Please watch Caitlyn's powerful story, as she shares her heart for her people.
It was literally centuries ago. The light of the Gospel was lit in the hearts of the people here. That was then, this is now. The light has burned very low.
They were some of the first Indigenous people on this continent to hear about Jesus. Now many see anything Christian as an enemy.
Enter On Eagles' Wings 2022. Partnering with Anna and Shawn. Both from this tribe. Both been away for some time. Both deeply touched by God recently - called to come back home because their people are at such a critical point spiritually. Both leaving financial security and sacrificing comfortable lives to answer heaven's summons. And now in influential tribal positions - but paying a heavy price for being Jesus-followers. Shawn said he has been asking God, "How do we break the ice with our people?"
For them, the faces of the young warriors of OEW are the face of hope.
Nights One and Two
Night after night this summer, local young people have commented on the love they felt from the team. This time, Carlyn talked to a girl who still remembered her from five years ago. That girl commented how much love she felt from our 2017 visit - "but the love feels stronger here this year."
Chloe's (Crow) Hope Story had been so powerful the first time she shared it that we asked her to share it again on Night Two here. Minutes before, she came to me very nervous and scared. I suggested a prayer to her.
Later, she told the team, "So I prayed - 'Lord, break my heart for the things that break Yours.' When I got the mic, I looked in the people's eyes and saw how broken they were. So I started talking. Mattix (Navajo) said that after that some kids came to him, "about to cry after hearing Chloe." They wanted to know more." At least one of them chose Jesus that night!
Meanwhile, more of the young people there surrounded Mattix and asked if he had a story, too. Mattix formed a little circle in the corner - where it was all about this not being a religion, but a relationship with Someone who really loved them.
This is the quiet miracle that happens each night. A team member pours out their story and how Jesus changed everything. And that transparency and passion starts a chain reaction of hearts opening. That's the power of a Hope Story (testimony)!
The intensity of battling for souls each night - especially in an area where the hostility toward being Christian and being Native is especially strong - takes its toll. Kallie (Navajo) has led at least one girl to know Jesus most nights. This night, she struggled talking to a girl because "I was emotionally and spiritually drained - so I relied on prayer to try to do my best. When we were done talking, she chose to give her life to Jesus!"
It's at moments of weakness like this that I believe prayers like yours, that cover these warriors, literally are the difference!
God was all over Tyler (Cherokee) as he wrapped up Night Two with a powerful Gospel presentation. He led in a prayer of opening your heart to Jesus, then asked those who had prayed to indicate it on a comment card. Either in personal conversations that night or after Tyler's wrap-up, one out of four people there said, "I prayed to begin a relationship with Jesus tonight."
When I asked Anna, our embattled host, what she saw as she looked around that night, she said, "Everywhere I looked, I saw the grey-shirt-wearing OEW team members standing talking with our kids." That's how it's been every outreach night this summer.
And when we told Anna about the number who had responded, there were tears in her eyes as she said, "So many souls!"
We knew a lot was at stake. With so much anti-Christian influence in this tribe, a public statement of tribal young people choosing Jesus publicly - right in this park - would not soon be forgotten.
Justin's (Cherokee) Hope Story clearly opened hearts. But one woman walked away. Carlyn (Navajo) caught up with her - and the woman shared her story of years of abuse and addiction. And now one daughter has written her a suicide note from jail. When Carlyn offered to pray with her, she quickly grabbed the daughter who was with her for that prayer. It was a beautiful picture as the three women locked arms and prayed right there. At invitation time, their whole family went forward!
After Tony's moving Gospel wrap-up and salvation prayer, he invited those who wanted to begin a relationship with Jesus to step out and come to center court. And the dam broke! From all directions, they came - almost immediately. Some were running! They encircled Tony at center court, unashamed to give themselves publicly to "this Jesus who died publicly for you!"
It was, on this final night of this challenging month, the largest response of the summer!
Shawn, our strong co-host, along with Anna, said, "I've been pretty emotional the last few days - seeing God move through you guys. I didn't know how God was going to break the ice with our people - now I see. Even one of my coworkers went forward to give her life to Jesus tonight!" And Anna said, "Now there's a crack in the door - and the light can come into this reservation!"
I couldn't help but think of those people from this tribe who, centuries ago, had first seen that Light. Some of the first Native Americans to ever hear about God's Son dying for them. The Bible describes a "cloud of witnesses" - those who have gone before us - watching us run our race.
Could it be - on this night on their land - that Jesus would pull back the curtain for a moment to let them see a new generation of their people publicly choosing their Jesus?
The Light they saw so long ago is shining brightly here again on this miracle night.
|Ron Hutchcraft||Brad Hutchcraft|
* Names and locations changed for privacy.