No Ordinary River

Tags: Alaska, SEND North, Camps, Story, Testimonies

Have you ever stepped into a river so cold it numbed your toes? The chilly bite takes away your breath and startles you. Then, as you step back out of the river, it feels like new blood rushes into your feet, filling you with warmth once again. For many, the feeling is the same when they step into the River of Life.

On June 11, 2017, in a frigid, Alaskan river, Jackson* took one such step. Jackson is from a very remote village in Western Alaska, and I met him at Bible camp. His face seemed hardened from years of tough village life, extreme weather, and responsibility within his family. He maintained a docile, simple, and good-humored personality throughout camp, always supporting his counselors and focusing intently on the message. The other campers respected him, and he could often be found teaching them a game or goofing off with them.

One night, after the Gospel was presented, Jackson hung back while the other campers went out for the evening game. It was the next day that we found out Jackson had made the decision to be baptized.

The entire camp and many community members walked down to the river with him, the same river that many of his friends had been baptized in after deciding to follow Christ. In fact, the man baptizing him had been save about 30 years prior at the same camp and baptized in the same river. Jackson shared before the baptism that he was looking forward to having out with the old and in with the new, referring to Ephesians 4:22-24.

The river felt icy and numbed Jackson and the men that joined him in the river. When Jackson arose after his submersion, he did not react to the cold but instead beamed as he felt the new blood rush back into his cheeks and toes, a symbol reflecting the thaw of a chilled heart now pumping with new blood, the saving blood of Christ.

Pray with me for Jackson, that he will grow into a wise and sought-after leader in his community, as an example in righteousness, humility, and hard work. Pray that Jackson will only be one saved among many to come. And pray too for that river, that it may continue to run, overflowing with new lives eager to publicly display their devotion to Christ.  -Kelly Quist

 *not his real name