Final Report on the Summer of Hope 2022
God woke me up before sunrise this morning - and I grabbed a pad to take notes on what was filling my heart.
This summer full of unprecedented challenges and uncommon courage was full of God's glory moments. The rains that never came... the storms that were everywhere but over our outreach... the deep, unscheduled discipling because Covid hit our team... the ideally-equipped camp miraculously provided for Covid recoveries and extended training time with the team... the amazing heart-softening on reservations with hard hearts toward Jesus... the dramatic breakthroughs where hearts were so hard.
This morning God showed me some of what He saw this summer. It made this mission we do with you, our caring partners, more urgent than ever before!
Dramatic Changes in the Battle for Native America!
1. The battle is intensifying and the darkness is tightening its grip.
Native hearts are hardening toward Jesus. Recent revelations of historic atrocities against Indigenous children - many carried out in the name of Christianity - have fueled animosity and anger. Making "Christians" the enemy. And hearts have become more closed to the Good News of the love of Jesus. At the same time, some new tribal policies are imposing crippling limitations on missionaries. Beyond that, the already small family of Native Jesus-followers is fractured by issues of culture and faith. Efforts to bring the Hope of Jesus to the First People of this land have always been difficult. It just got harder.
2. God's people praying is the decisive factor in the battle.
If there was ever a time for the American Church to "storm Heaven" for Native America, that time is now! You could feel it - all summer long, the On Eagles' Wings warriors were confronting spiritual strongholds. All their bravery, all their resilience, all their stories were not enough to open doors and open hearts. But "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Prayer moves mountains. Prayer opens prison doors. Prayer opens hearts. Oh, that God will raise up across this land a mighty army of His people who, like you, cry out to heaven for the forgotten First People of this land.
3. Young Native leaders are uniquely positioned to be God's breakthrough messengers!
I saw it again this summer. Intensified Gospel resistance, antagonism toward anything "Christian" - disarmed by a band of "rez kids" telling their story. And His story. Not pastors. Not evangelists. Not missionaries. Just seemingly "ordinary" young people, belying the belief that Jesus is "the white man's God."
Taking risks, abandoning comfort zones, sharing transparently, displaying courage far beyond what most American Christians have ever tasted.
They are the bridge over the troubled waters. They are the messengers who are listened to. They are the hope of their people.
The moment I returned home, I went to see the progress on the Leadership Center - with applications in hand from battle-tested warriors to be among the first students there this fall. Lord willing, the first of generations of young Native leaders who will be launched from that holy ground. And with all I've just said filling my heart, six words said it all...
"FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS!"