Discipling Native American Youth to Be the LITE
Over the past year, we have heard a number of Native American pastors say they believe that “the last great spiritual awakening in North America will come from within the Native American communities.” We believe that in order to have this spiritual awakening, there must be leaders within the Native American church who will step up and be the light on the hill—a beacon of hope for their Native brothers and sisters. The struggle Native American churches have throughout the reservations is that there are too few leaders. Some Native pastors split their time on Sundays between two or three churches because there simply aren’t enough Native leaders. What can be done? We must raise up a generation of young Native leaders who will become the future of the church within Native American communities.
At Southwest Indian Ministries Center, we are working on a program to further develop the leadership skills we see in our Native American campers. The LITE (Leaders in Training Experience) program is designed for junior and senior high youth who come to our camps to learn more about becoming leaders within their families, churches, schools, and communities.
In January and May, we provide weekend workshops for LITE campers to come to SIMC and learn more about leadership. Each weekend, we teach leadership skills that are found in the Bible. As our LITE campers learn more about how to be godly leaders, we want them to have opportunities to practice being godly leaders.
This is where the discipling comes in. This is why we invite them to come back to our elementary weekend and summer camps as leaders and helpers. We give each LITE camper different roles of leadership and responsibilities. As our LITE campers gain experience and confidence in their leadership roles here at SIMC, we encourage them to find ways to practice their leadership skills in their home churches. We recognize the importance of working together with local churches to plug in our campers so they will continue to be discipled in faith and grow in leadership.
As our camp continues to grow in numbers and in maturity, we hope our LITE program will continue to develop Native American leaders who will be leaders at our camps and in their communities well after they graduate from our camp ministry program. We hope one day they will take over our roles at SIMC.
PRAY: Partner with Jon and Lindsay Birkey in prayer for the LITE campers. Pray that the LITE campers will grow to be the Native leaders that bring forth the next great spiritual awakening in North America.