When most people think of cross-cultural missions, they think of China, India, or the remote jungles of the Amazon. However, what if I told you that there is a state in the United States that is not only cross-cultural but also a mission field? This state . . .
- Has the lowest number of church-attending residents,
- Has consistently been noted as having one of the most diverse populations, and
- Has one of the highest poverty levels.
God had a plan . . . taking us to Alaska!
A week ago, I had the privilege of joining and leading a group of 28 high school students and six adults to the Last Frontier - Alaska! We partnered with a ministry named Grace Works Alaska, which has been ministering to the communities in and around Anchorage, Alaska for over 18 years.
As we boarded the five-hour flight early Sunday morning, there were plenty of conversations centering around seeing moose or bears and the fact that the sun would be up for approximately 20 hours each day. Little did our team know that the plan God had for us would make any moose sightings or cultural oddities a secondary experience to the powerful relationships we would build.
We built relationships and shared the hope of Jesus.
Joining two other churches that had traveled from Florida and Georgia, our students were broken into teams for the week and assigned various parks throughout the city. While at the parks each afternoon, we built relationships with local kids through games, sports, and crafts. Then, we presented a full Bible Club experience. We also provided free lunches, as many kids were in the free school lunch programs during the school year but had nothing to eat during the summer. Jeremiah 33:3 was the theme verse for the week:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known (Jeremiah 33:3).
While the kids memorized this verse through the help of motions, the parents and adults at the park got to hear the truth of the verse while the kids recited it at the top of their lungs.
There are so many stories to tell.
While tired from travel and mission work, our students pushed forward as God planned. Through the relationships built, one of our students led an eight-year-old boy to Christ after he started asking questions about Heaven, Hell, and other “gods.” After telling the boy about Christ and the love he showed through dying on the cross and rising from the grave, the boy prayed to receive Christ and proceeded to run around the park, letting everyone know that Jesus now lived inside of him.
Another victory we experienced was when one of our leaders was able to lead a 42-year-old woman to Christ after she had overheard the Bible Club in the park and had questions.
While we specifically went to Alaska with the young kids in mind, God had a plan for this woman to encounter the gospel that day too.
The memories will last a lifetime!
After wrapping up our time with the kids, we were able to spend some time in the majesty of God’s creation as we visited Portage Glacier and hiked to a snow-covered avalanche field for some fun. It was so hard to say goodbye to the kids on our final days, but we know that the memories will last a lifetime.
So, although we may not have had to sneak Bibles into a communist country or hack our way through a jungle to get to a remote village, we were able to see God work through our Berean students in a beautiful cross-cultural setting. To God be the glory!