USA (MNN) — When November rolls around, thoughts in the U.S. usually turn to the Thanksgiving holiday, lots of food, and football. But, it’s also Native American Heritage Month.
As families gather around a turkey tomorrow, Native Americans are probably far from their minds. Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries explains why the November observance holds meaning.
“It’s very significant that we be honoring Native Americans…as an incredibly important part of our history,” says Hutchcraft. “We’ve all seen the pictures of the first Thanksgiving, with the Indians around the table, with the pilgrims.
“Here in this month when–at least on a calendar–Native Americans are remembered, this would be a wonderful time for God’s people to say, ‘I need to open my heart, and I need to add to my prayers the First People of this continent.'”
Hutchcraft says Native Americans played a vital role in the founding of the United States.
“You’ve got story after story of the contribution of Native Americans to our history,” he states. Hutchcraft points to Squanto and Sacajawea as examples.
Historians know little about Squanto’s life, but he is best known as an interpreter and guide for the Pilgrim settlers. Squanto acted as a liaison between the United States’ first settlers and the Wampanoag tribe in modern-day Massachusetts. He held a seat at the very first Thanksgiving table.
The daughter of a Shoshone chief, Sacajawea played an irreplaceable role during the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 1800s. She was the only woman to help the explorers find a route to the Pacific Ocean and acted as the group’s interpreter.
“They met 50 Indian tribes for the first time of contact; she was the bridge,” Hutchcraft explains. “Sacajawea’s name is on more public things in America than the name of any other woman.”
Today, Native American youth are becoming a “modern-day bridge” to their people through the ministry of On Eagles’ Wings (OEW). It’s a peer-to-peer evangelism ministry that equips and mobilizes Native youth to share the Gospel with their age group.
“They are the ones who are bringing the message that John Elliot brought 400 years ago–and subsequent missionaries since then,” says Hutchcraft.
Sports, Christian music, and personal stories of hope give Native young people throughout North America an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. OEW teams tour the U.S. and Canada during the “Summer of Hope.”
Throughout the year, OEW youth are mentored, discipled, and trained. There are several ways you can help them bring the Gospel to Native America.
“We’re about to have a conference to help the On Eagles’ Wings team members be discipled and strengthened–and to learn Christian leadership–right after Christmas,” notes Hutchcraft.
“There might even be somebody (in MNN’s audience) who, as part of their year-end stewardship, would want to contribute to help these warriors become strong leaders for Christ in this generation.”
Here are some specific ways you can help. Above all else, please cover OEW teams throughout the nation in prayer.
“Please pray for the spiritual protection of these young warriors of the On Eagles’ Wings team,” requests Hutchcraft. “They have invaded the darkness; the enemy is extremely angry about it.
“I’ve never seen such a concentrated attack on any group of people in my life as I have seen on these Native American young people.”