by Del Tackett


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Heroes in the Alaskan Bush

I’m in the heart of Alaska in a cabin nestled in the Talkeetna Mountains.

They are majestic. But the real inspiration comes from the people I have the privilege to be with this week… the missionary families who live in the bush villages of Alaska.

They not only face the harshness of the winters and the darkness when the sun barely rises during the day, if at all, but they face the challenges of the bush village, where alcohol, drugs, abuse and suicide devastate the people they love. Often, tribalism and some justified skepticism toward the “white man” have created a wall that is sometimes impenetrable, leaving the missionary family in isolation.

Arctic Barnabas exists to provide spiritual and physical support to these dear folks throughout the year, and in the fall brings them together for a week of rest and renewal (a great ministry you should consider supporting).

This is the second time I’ve had the opportunity to be with them and, again, wondering what in the world I have to offer these heroes of the faith. Personally, I really have nothing, but we are taking tours gazing upon the face of God and the “Crown Jewel” in His nature, refreshing ourselves with the criticality of divine relationships and how they are rooted in the social complexity of our Triune God.

Every session ends with a time of testimony and sharing from the missionary families. Each brought tears as we heard of the trials, the heartaches and the miracles where God had showed Himself mighty in a time of great need.

If you have a moment, please pray for them as they now head back to their villages. For some, it will take days, in bush planes and ferries, to get back to the reality of their call.

This was for their rest and renewal, but it always renews something in me. It reminds me to diligently pray for those who have been called to the hard places in the world. It reminds me of how much we need each other as we walk this road. And it reminds me of how much the enemy seeks to isolate us and destroy the relationships that God has designed.

In the bush, families are kept as an outsider, making it difficult to form relationships. But for the rest of us, it is plain self-centeredness that destroys relationships as we seek to satisfy our own desires. True, deep relationships require sacrifice and self-sacrifice is growing scarce in our culture.

And, of course, the smartphone sucks us deeper and deeper into the isolation of its screen. We “contact” others while we grow increasingly lonely. This will eventually lead to the demise of our culture.

The bush missionary families have a tough life, but I can tell you that their families are fully intact.  In this way, although they lack most of the physical niceties that we enjoy, they are more healthy spiritually and physically. Would that we might “disconnect” from the entertainment and smartphone vortex consuming us and reconnect with our families and with each other.

The Lord wants us in deep relationships; the enemy wants us atomized.

The former brings blessings and life; the latter, curses and death.

Choose you this day…

 

 

Comments

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  • Matt Dooley

    Del, I would say that your presence and caring enough to spend time with them was a tremendous blessing for them. As you point out, we were created for relationships, with Him and with each other. I am sure that making the effort to develop a relationship with them was a big encouragement to them. We recently had a conference for our missionaries here in Papua New Guinea. One of the interesting things several missionaries noted was the young people leaving their tribes to go to the bigger towns and cities. As one missionary put it when they go to the University of “Sodom and Gomorrah” many are losing their faith. This sounds very familiar with what is happening in our home churches and in Alaska. Before I came to PNG I took the Truth Project as well as later led a small group with it. I am convinced that it is very important to share the fallacies of the non-biblical worldviews as well as present a case that it often takes more “faith” to believe the lies of the world than the bible and you are not ignorant if you believe in biblical principles. I find it interesting that Satan is using the same playbook in these remote locations as he is in our “civilized” world. Most of the people here in PNG live in grass huts with no running water and no electricity, yet many have cell phones. Through those phones they will be bombarded with Satan’s lies. I imagine that it is the same in remote Alaska. The missionaries serving in Alaska truly are heroes, in addition to serving far from home with remote people they also have to face a harsh climate. I am sure that this makes their ministry all the more difficult. Praise God for their dedication to spreading his word.
  • Del Tackett

    Matt, thanks for your comments. We certainly find ourselves in a fierce battle. Thank you for your work in PNG. Blessings! dt

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