up the first two days of Warrior Leadership Summit.
The hurts. And the hallelujahs. That pretty much sums up two of the currents here in the first days of Warrior Leadership Summit.
Not long ago, I walked along our Identity Wall where the young people here had just posted the pictures I'd asked them to draw. What I saw broke my heart.
On our first night, I introduced our theme, "Who Am I? - Leaving the Lies...Living the Truth." I talked about how their family has made them feel about who they are, their peers, their failures, the names they've been called. Then I asked to draw a picture that represented how they feel about themselves.
One girl drew herself with her head in her hands, her long hair covering her face. She described herself this way: "shameful...hopeless." Many of the pictures are broken hearts. One person described how his family has made him feel: "unworthy to live." Another simply wrote, "I'm a mistake." One is simply a picture of a trash can. Someone else is "broken like a toy." The final blow for me shows a picture of a girl with a bleeding heart and a dagger. And one word: "useless." Is it any wonder that the suicide rate among these young people is four times that of the rest of their generation?
There's so much pain in this room. But it was my joy to bring them the good news of who the really are - according to the Person who put them on earth. "You are made in God's image...you are God's one-of-a-kind masterpiece...you're created to make a difference." That's the life-giving - maybe even life saving truth - about their true identity.
The next morning, a young man (Sioux) whose life God transformed through his On Eagles' Wings experience, preached a powerful message called "Really, Really His." He blew away the big lie that has kept so many from Jesus - that Jesus is the white man's God.
And last night I spoke on something I could hardly wait for - "Jesus, More Than You Ever Imagined." It was such an honor to be His messenger to declare His greatness. Jesus, the Creator of everything there is. Jesus, the King of heaven, worshiped by 100 million angels. Jesus, the Defeater of the devil and the Conqueror of death. And the, Jesus the Lamb of God. The Creator of everything, the King of heaven, nailed to a cross. For us.
At invitation time, the response was almost instantaneous. Precious Native young people, on their knees, weeping at the cross. Meeting the Man who thought they were worth dying for.
In that crowd at the cross was a hard-fought breakthrough. Forty of the young people at this conference are from a remote village in Canada, accessible only by air or water. In that isolated world, little children go to the woods where you can find them passed out from an aerosol high. The alcoholism and drugs are everywhere, sedating a level of brokenness that is some of the most heartbreaking we've ever encountered. So many just give up and end their own lives. You can tell which WLS attendees are from there. They're the ones with the expressionless eyes, the emotionless faces.
But as one of our nurses said this morning, "Their countenances have totally changed overnight." That's because of what happened last night. It was the answer the lone missionary in that village has been praying so long for. Sixteen of those young people came to the cross to publicly give their hearts to Christ! That is a miracle! "On this living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned." One of them wrote, "I want Jesus to restore my heard and everything in my life. I just thank God for giving me a chance to be part of His family."
Exactly one year ago, "Matt" (Apache) was one of those at the cross. He came as a drug dealer and user. He left as a drug-free, alcohol-free and forgiven new person. Last night he was in the Warrior Leadership Summit counseling room again. Leading two young men to Christ on his one-year spiritual birthday!
This is a great beginning for a Summer of Hope.