More thoughts after Alaska

I have had so many thoughts swirling around in my head (I know, what is new?) and I haven’t quite known how to put some of it into words. But, I want to try. I also want to say from the start that I do hope and pray none of what I’mfeeling makes anyone else feel less. It is not my intention to make anyone feel badly…these are just things the Lord is laying on my heart. I have wanted to get these feelings out there because I want to hear from others…am I off base? Do you agree? Disagree?

Over the past year, David and I have both sensed the Lord nudging us to come out of our comfort zones. We have been feeling convicted of living too comfortably, in a lot of ways. I think part of these convictions led us to go on this mission trip to Alaska. We felt like the Lord dropped it into our laps and said…GO.

Now that we are back, the feelings are even stronger…the feelings of having the “easy life” as a Christian. I don’t mean that life is easy…you all know how I have struggled over the past 2 years with simply being a mom and wife! But, our lives as Christians here in the Bible belt are significantly “easier” to live. Meaning, we don’t have doors shutting in our faces…quite as often anyway! We don’t have people rudely answering NO when we mention that we are having VBS at church. In fact, generally speaking, we can speak about Jesus to our friends and neighbors without too much negativity. (Note, this is not to say that they are all Christians by any means! But that “religion” is very accepted and “ok” here.)

On the other hand, in Alaska, 95% of the population is lost. Not only that, but they don’t attend church either. In the Bible belt you may have a pretty good percentage of lost people, but I’m willing to bet that of those lost people, at least half of them attend church at some point.

Another aspect to the “easy life” is the amount of people we have. I struggled with feeling guilty and spoiled coming back to my big church in TN. I look across the sanctuary and see ten, twenty if not more men there that could at anytime get up and preach a message or give the gospel presentation from the pulpit. In Alaska the state missionaries have a list of villages with NO CHURCHES…a list of churches with NO STAFF…a list of places that want churches with NO WILLING PEOPLE. And folks, this list is rather long.

I looked around our sanctuary and saw how blessed we are with talent. (I notice the music because that is my gifting.) We have a choir and band made up of instrumentalists, back-up instrumentalists, instrumentalist who don’t want to play every week, vocalists, praise band rotations, the list goes on. In Alaska, one of the churches we ministered to had been without anyone to help with music in a year, I think.

These are just 2 examples. The list goes on.

My struggle is this…why are so many of us HERE where it is comfortable, easy and we aren’t “needed” when the need around the world is staggering. Why are we sitting on the pew hoping they won’t call us for nursery duty, when children around the world don’t have anyone to share with them the love of Jesus? Why are we showing up late to church on Sundays hoping they won’t ask us to usher when in other parts of the world they are struggling to keep the church doors open? Why are we sitting in our comfortable pews being spoon fed each and every week when fellow brothers and sisters around the world don’t even have Bibles to read of their own?

(press pause on the music on the sidebar before you listen to this song.)

Since coming home from Alaska

I wonder…

Do the boys at the orphanage know the love of Jesus?

Do the boys at the orphanage know that we truly love them.?

Will the Lord send someone (soon) to walk alongside these boys and disciple and encourage them?

Were the seeds firmly planted in the children at VBS?

Who will help water them?

Do the pastors of the 2 churches we were at know we are praying for them?

Will God open more hearts in Alaska?

Will He send more of His people into the darkness? Soon?

Will the outermost villages ever see the Light of Christ fill their villages?

Will the suicide rate go down before Jesus comes back?

Will the LIGHT overtake the DARKNESS that is there?

Did those we came into contact with see Jesus in us?

Did Mark, Ricky, and Barry from the food bank hear the love of Jesus in our words?

Who will go?

The Lord is my LIGHT and my SALVATION…whom shall I fear?

Psalm 27:1

Alaska – the wedding!

Yes, you read that correctly! 2 of our very dearest friends and members of our team got MARRIED right beside a glacier bay in Alaska on Saturday! DJ and Rebecca have been waiting on the Lord to tell them when the time was right. They didn’t plan to do it this way, but once we were here, it just seemed so right. They told David and I, but to everyone else (including Rebecca’s mother who was with us on this trip!) it was a HUGE surprise!

Saturday was our last full day in Alaska with the Arkansas team. Scott had planned for us to go site-seeing and shopping. We went to Portage Valley to a BEAUTIFUL location to take pictures and look around. While there, Scott said, “hey, everyone, come over here!” Next thing you know, he had out his Bible, DJ and Rebecca read their own vows, they exchanged rings (that we had gone to help them buy earlier in the week one evening!) and Scott pronounced them man and wife! It was VERY exciting!

Alaska has become a very special place to DJ and Rebecca…as they are praying about and probably moving to Alaska to be full time missionaries sometime within the next year. With all the beautiful surroundings, and the special place that Alaska has in their hearts, they decided to go for it while we were there! It could not have been more perfect for them!

Congratulations to DJ and Rebecca! We feel blessed to call you FRIENDS.

Alaska – VBS

During our time in Alaska, one of our main “jobs” was to have a VBS for the children of Muldoon Road Baptist Church and University Baptist Church. We just fell in love with the people of these 2 churches! Our hearts were also broken for the struggles they are facing. We were blessed to be able to attend services at both churches, and both churches have their own set of struggles. One church has had multiple staffing issues, being without a pastor for long periods of time. One of the churches was the largest growing Baptist church in the NATION at some point in the last 15-20 years, however now they have around 50 people in attendance on Sundays.

Doing a winter VBS was something new for the missions director here, Scott Kirby. So, it was new for the church too. We did not know what to expect! But, we ended up with about 30-40 children coming each day. And we had so much fun with them!

The other church that teamed with us on this trip was from Arkansas. They brought a phenomenol clown ministry with them. Each day the clowns would do fun songs and do skits that had a spiritual point to it somehow. They also did balloon animals for the kids each day after VBS was over. We also had several ladies doing face painting each day. The kids just loved this!

As you may remember, my job was leading music time. You may also remember that I felt like I didn’t have time to prepare! God answered my prayers above and beyond what I thought would happen. The Lord provided a little bit of time for me to learn 2 songs from the VBS curriculum that the Arkansas team brought. They also had a dvd that I watched 2 days before VBS started to learn all the motions to the songs. Another blessing was that the clowns were with me during music! So, they were able to do the fun songs at the beginning and that was a huge blessing!

Here are some pictures from our week with VBS.

Alaska – Baptist Boys Home

One of the biggest blessings and highlights from our time in Alaska was spending time with the Baptist Boys Home. There are 10 teenage boys in this home right now. They are all there for different reasons. They may have been in trouble for various reasons, but there are others who were taken from their homes due to abuse.

This is the place that broke our hearts the most, gave us the most joy and that gives us so much to be praying about! We just love these boys!

The first day we went to spend time with them, they were very unresponsive. Not many of them talked to us at all. The second day we could tell a big difference. And by the end of the week, the boys were coming up to each of us and asking for hugs. I found myself wondering when they had a hug last. By the end of the week, we had several boys who made decisions for Christ. They all raised their hands (several with tears in their eyes) saying they wanted a change in their lives.

The last night we spent with them, we gave them each a teenage Bible with devotions in it as well as a survival kit from Lifeway. This is a book that goes through the basics of being a Christian. That is one of our biggest prayer concerns – leaving these boys so open to the Lord’s work – and hoping, praying that someone will come alongside them and encourage them and disciple them.

The last night we left we also learned that one of the boys would likely be headed to prison in the next few days. These boys need our prayers…please be praying with us!