One reservation has more suicides than any other area in the state. The other reservation is flooded with drugs and the death it brings.One reservation has more suicides than any other area in the state. The other reservation is flooded with drugs and the death it brings.
Thank God, we didn't have to choose which one we went to. God has given us a strong team of warriors that enable us to divide our army and fight for lives on two reservations at a time.
I was privileged to be with the team on the North Ridge Reservation. My son, Brad, headed with half our warriors to the Peach Valley Reservation - where too many have been lost to suicide. The story of our second Summer of Hope battlefield starts there.
It was a special experience seeing Peach Valley through the eyes of Wes. His first time on the team was five years ago, and this is one of the communities we visited that year. During our last visit, it was a very different picture. We had been invited in by just a couple of local believers, and while they were passionate about follow-up, there just weren't enough people to keep it going very long.
This time, as we met with our local hosts, Wes looked around the room to see ten ministry partners representing seven local churches! What a difference to see the Body of Christ united in this area to care for the harvest in Peach Valley.
It wasn't easy to get to the harvest this time around. Wes led this half of the team door to door in the pouring rain, determined to personally invite as many as possible. We watched the crowd build slowly, as the rain initially kept some away, but the clouds parted and the people came.
Our team talked with the young ladies who were lonely, the young man who was fighting with his anger from the moment he arrived, and the single moms caring for their children. The team brought hope to the hurting.
And our faithful messengers spoke about that hope. Eric, who is Quechua (the largest tribe in the Western Hemisphere) shared about finding his identity in Christ. One of our quietest team members overcame her shyness to share an amazingly powerful Hope Story, and you could hear a pin drop as people listened in. Others shared about everything from bullying, to abuse, to the heartbreaking issue of suicide that has devastated too many.
Then Wes - that once-upon-a-time first-year team member, but now one of our strong team leaders - stepped up to the mic on the final night, boldly and passionately delivering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this young man was able to watch many invite Jesus into their hearts for the first time, knowing there are people across this reservation ready to water the seed.
Two people came forward, but got nervous and quickly headed into a nearby park. And two of our team members immediately pursued them. That is this heart of this team of warriors. No matter the challenges, no matter the setbacks, they have come to fight for their people.
Fifth grade. She was dealing drugs. In fifth grade! Because her siblings were starving and her parents were nowhere.
But, then, drugs are everywhere on the North Ridge Reservation. And the venue for our rescue events was right in the heart of the dealers and the users.
From our first night, our mission there was clearly going to be challenging. Unexpected storms forced a last-minute change of venue to a gym. On a different part of the rez. And though this team was facing the greater challenges of an indoor facility and the smaller size of the crowd, they rose to it, using it as an opportunity to establish relationships.
Night Two on the court in "drug central." An onslaught of mosquitos that distracted everyone and some heat and fatigue malaise for some of the warriors. But Jesus wins as we get reports of one of four young people there choosing Jesus on that court.
God poured His power out on Troy (Lakota) as he told his story of battling depression - and almost choosing suicide - after his best friend ended his life that way. And how, at the point of being another statistic, someone brought him to
Warrior Leadership Summit where he found life in Jesus. And Marnie (Onondaga) had everyone's attention as she told her story of a mom in prison, a dad who left and a heart full of pain she tried to sedate with drugs, then an attempted suicide. And the Jesus who changed her darkness to light.
We strongly felt the presence of Jesus was all over that court. In the middle of the invitation, there was a sudden, jarring interruption. Thank God, for young warriors who did not let that stop them! Because of their efforts, lost young people continued to come to Jesus until the final moments.
But the intrusion right at the moment of commitment was a powerful reminder of our enemy's hatred for this team and the war we are in. And a dramatic example of how desperately we need and appreciate your prayer!
Now life has come to this death-dealing community. Including the girl who resorted to dealing drugs to rescue her family. She has her first real hope. She has Jesus in her heart. And the bag of groceries we gave her.
This team has had to fight, to overcome in order to win hearts to Christ at North Ridge. Both teams, battle-tested. And ready for the lives-at-stake battles on eight more reservations.
Two teams. Twin victories. Hope times two.
* Names and locations changed for privacy.