Native Americans: Crossing the Great Divide

(Photo cred: Alan Berning via Flickr)

(Photo cred: Alan Berning via Flickr)

USA (MNN) — Some people think the Great Commission is only for overseas missionaries. According to Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries (RHM), that view often leads to missed opportunities.

“There is this Grand Canyon between the world of the American Church and the first mission field that there ever was in North America, which is Native Americans,” says Hutchcraft.

“There’s this total disconnect…they’re off the radar. And God, I think, is saying to some of us, ‘Would you be the voice? Would you speak for these people in your church and awaken people?'”

Historic misdoings aren’t the only reason for a gap between Caucasians –specifically Caucasian believers–and Native Americans. Any time cultures mix, there’s apprehension. But Hutchcraft says this divide goes deeper.

“Satan has managed to pull off a double-blindness,” Hutchcraft explains. “He has blinded Native Americans to Jesus by convincing them He is a white man’s God, not for them.

“And, he has blinded the rest of God’s people to Native Americans. We just aren’t even aware of them; we don’t even think about them.”

But some believers are bridging the gap.

Heart-to-Heart connections
After learning of RHM’s ministry, a woman invited Hutchcraft to speak at the Heart-to-Heart Women’s Conference in Arizona. Arizona is home to 22 Native American tribes, with the Yavapai-Apache Nation calling Verde Valley home. Some 2,300 people belong to the Yavapai-Apache tribe.

(Image courtesy RHM/OEW)

(Image courtesy RHM/OEW)

“Their hope was to have 40 Native women there, which would’ve been a breakthrough,” says Hutchcraft. “They had 140 [Native women who attended the conference].

“The lady who headed this all up said, ‘My prayer is that every one of those women from a reservation will know that they have a sister in the Verde Valley, and every one of our women here from the Verde Valley will know they have a sister on the reservation’.”

Hutchcraft’s response is one he hopes to communicate to every congregation that’s near a reservation.

“For so many years, there has been a Grand Canyon between the non-Native Church and their Native American brothers and sisters on the reservation,” Hutchcraft told the women.

“Today, you have built a bridge across that Grand Canyon.”

Building bridges
RHM brings the hope of Christ to reservations across the U.S. and Canada by equipping Native young people. Through their On Eagles’ Wings (OEW) ministry, RHM trains young Native Americans for peer-to-peer evangelism.

But they’re moving beyond just building bridges among Native Americans, Hutchcraft says. Now, RHM is looking to connect the North American Church with Native America. Visit HopeForNativeAmerica.com for resources you can use to connect your church with a nearby Native American community.

“There you can find DVDs, you can find a training course, [and] The Native American Leadership Institute: how to reach and disciple young Native Americans,” says Hutchcraft.

Sometimes, building a bridge starts with a simple step of friendship.

(Image courtesy RHM/OEW)

(Image courtesy RHM/OEW)

“If you go in person-to-person–and not necessarily white-person-to-Native-American-person, you’ll be a lot more relaxed because you have much more in common than you realize,” notes Hutchcraft.

Ask the Lord if He’s calling you to speak up. “What’s desperately needed are some people who will be advocates for Native Americans in your church,” Hutchcraft says.

If God is moving your heart for the Native American people, connect with RHM directly by visiting their profile page.

“I think [the first step is] just to wake up and go, [saying], ‘You know what, this is unacceptable. There is a brokenness and a gap in the Body of Christ that I’m sure is not acceptable to God, and for which I offer myself as part of the answer,'” says Hutchcraft.