Some of the people who are most in need in today’s world live near us – and we may not even know it. Native American youth face significant challenges with alcohol and alarmingly high rates of suicide. And now, heroin use is spreading across the reservations.
Each summer a group of committed First Nation Christ-followers powerfully share the gospel on reservations through the On Eagles’ Wings ministry. We hear the story of this remarkable effort on Connecting Faith, as we welcome back our friend, speaker and evangelist Ron Hutchcraft.
Ron explains the profound challenges that many First Nation young people face. Their suicide rate is three and a half times higher than that of the rest of America’s young people. Behind that lies a sobering history that’s robbed a people of their hope for the future. Ron believes this story represents the greatest youth tragedy on our continent.
After four hundred years of interaction with Christianity, only four percent of Native Americans believe in Jesus. Why is that? Ron shares about the perception that Jesus represents the “white man’s God”. It’s difficult to get to the heart of the gospel when so many First Nation individuals associate Christianity with their historical experience with European culture, a history that’s seen the Native American population dwindle from an estimated 10 million before the arrival of Columbus, to a current population of 200,000.
And yet – in spite of all the foreboding realities – there is great hope here! We hear of many young First Nation young people giving their lives to Jesus. Ron shares of the incredible things that they’re doing after they make that decision. We hear about Warrior Leadership Summits being held each summer, bringing hundreds of youth together and representing scores of different tribes. At these events, the realities of the challenges and pain faced by Native American communities is tackled head on, through the prism of the hope that Jesus represents.
We also discover the very real ways we can help – including perhaps the single most important thing we can do: pray.
You can download a prayer kit here.