Ron Hutchcraft was speaking on a reservation in March 1992 and was brought face-to-face with the most broken young people he'd ever seen in all his years of youth ministry. The day he left for that assignment, the largest study ever done on Native American young people was released. It called them "the most devastated adolescents in America." After 20 years of fighting their addictions, hearing them pour out unspeakable pain, and grieving over many of their funerals, that devastation is deeply personal – a heavy burden in Hutchcraft's soul.
That burden comes from days like the day they buried Jimmy. Hutchcraft reflects: "He was way too young to die, but he was finally overwhelmed by the searing memories of all the dying he'd seen. One night he simply decided to end his pain with a bullet to the head. I'll never forget standing on that windswept reservation hill, watching and listening to the anguish around that grave and joining the men who walked grimly to the edge to drop a handful of dirt on the coffin. It's a scene that's being repeated time and time again in Native communities across the continent. A generation without hope, slipping away."
But God has heard their cry. Against this backdrop of deep despair, He has chosen to unleash some of the mightiest works I've ever seen Him do. Not through Hutchcraft's preaching. That wouldn't work on reservations. Not among a people who believe that Jesus is the white man's God and His religion is the cause of so much of their loss.
He's broken through to these Gospel-hardened Native hearts through Gospel-rescued Native young people. Hutchcraft says, "He's amazing everyone from veteran missionaries to long-praying Native believers to these young warriors themselves. And me. Time after time, Native young people streaming to Christ through their witness has brought tears to my eyes and worship to my soul."
Hutchcraft says, "If you've prayed for them, if you've given so they can go, then you are sharing this burden — and these breakthroughs. You're part of a circle of caring people who are fighting for these warriors so they can fight for their people. Prayerfully, you are feeling, as I have, the deep soul-joy of knowing you're helping this continent's most broken, most ignored, most desperate young people finally experience the Hope of Jesus. You and I can't do it without these warriors. And they can't do it without us."
Hutchcraft invites you join them around their inter-tribal Native youth rescue team known across Indian country as On Eagles' Wings. In about 100 days, they will go to some 10-12 reservations to do what only they can do: present Christ through Hope Stories that Native young people will listen to, and share Jesus in a way that is proven to break through to them.
They'll be able to go because a friend like you says to these once-broken, now-powerful young warriors, "You can count on us. We will guard you with our prayers…we will equip you with our gifts." Now is the time when your support can make a decisive difference because now is the time when all the groundwork is being laid for the Summer of Hope 2012.
Your gift will help send one of these amazing young people to represent Jesus-and, in a sense, to represent you – on some hope-starved reservations. To be the difference between an early death and a full, Christ-changed life – a life lost and a life saved forever. In addition, your gift will help enable hundreds of Native young people from scores of tribes to experience the life-transforming Warrior Leadership Summit, our one-of-a-kind Native youth discipleship conference.
The vehicle for partnering with these powerful Native young people is a Warrior Scholarship. You can give a gift that pays for a day, a week or a month of their unique outreach to their people and their generation.
Hutchcraft says, "I have seen a heartbreaking need in Native America. But I have seen hope there, too – delivered by Native Americans to Native Americans – and a God who is so "mighty to save" (Zephaniah 3:17). And I stand with you in that circle of caring people who surround these warriors with their love, their prayer, [and] their gifts."
He says, "A people too long forgotten and too long lost are finally getting their chance to know the Man who died so they can live."