Watch this powerful new highlight video of God at work in Native America -- Summer of Hope 2023!
SUMMER OF HOPE 2023 CLOSING REPORT
"These past few reservations I could feel God breaking my heart for young teens and adults. I can only imagine what Jesus must feel."
Megan (Navajo), OEW team member
"I have seen God bigger than ever before."
Mark (Cayuga, Mohawk), first year OEW warrior
This summer was all about hearts. Including mine. None of us who were eyewitnesses to God's work this summer will ever be the same. My hope is that, as you read this final report, you'll be able to feel some of the heart of what you prayed for and gave for. First, here's a quick overview of the ministry of this team...
26 warriors, representing 18 tribes
Traveling over 3,000 miles
Leading 19 outreaches
On 7 reservations
Leading 7 Youth Ministry Roundtables with follow-up partners
And hundreds of Gospel conversations and lives changed
Their mission included:
One of the poorest and most violent reservations in America (listed as having the most people in the government's "Deep Poverty") and one of the most traditionally spiritual, Gospel-resistant tribes - in the midst of their centuries-old ceremonial season.
The 2023 warriors rose to every challenge.
The Summer of an Overflowing Heart
- The Life-or-Death Prayer
So many times I've asked friends like you to pray a prayer I never prayed until I went to Native America - "Lord, please keep them alive until we get there." The urgency of that prayer was vividly displayed this summer. When a team member felt led to talk to Emily, a battered young mother on the outskirts of our event. She had been thrown out by her abusive boyfriend and was now homeless, shoeless and without hope. Though our team member was 1,000 miles from home, their stories were a divine match. That mom began a relationshipwith Jesus that night. (P.S. - And our team member gave her a pair of her shoes!) Later Emily said: "I was headed for that bridge over the Interstate. I planned to jump. You saved my life." Two nights before, a team member felt led to talk to three sisters who did not go forward at the invitation. Three sisters whose dad had ended his own life months before. They were planning to do the same that night. But instead of dying, they received God's gift of eternal life.
These are the stakes, night after night. And the answer to prayers like yours.
- The Center Court Miracles
Every night the Gospel was powerfully, passionately presented, in personal conversations and public "wrap-ups." It's tough to imagine a harder Gospel invitation to respond to than on a basketball court in the middle of a reservation, surrounded by your people. The Gospel-presenter will say, "If you're going to come, come now." Then that long silence that may, in fact, be only seconds long. Then that first one walking to center court - followed by people coming from all around and beyond the court. Often with the OEW warrior who fought for them, standing by their side. I never get over witnessing that moment.
- The Fearless Rescuers
Many are introverts, shy, quiet. But not this summer. Not when souls are at stake. Every night they were in the battle, meeting strangers, pouring out their story, fighting for hearts. A boldness seldom seen among God's people.
- The Holy Tears
Megan speaks for many of these precious warriors. Their hearts were broken for lost ones they talked to - you could tell by the many tearful prayer visits to us during outreaches, with the warriors feeling and grieving the lostness of someone they had shared with. Our verse became:
"Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them" (Psalm 126:6)
- The Worth of One Lost Soul
The turnout was slim that night of the record-breaking heat. Not many people. So commitments were few. But one was the beloved aunt of one of our warriors - a victory that thrilled us all. The next night the sister of another warrior surprised her by showing up. It was another night of holy tears as our warrior got to lead her lost sister to Jesus. And thinking of that young mother Emily, I told our team: "When you go out tonight, don't see the crowd. Look for that one shattered life in the midst of the crowd. Look for your one." Night after night, they did. And often brought that "one" to Jesus.
- The Discipleship Destination
For the first time in 32 summers, there's a Leadership Center. A discipleship destination where we can finish the powerful work God starts in warriors' lives during the summer. Yes, my heart isvery, very full.
"I'm hoping the Leadership Center will disciple me in many ways. That I'd be ready to be sent out into the world to do the work and bring Him glory!"
Megan - from her Leadership Center application
The Summer of Hope 2023...
Souls were reborn.
Reservation youth ministries were born from the harvest.
Young leaders were called to a lifetime of serving the Savior.
And this fall, those leaders will be discipled and equipped for a lifetime of living and leading for Him.
The Summer of Hope is over... but this story has ONLY BEGUN!
Thank you for loving... for praying... for giving!
* Names and locations changed for privacy.