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.
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!
2 of the mornings we were in Alaska we spent at the Food Bank of Alaska in Anchorage.
This is a very large warehouse that services lots of food pantries and other organizations all throughout Alaska. We truly enjoyed our time here! We had a wonderful lady, Mariko, who told us all about Alaska hunger problems…how most of them are children and elderly. She gave us a tour of the food warehouse, which again, is huge. Their freezer is bigger than our house I believe!
While we were at the food bank, there were also several other people we got to meet there. Prayerfully, the love of Jesus shone through our actions and words. Most of the other “volunteers” there with us were people who were serving time doing community service and were just out of jail or in a halfway house. We were blessed to work alongside these people!
We sorted food, stacked cans, cleaned up areas, looked through clothing donations and bagged potatoes. But, hopefully, we did more than that! Hopefully we planted seeds, encouraged, and enabled the food bank to get a little more food out to the hungry of Alaska. They have so many wonderful donations! But someone has to be there to go through each piece, can, box or bag of food.
Today David was able to go with some of our team to help with the mushers…a dog sledding team here called Jonrowe Kennel. This apparently is a pretty famous place that we were priveleged to be a part of today! They had a lot of fun! And they did a lot of hard work today!
We also had our first official day of VBS, it was a wonderful and busy day! Please be in prayer. So many people turn away from anything spiritual in this area, it is so easy for us to see after only having been here a few days. But, we are so thankful for the children we were able to minister to today. We had a lot of fun! The other part of our team that came from Arkansas has a really phenomenal clown ministry…needless to say, the kids LOVE the clowns!
I have been leading the music portion of our VBS, and we are having a lot of fun – with smaller children AND the teenagers – learning new songs and doing fun dances with them.
Tonight we had several of the leaders from Alaskan mission organizations come and speak to us. It was a very interesting night! Here are some things we learned about Alaska from these leaders.
*In Alaska, 95% of the people are lost
*In a survey taken from the newspaper, 22, 000 out of 300,000 Alaskans in the city of Anchorage attend worship on any kind of regular basis at all. However, this also included other denominations that we would not consider Christian.
*In distant villages (the bush) they still have animal worship
*One of the biggest needs in Alaska is Christian leadership
*Alaska is the nation’s leader in suicide
*the incest rate is also very high here especially in the outlying villages. Young girls are raped by brothers and fathers at the onset of puberty. Close to 100% of women that come out of these villages have been raped and/or affected by incest in some way
*the LIE: this is the way life is in the village, deal with it.
*the other big issues here: teen pregnancy, STD’s and alcoholism
*100 villages in Alaska have no Christian work or ministry at all
These statistics are sobering. Please be in prayer with me that the true LIGHT would be brought into the darkness of Alaska.