Close Encounters

Tags: SEND North, Story

Did you know that it can take up to forty encounters with the truth before someone will change their world view?  These encounters can be a testimony, personal interactions with a loving believer, challenging facts, etc.  I wonder how many times you heard about God, Jesus, and the Good News before you accepted Christ.  Here again is a big challenge in ministering in remote Alaska and Northern Canada.  Because of the isolation, people in these communities receive little to no exposure to the Good News.  However, God is opening up creative ministry opportunities to encounter people.

Last week we mentioned one of those ways, summer camps.  Kids come for one or two weeks of camp, and they experience exponential spiritual growth.  When kids come to camp, they step out of their routine and enter a different culture (what is expected, valued, how do we behave).  This gives them the emotional space to breathe and think about what they want out of life. Summer camp is fertile soil for ministry, but it is not the only way God is creating encounters.

Thankfully there also are some communities which have a small Gospel witness.  It may be a lone believer, a team member doing ‘standard’ ministry, or maybe a school teacher who loves Jesus.  As we have said elsewhere, this is a hard environment to minister within, and these folks make an impact even if the harvest is slow to ripen.  People can be more closed off because there is fear of opening up with negative peer pressure. Even so, God is encountering people.  He is patient.

For the communities with no Gospel witness, we use our fleet of aircraft to visit neighboring villages throughout the year.  Maybe the visit is to get some spare parts, just to visit, to lead a Bible study, or to help out a friend.  The Bible camp pilots also make stops in villages for various reasons which give them opportunities to follow up with kids.  God is creative and even finds ways to bring crowds of people to us.

The school districts always have regional events for all 7th - 12th graders to participate in multiple events at once, like sports (volleyball, basketball, Native Olympic Games), academic meets (decathlon, science camp) and even Prom.  These events require a lot of help and Christians are stepping up to chaperone.  Churches or camps also can come in and host special events to give the kids something to do when they are not competing.  It is a safe place free of problems, which also shows the teens that church is full of people who love them.  An excellent example of this what Baxter Road Bible Church did in Anchorage.  They put on a youth game night after the close of the State Native Olympics Finales.  It was so well received that the Native Youth Olympic Committee wants them to do that every year.  Talk about an opportunity!

God is moving and bringing people together through these and many other avenues.  Join us in praying that close encounters with believers and the truth will lead people to their own, personal, close encounter with the One who longs to transform their lives.  If you are interested, here are a few other ways you can help!

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