Native American Leaders Equipped for Evangelism Ahead of Will Graham Celebration

By Ron Nickel   •   May 4, 2022

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) partnered with CHIEF (Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship) to hold their first-ever Native Peoples Christian Leaders Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota. [READ] The ‘Sleeping Giant’ Awakens: Native American Leaders Anticipate Revival
Will Graham welcomed Native Christian leaders at the free gathering, intended to encourage and equip them with the skills to lead their churches, organizations and other institutions in evangelism. 130 people from 14 states and two Canadian provinces came together for the conference. Of those, 24 tribes were represented alongside other attendees involved in Native American ministry.
Billy Graham once said that Native America is like a sleeping giant that's going to arise and be part of a national revival. Native American churches all across this country still refer to his comments, explained Huron Claus, president of CHIEF. “If we’re going to see the giant rise—if we’re going to see the Gospel impact our nations, our families, our tribal government—it involves leadership on all levels. Whether it be in the church or in our homes or in our communities, we have to realize that we are called by almighty God to lead as an example to those around us.”
Pastor Reynard Faber, honorary and traditional Chief for the Jicarilla Apache Tribe (right), emphasized the important work that Native Christian leaders have in front of them. "Evangelism has to come from the Native heart to reach Native Americans," said Faber. "We identify with each other … We speak their language, we speak their culture, we speak what they’re familiar with. It’s up to us. God has put a big opportunity in front of us."
Of the 9.7 million Native Peoples in the U.S., 73 percent live in cities, not on reservations.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will continue to minister to Native groups this summer. In June, a series of evangelistic basketball camps for young people will be held on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. In July, Will Graham will visit both reservations to proclaim the hope of Jesus during special one-day events.
“I’ve wept so many tears and cried so many times, like the prophet Jeremiah, weeping for my people,” said Minnesota resident Craig Smith, an evangelist to the Ojibwe tribe.
Praising God for His goodness during a time of worship.
Joshua Chavez (second from right), pastor of Revive Church in Long Beach, California, and his band led worship.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6
"We’re casting a vision today. We’re thinking ahead. We’re thinking how far can this go?" shared James Rattling Leaf Sr.
"I think we’ll look back at this time and think, wow, we got to be a part of that, because of what will happen, perhaps years from now," said Will Graham. "I believe we’re going to see Native people on fire for Christ, leading other Native people to Jesus, leading the last great revival. I don’t think it will be the preachers leading a revival, but the broken repenting and turning to Christ. I pray this is just the beginning."
Last September, Will Graham shared the Gospel at the Black Hills Paha Sapa Celebration in Rapid City, South Dakota. With a heart for Native Americans, the evangelist said, “We need your prayers. This ministry isn’t easy, but it’s eternally important. Thank you for standing alongside us as we share Christ’s hope, joy, peace and purpose with our Native brothers and sisters.”