible school or a Christian college for ministry training. Some of those young men and women have even started their training programs this fall.
On another reservation On Eagles’ Wings visited this summer — one of the toughest reservations they traveled to — there is one Native pastor who’s been reaching his community with the Gospel for over 30 years. But it has been difficult for this pastor because he hasn’t had a young Native believer who could come alongside and help him with youth ministry.
This past summer, one of the young men from the On Eagles’ Wings team felt God calling him to go join this pastor on that reservation and spearhead the local youth ministry with him.
“He’s already meeting young men and they’re going, ‘Wait, I recognize you! You were with that team!’ Because they loved the events, they loved On Eagles’ Wings. So now there is a day-after-day youth leader who has been On Eagles’ Wings trained, who is now on that reservation. And boy, I’d ask you to pray for him, because there is a battle. There has been a key soldier needed and God has summoned him to go there.”
A Time for Spiritual Renewal
Hutchcraft says the team has kept in touch with each other these past few months following Summer of Hope. And the next thing on the agenda will be a winter break retreat in a few months that he believes will be a necessary time of spiritual renewal.
“We need the help of some people to pay for that. We don’t have the funds to do this right now. But we will pull them together for a renewal, refreshing kind of ‘between the summers’ place where we can just pour into them and help them heal and renew and reset their relationship with Christ where that is needed.”
If you go to hopefornativeamerica.com/donate, you can give in support of this ministry! Those funds will be put towards the upcoming winter break retreat to spiritually renew these young Native believers.
And, as these young men and women continue to serve as ambassadors for Christ, Hutchcraft says we can pray alongside them. Pray for God to protect them from mental and emotional attacks, from attacks on their faith, and that their lives would be shining lights to everyone around them still living in spiritual darkness.
“I ask those who are listening or reading this to pray for…this to be a generation changing movement that has come out of the powerful work of this team of young Native Americans.”