Hollywood actor Stephen Baldwin, best known as the "Christian Baldwin brother," spoke to hundreds of Native American youth this past weekend as part of the Warrior Leadership Summit Conference being held in Roach, Miss.
His appearance was one of many activities scheduled for the annual conference being held from June 28 to July 3 that the many gathered teens will go through to be empowered to create change in their own communities back home.
"This summer we expect about 700 to 800 representing 65-70 nations," explained Ron Hutchcraft, founder of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, before the conference began last Thursday, according to Mission Network News (MNN). Hutchcraft's ministry sponsors the conference every year, and has grown its attendance to over 500 Native American and First Nations youth. "And out of that Warrior Leadership Summit they will be able to go back to their tribes – equipped and challenged and trained to be warriors for their people."
During Baldwin's talk, the actor-turned-ministry-leader expressed that life is a process of falling in love with God and being committed to Him will bring blessings to their lives.
Baldwin went on to encourage the youth that life is more than just material possessions. They can express this to others through their daily lives and showing the happiness that comes from following after God, he said, according to MNN, which reported on the event.
The former Hollywood star expressed this most clearly through his own conversion story. He explained how the nanny he hired for his first daughter had been praying for his family to come to know Christ and that even the nanny's family in Brazil was praying for the entire Baldwin clan as well.
The prayers worked and after five years, Baldwin, including his wife and daughter, had given their lives to Christ and are now running a ministry to reach youth across the United States.
The Warrior Leadership Conference is specifically focused on activities that can relate to Native American youth who are so saturated by their "toxic" environment. Hutchcraft feels that youth ministry is a desperate need among these youth around the country.
"[There's] a 40-percent dropout rate among Native American young people from school," explained Hutchraft to MNN. "[They have] the highest rates of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse and suicide on the continent. Obviously there is a desperate need, and yet this is an area where there's been almost no such thing as youth ministry."
Following the conference, the ministry leader hopes that the attending teens can be equipped to share their hope and love with their fellow friends at home.
Some youth will go directly back to their cities after the meetings, but for those that are interested, the ministry organizers are also offering "On Eagles Wings'" Summer of Hope 2007. Throughout July and August, two teams, one to Canada and another to United States, will travel to Native American villages to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
"They invite young people to come to sports events, contemporary Christian Music events, to food, and they run all the events and give the Gospel," reported Hutchcraft.
Conference planners have created a "Pray for Native Young People" kit to aid them in creating change through God.
The meetings have also provided an important time of fellowship for the participants as well as worship to help reenergize their spirits. Several of the youth who have attended do not have the opportunity for such large fellowship, including an Alaskan group who is from a town so small that they have to fly 400 miles to get to the nearest road.