USA (MNN) — The First People of the United States and Canada are often the last considered in church outreach programs – if they’re considered at all. But Native American experiences actually look a lot like Christ’s.
Jesus was “a brown-skinned man from a tribe living on land that others occupied,” Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says.
“[He] loved nature, told stories, was homeless, and died a violent death.”
Hutchcraft began On Eagles’ Wings 30 years ago to reach Native America for Christ. “I don’t think I could have anticipated the kinds of responses that happened on many reservations” through the years, he says.
Each summer, an On Eagles’ Wings outreach team visits Native communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. At each location, the group meets “hardened eyes and countenances of Native American young people; hearts hardened by a lot of pain and bad choices,” Hutchcraft says.
These “young men and women are convinced that Jesus is ‘the white man’s God,’” he adds.
As team members tell their hope stories and describe a Savior who understands each struggle, “I watch the hard countenances turn soft. As they (team members) extend the invitation for their generation to come to Christ, I see walls come down [and] hearts open.”
Every pain carries purpose
Through intentional discipleship, On Eagles’ Wings equips Native American believers to be Christ’s ambassadors to their people. More about that here.
Unique cultural traits are ideally suited for ministry. “When they’re quiet, a Native person is ‘reading’ a heart because their spirituality is about your whole life, not a compartment in your life. When all of that comes under the Lordship of Christ, fasten your seat belt!” Hutchcraft says.
These believers perfectly understand the pain and dreams of their peers, he adds, describing broken lives redeemed by Christ.
“The thing about a broken vessel is there are more places for the light to shine through.”
“The American Church has no idea [how powerful] for the Gospel the first people of our land could be if given a chance to know the real Jesus,” Hutchcraft says.
“Billy Graham pointed out [that fact] 40 years ago when he said Native Americans are the sleeping giant. ‘If ever there will be a revival or spiritual awakening among them,’ Billy said, ‘they might become the evangelists who would reach America for Christ.’ I believe that. He concluded by saying, ‘Remember these forgotten people.’ We are doing that right now.”
Header and story images courtesy of On Eagles Wings/Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.