Roaring River is a reservation with some of the most tragic history in all of Native America. Their story of death and injustice is all too familiar. But it's the tragedy of today that is destroying a generation of this storied people.
Every person I've asked here about the young people has answered with the same ominous word. "Drugs."
June 1, all tribal members got a "per capita" check. By the end of June, 86 Roaring River young people had overdosed on heroin. Fifteen died.
The back page of tonight's tribal newspaper is a picture of a Native girl, sprawled facedown on the floor. The text says, "Heroin kills the pain...and the joy and the hope and the body and the brain and finally the soul." It is a sign of the tribe's desperation over the wave of death sweeping over their young people.
Heartbroken local believers are telling us, "God has sent On Eagles' Wings for such a time as this."
Our 1/3 rookie team got its first test on Night 1 at Roaring River. It was a half hour before starting time, and there was no one at the court but them. That's highly unusual. The warriors had canvassed many homes in the afternoon, but word spreads slowly on a reservation this size. Several rookies took the initiative to go out by the street and start waving folks in. If you drove or walked by our event, an OEW warrior was going to get you!
This first night, the team literally had to fight for the Roaring River young people they had come to reach. And by the end of the night, we were celebrating our first Roaring River commitments to Christ. And a "buzz" for the next two nights!
From the first Hope Story on Night 1 to the final Hope Story/Gospel message on Night 3, there was a holy hush everywhere as team members poured out their heart. Like Cara (Navajo) on Night 2, crushed emotionally by a dad who was "always high" and with "other women."
She said, "I never felt like I belonged. By the age of 17, I needed to not be sober, because I couldn't handle it." She was living high or drunk all the time. Until someone invited her to Warrior Leadership Summit. It was there Jesus captured her heart - "He has seen everything I've done and what was done to me -and said ‘I love you.' It was a riveting moment.
That night our attendance more than doubled - and one out of four people there indicated they had given themselves to Jesus!
In just 24 hours, God had brought this new team from "nobody there" to community magnet. Locals were posting on Facebook: "The Native kids that came to put this on are awesome." "Amazing people from all over the map. Kind, helpful, easy going." "One of the best things I've ever been a part of in my life."
Our final night was our largest. And the decisive night of a public invitation to "come to center court" if you're choosing to follow Christ.
Travis' (Creek/Cherokee) Gospel wrapup was riveting with a compelling presentation of the Cross, of a living Savior and the choice to be made.
Then came the call to those who had prayed with Travis in their heart - "if you're going to come, come now." Nobody moved. Then the dam broke. First two basketball players boldly walked to center court. Then they came from every corner of the court and beyond.
If I could transport you to one scene from our Roaring River mission, it would be to watch the explosive joy of the new team members who had just led their first person ever to Jesus. There truly is no joy than leading someone to your Jesus. And it's habit-forming!
Amazingly, as many as one out of three Roaring River young people at our events crossed over from death to life! And in the heart of an embattled reservation, hope has won a very public victory in the Name of the One who IS hope!
And as I told the warriors at our debriefing, on a reservation tired of news about addiction and death, good news has come. And it looks like the young warriors in blue shirts!