North America (MNN) — North America’s largest Christian event for Native American and First Nation youth is coming up in July: Warrior Leadership Summit (WLS). Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says many first-timers show up with a heart full of skepticism.
“Many of the attendees come predisposed against Jesus already because they have grown up believing Jesus is the white man’s God.”
Nonetheless, God’s Spirit works in powerful ways. Hundreds of Native youth like Jamie meet Christ for the first time, and they learn how to live for Him on the “rez.”
Of abuse and addiction: Jamie’s story
Many youths who attend Warrior Leadership Summit have a story like Jamie’s. She grew up in a remote corner of a Navajo reservation, Hutchcraft begins. While the neighborhood was tough, Jamie’s home life was even more difficult.
“Her dad abandoned her, neglected her, mistreated her; she was abused as a young girl,” he shares.
“She started to drink and then drug, and finally reached a point – by her own telling – that she literally could not stand to be alive unless she was high or drunk.”
Jamie isn’t an exception. A survey published last year found “Native American youth report substantially higher use of alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, and other illicit drugs” compared to the national sample.
Additionally, “Inflated rates of substance abuse plague tribal communities… it is something Native people and tribes have been battling for years” the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) reports.
Everything changed when Jamie learned about Warrior Leadership Summit.
“She got on a bus, rode a long time from the Navajo reservation to the middle of the country… and heard about a Jesus who said, ‘I can introduce you to a Father who will never hurt you, never leave you, and always love you – no matter what’,” Hutchcraft recalls.
Beginning with the Summit, the Holy Spirit led Jamie from a life of brokenness to one of promise. She turned away from her former life and became a new person in Christ. Today, Jamie attends Moody Bible Institute, where she’s studying to obtain a leadership role on the reservation.
Jamie’s also intent on reaching her people for Christ.
“You should see her stand on basketball courts – where there are a lot of ‘Jamies’ – and tell [her] story, and tell Jesus’ story, and lead so many Native young women to Christ.”
God used many things to prepare Jamie for change, but sponsorship was the catalyst. Hutchcraft says Jamie attended Warrior Leadership Summit because someone “paid her way.” Sponsorship covered Jamie’s transportation and conference costs, enabling her to attend WLS and meet a Savior who changed her life.
Will you be a catalyst for someone like Jamie?
Through sponsorship, you can cover the WLS costs Native young people can’t afford. Learn about poverty in Native communities here. It also helps equip Native believers for the Summer of Hope outreach.
“The conference is the epicenter of an entire movement of God that’s going on by Native young people to Native young people for Jesus Christ.”
To sponsor a warrior, visit HopeForNativeAmerica.org and select a sponsorship option.
Header image is a representative photo courtesy On Eagles Wings/Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.