|by Dana Williamson (Baptist Press)||Return to Articles|
Henry Blackaby says the prayer he has prayed for 60 years has been heard.
Blackaby, author of the “Experiencing God” discipleship resources, said he has been committed to praying that God would bring a moving of the Spirit upon Indian people.
Comparing the answer to his prayer with that of Zachariah in Luke 1, Blackaby noted that Zachariah and Elizabeth were well-advanced in years when God heard their cry for a child.
“How long had they been praying when Gabriel came to them and told them ‘Your prayers have been heard’?” Blackaby asked. “Just as God came to Zachariah, He came to me and said my prayers had been heard.”
Blackaby said in the midst of his reading of Luke 1, he told God the one thing he has been praying for 60 years is for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God and revival on the native Indian people on their reserves, in the cities, in their families, among their young people and children.
“I don’t know what you do when God sends word that your prayers of 60 years have been heard,” he noted. “I began to weep, rejoice and say, ‘How do I know?’”
Before the week was out, Blackaby said, a man came to him and told him the Christian leadership of the American Indians knows his heartcry for revival and spiritual awakening among their people, and he was sent to ask if Blackaby would be willing to spend three or four days with the leadership of their people and help them understand revival and spiritual awakening.
“I come here tonight with the fullness of God’s assurance that revival among the native people of America is coming,” Blackaby told the conference.
Blackaby then talked about prayer and asked if they had been praying with passion and a broken heart for God to move mightily among the Native American people.
“Does God know your track record, and does heaven see the set of your heart that you will not be denied and that you have prayed for years that God will do a mighty work?” he asked. “Who do you suppose is going to rejoice the most when revival comes?”
Blackaby said when God’s people pray, it gives an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to a lost world.
“If you want the native people who are still lost to have an encounter with God, be a people of prayer and stay there until God acts on your behalf, so people can see the nature of the God you serve,” he exhorted. “In us is all the presence and power of God to transform a community. Don’t ever pray unless you expect God to answer.”
Blackaby said one of the moments that turned his life upside down was when he was speaking to a group of African Americans in Los Angeles and noticed Indian missionary Jimmy Anderson in the crowd.
“Jimmy said he had come to find me because he was hearing there is suicide among 4-year-olds on the reservation. Everything in me turned upside down,” Blackaby said. “I’ve never been the same since. I’ve prayed for the power of God to transform that whole system. The enemy cannot and must not have his way with the children, youth and adults on the Indian reserves.”
Blackaby added that the powerful presence of God among Native Americans waits on the repentance of God’s people.
“There is nothing I know of about the native Indian people of America that the grace of God has not already put in place,” he said.
Russell Begaye, manager of the multi-ethnic unit of the North American Mission Board, speaking on confessions, said perhaps the reason the Spirit of God hasn’t moved mightily among Native Americans is because “we don’t want to confess.”
“We are survivors,” he explained. “The whole topic of confession for Native Americans is one of the hardest things for us to do. We are a proud people, and we’ve fought inch by inch. Native people are ordained and called by God. Let us bring our sins before the Lord. It’s time for us as native people to let ourselves go. Our churches are dying, splitting up because we are not willing to confess.”
Mark Custalow, who for the last six years has been national church planting coordinator for Southern Baptist church planting efforts among Native Americans, said the Indian population in North America has grown by 1 million in the last 20 years to 5.5 million with 562 nationally recognized tribes.
“Native Americans have been the recipients of more than 500 years of evangelization efforts,” Custalow reported. “Yet 90 percent are still without a relationship with Jesus.
Custalow said not all the evangelistic work matched where Native Americans were, and still many refer to Christianity as the white man’s religion and Jesus as the white man’s god.
“Christianity is not growing in relation to the population of North America, yet God is working around the world reducing lostness of people,” Custalow noted. “Why isn’t that happening in North America? I believe it’s because we as native people need a spiritual awakening.”
Custalow added that because Native Americans are host people to this land, “God has made us a spiritual people so we can be recipients of spiritual awakening.”
“I don’t know of any people God has positioned more to be a pouring out of His Spirit,” Custalow said.
Custalow said he believes God has made the native people spiritual people, in tune with the things of God and a gateway for spiritual awakening.
“But there is also spiritual warfare in our native communities,” he cautioned. “And there is a reason for that. Satan is going against our people so strong because God is touching our nation.”
Alaska missionary Mike Proctor told the gathering that there are 70,000 natives and 11 people groups in Alaska.
“People are spread among 200 villages, and 50 of those villages have no church of any kind,” he said. “Others need an evangelical witness because 95-97 percent of the people are unchurched.”