USA (MNN) — Warrior Leadership Summit, an annual U.S. youth conference, is bringing revival to Native America. Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries quotes Matthew 4:16 to describe what’s taking place: “The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light, and on those living in the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
“That’s what happened at Warrior Leadership Summit (WLS).”
As written on the On Eagles’ Wings Web site, “WLS is a conference designed to disciple and encourage Native young people, ages 15-35, in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Every summer, hundreds of young people from tribes all across the United States and Canada come together to worship, learn, have fun, and connect with each other.”
“It’s just for Native American young people about what Native American young people face,” clarifies Hutchcraft.
Under a central theme, “Out of the Shadows,” WLS speakers addressed the common issues plaguing Native American youth: suicide, addictions, sexual abuse, broken families, anger, absent fathers, and the list goes on.
“These are the most broken young people I’ve ever met in a lifetime of cross-cultural youth ministry,” Hutchcraft observes.
According to the U.S. government statistics, Native Americans are more likely to admit using illicit drugs within the past year than any other ethnic group. More than twice as many Native Americans live in poverty than the rest of the U.S. population. In addition, Native Americans die from alcohol-related causes six times more often than the national average.
Statistics among Native American young people are even harder to bear. The suicide rate of Native American youth is over three times the national average; on some reservations, it’s 10 times higher. They are exposed to traumatic incidents twice as often, and Native American youth are twice as likely to die before the age of 24 as any other race.
“[Spiritual] strongholds in their lives are huge, beginning with how many ways they’ve been sinned against as children,” notes Hutchcraft.
As young person after young person shares his or her testimony at WLS, one question keeps coming up: “How in the world could that much hurt and that much sin and that much violence happen in one life?
“It’s inconceivable that this is the story of one person’s young life. And yet, that’s what happened.”
Still, hope remains. After connecting with Native young people in their various “pain points,” WLS speakers introduced Christ and the hope He offers. And, despairing youth responded.
“About one out of [every] three of the young people who attended gave their hearts to Christ at Warrior Leadership Summit,” shares Hutchcraft.
“We had twice as many young people go to the lake and the waters of baptism as ever before.”
As these young people return home, they need your prayers.
“Our goal here [at Warrior Leadership Summit] is that there’ll be permanent, lifetime disciples who go back to their reservations as warriors, as change agents, as future leaders for their people,” Hutchcraft explains.
“It’s not just a youth conference to give kids a spiritual high. It is to equip them to go back and change some of the most hope-starved, Gospel-starved places on this continent.”
Pray for strength for these young people to stand firm in their new-found faith. Ask the Lord to encourage and uplift Native youth who are tempted by the lure of suicide. Pray for Gospel workers who are bringing His Truth to reservations in the U.S. and Canada.
Another group of 54 forever-changed Native American youth is sharing Christ with their peers on reservations in five different states. Read their latest updates here.