Watch this powerful new video featuring recent OEWLC Graduates, sharing about the impact of the OEW Hope Team
Summer of Hope 2023 Front-Lines Report - Our Second Reservation
I sit here looking at my computer screen, wondering how I can possibly tell the glory story of these past three nights. I'll try - because we were living the answers to your prayers.
The Miracle on the Court
It started with Night Two on the Bluewater Reservation.
God used Travis' powerful Hope Story and preaching of the Cross to bring many to the Cross - one out of five people there indicated they had prayed to begin a relationship with Jesus.
Then came Night Three. On the way over, I said to my son Brad, "I think I can sum up how I'm feeling about tonight in one word. Expectant." Little did I know.
The stage was set by Kristen's (Navajo) compelling Hope Story. All around the court, no one moved, everyone listened. The abuse and abandonment from her "medicated" family brought little Kristen to the brink: "I was 8, and I wished I was dead." Later she would run out of reasons to go on living.
But then the love of a Jesus-changed family member turned her lonely heart toward Jesus. She was radiant telling how Jesus has given her an unshakeable sense of belonging and a life-changing sense of worth. She said, "He has told me that I am His masterpiece creation" (Ephesians 2:10). The hearts her story opened would open to Jesus a few minutes later.
I've heard Troy (Navajo) speak a number of Gospel wrap-up messages. But this night, the passion and urgency of his pointing to the Cross was beyond anything I'd heard before. He led in a clear prayer of trusting Christ as Savior, followed by a call to "give yourself publicly to the One who died publicly on a cross for you."
That's when heaven came down.
They came from every corner of the basketball court. They came from all around the perimeter. They came from behind our vehicles. They came from everywhere! It seemed that virtually everyone was at center court!
The scene that followed brought tears to our eyes. Holy huddles, on the ground, all around the court - where OEW warriors met with local young people, reviewing the Gospel and clarifying the commitments.
The next day these grounds might be just a basketball court. But this night it was holy ground.
But that would not be the end of the story. For God would meet our team in an amazing way back at our debriefing.
The Miracle in the Team
Warriors began to share what we didn't see on the court.
Leslie had been a strong team member. But college compromised her. One night at a party, too drunk to remember, she was sexually assaulted. Deeply ashamed, she returned to the Savior she once served. Later, after years of faithfully following Jesus again, she was again reaching Native young women as an OEW team member.
Mandy was the girl God led Leslie to - clearly no random connection. Mandy had, like Leslie, been living for Christ. But a time came when she attempted suicide - and nosedived spiritually. Away from God, she, too, was sexually assaulted. This night she brought the baby that came from that violation. God had brought Leslie nearly a thousand miles to meet her mirror image - a divine matchup to rescue a lost young woman just like her.
Leslie was the perfect messenger to tell this broken young woman that "you don't have to live in shame. You are still worthy." Holding Mandy's baby, Leslie told her, "You are God's masterpiece and your baby is God's masterpiece." Mandy surrendered her life to Jesus that night. And Leslie's story touched every heart in the room.
Since we arrived at Bluewater, we had been praying for Jeff, the lost nephew of Mark, a beloved Native member of our OEW staff. His nephew is a natural leader, enthused about bringing many friends to WLS next year. But still without Christ. Until the invitation. Mark said he knew this would anger his spiritually traditional brother. But Mark said, "I asked him if this is something you want to do," and Jeff said "yes!" - and he took off for center court. Later Jeff said, "My father is not going to like this, but I'm choosing Jesus."
And Mark's nephew said, "Some day I want to be in one of those grey (OEW) shirts." Mark said, "Then make the Bible your life."
By this time, Mark was speaking through tears. Tears which we shared.
Then came Missy's story, powerfully reminding us of the stakes of our mission. Missy (Apache), a first year OEW warrior, met a girl who said she had wanted to pray that invitation prayer, but "something was holding her back." Then she shared that she and her sisters were going to kill themselves that night. Their dad had taken his life two weeks ago. Missy knows the pain of that awful kind of loss - her brother-in-law killed himself with fentanyl. She prayed for them, that any generational curses would end that night.
Those three sisters prayed with Missy right there, opening their hearts to Jesus, the hope of all the world. Three young women who when they came to hear OEW were planning to die, but left with life everlasting! Because God sent His Son to die for them and a team to tell them that.
We have often prayed before and during the summer, "Lord, please keep them alive until we get there." Praise God, He did!
These are the kinds of life-giving miracles that come from your praying - and from your much-appreciated gifts that help send a Leslie or a Missy.
I asked someone to pray to conclude our team meeting. Erica's prayer literally brought us all into the Throne Room. She poured out her heart - with full-hearted love for our Jesus... with a broken heart for the lost... with awe and wonder at what a Savior Jesus is... with passionate gratitude for "choosing us to do this."
The room was filled with His glory. Our eyes - including mine - were filled with tears. We were all overwhelmed by our Jesus.
There has never been an On Eagles' Wings night quite like this. We have seen His glory.
* Names and locations changed for privacy.
Native Hope Team Needs Your Support
Help Send an On Eagles' Wings Hope Team Leader to Share Jesus on Reservations this Summer
Will you help send a Native Hope Team Leader to share Jesus with their people?
Your gift will help empower one of these young warriors to be there. And each warrior will mean someone else will have a chance at Jesus.
Your gift will help cover all the expenses to fully equip a young warrior for a Summer of Hope - transportation, lodging, food, Bibles, and ministry materials.
Thank you so much for your generous partnership!