Next week, young Native Americans from about 100 different tribes are converging in Roach, Missouri for the Warrior Leadership Summit from June 26-July 1. This conference will kick off the 2017 Summer of Hope with On Eagles' Wings, and Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries is expecting God to do an amazing work in these young people's lives.
"Warrior Leadership Summit is a singular, one-of-a-kind youth conference that's specifically geared to the challenges of Native American young people. And if there is a group who has been neglected and overlooked and invisible in our Christian world, it has been Native American young people."
These teens and young adults in Native American communities face unique challenges and situations that can make being a Christian particularly difficult. Hutchcraft paints this picture:
I want you to imagine that you are a Native American young person who has Christ in your life. Now the very fact that you do makes you very rare among your people, because 96 percent of Native Americans have no relationship with Christ, even though there have been 400 years of mission work ... So you feel terribly alone. You live among a people who believe that Jesus is the "white man's God," and that's why so few people know Christ.
I also want you to picture now that you have buried many of your friends already who have died from suicide—rates, by the way, that are off the charts—alcohol, drugs, abuse. You, yourself, very likely are a victim of abuse, perhaps sexual violence. Perhaps you, yourself, have considered ending your own life. So here you are, so alone, so terribly alone in such a difficult environment.
Then, you walk into a room where there are literally hundreds-upon-hundreds of Native American young people from about 100 different tribes all over the United States and Canada, and they are singing together the praises of Jesus Christ. They are there under the banner of Christ. It literally blows you away, and in that moment, you say, "I am not alone."
Hutchcraft's illustration is the real-life scenario for many of these Native young people who will attend the Warrior Leadership Summit. And it makes the Christian conference vitally important for their spiritual encouragement and revival.
Some will even attend the conference who don't have a relationship with Christ. "It's quite possible that as many as one out of four young people who come will begin a relationship with Jesus Christ there," Hutchcraft says.
At Warrior Leadership Summit, the leaders, the praise band and the speakers are Native American Christians and can empathize with these young people as they present the hope of the Gospel. There will even be issue-related breakout sessions called "battle councils" that address specific challenges these teens and young adults face.
Hutchcraft says the goal of the conference is "to send back warriors for their people who can truly become change agents back home."
The theme of Warrior Leadership Summit this year is Invincible: More Than Conquerors. "We're so excited about that particular theme," Hutchcraft shares. "If you think about all of the life-draining forces that are at work on so many Native young people—because they are victims of abuse in many cases, because of the depression, because of the feeling that there is no way out—they are pretty beat.
"To realize that there is a Savior who has conquered what no man was able to conquer, who has walked out of His grave under His own power, who has beaten the biggest monster of all; that with this Christ ruling your life, it is possible for you to beat what has always beaten you ... And the very things that have robbed the people you love of their life, of their hope, you can now go back and begin to rescue them as a victorious, unsinkable warrior of Jesus Christ."
He continues: "There are so many spiritual forces fighting for the lives of these young people that they literally have to be prayed to the conference, they have to be prayed through the conference, and prayed that the Holy Spirit will overwhelm every other spirit in their life and capture their allegiance for Christ for the rest of their lives."
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