North America (MNN) — Native Americans – also known as American Indians or First Nations – are one of North America’s most-overlooked people groups.
Despite hundreds of years of missionary work, less than 5-percent of Native Americans identify as followers of Christ. Many Native communities resist Christian outreach because of past abuses. Learn more about that here.
According to Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Native citizens often view Jesus as “the white man’s God.”
“It’s very rare to find any significant youth ministry on a reservation, and yet, they are the most broken, most devastated kids in America.”
Healing for the brokenhearted
The U.S. and Canada hold hundreds of Native American and First Nation tribes. Each one has its own rich heritage, culture, and language. Despite being distinctly different from one another, the same evil haunts them all.
National statistics reveal the brokenness plaguing Native America, says Hutchcraft. It’s “demonstrated by a suicide rate that’s anywhere from 3- to 10-times that of the rest of the young people in America.
“The rates of drug abuse and alcohol abuse, and sexual violence against women, are off the charts.”
Nonetheless, Christ has won the hearts of some Native youth. They’re carrying His hope to their people through RHM’s On Eagles’ Wings ministry. Learn more here.
“There is, in the young people of Native America, a warrior spirit that has been there for a long, long time,” notes Hutchcraft.
“Unfortunately, the battle today is not against external forces so much as what’s going on right in Native communities. The hurt that is there, accumulated grief from so many years and so much loss.”
Warrior Leadership Summit 2019
Not all American Indian or First Nation communities struggle with poverty – but some do. As described here, chronic unemployment cuts opportunity short in Native-majority counties of Alaska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
As such, Native believers from these communities need help attending OEW’s annual Warrior Leadership Summit – it kicks off the ministry’s summer outreach. Help someone attend the summit here. “These young men and women come from Indian nations – indigenous nations – across the U.S. and Canada. Every tribe is more than a tribe, it’s a nation,” Hutchcraft adds. “We had 83 Native nations represented last year at Warrior Leadership Summit.”
One nation is often described as “the suicide capital of North America.” Located in Ontario, the community is small – roughly 2,500 residents – but each year it loses several people to suicide.
“This is a community where little six-year-old kids are in the woods huffing gas and dying from it,” Hutchcraft describes.
“It’s just an unbelievably dark and painful place to grow up.”
Yet – just as dawn breaks faithfully every morning – Christ overcomes the darkest night. God’s using the generous gift of an unknown donor to send an infusion of hope to this pain-ridden community.
“They will probably be the largest group at Warrior Leadership Summit this year. They’re [going] because some Christian somewhere cared about kids like these.”
Header image courtesy Tolka Rover via Flickr.