Dear Friends in Christ,
For more than a decade, mission teams have traveled in and out of Alaska's remote villages, teaching Vacation Bible School and forming strong relationships with the children of these villages. These dedicated volunteers returned year after year and watched four-year-olds become 18-year-olds who struggled with the stresses of village life as they neared adulthood.
Seeing the hardships these teens faced, they began praying and felt led by the Holy Spirit to take Vacation Bible School one step further, thus the idea of Teen Camp was born.
For three years now, Lutheran Indian Ministries has sponsored Teen Camp, enabling Native youth, between the ages of 14 and 18, to come to Fairbanks for a week of Christian fellowship and growth.
Our mission at LIM is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Native American peoples, to disciple Native leaders to share the Gospel with their brothers and sisters, and to provide resources for the healing of intergenerational pain, sorrow, and suffering in a way that honors Native cultures. This is the work we are dedicated to in Alaska, and this is precisely what happens at Teen Camp.
In addition to the activities typically offered at camp, like swimming and crafts, we also use our time together to introduce and familiarize the campers to a big city. Many of the seniors are anxious about leaving their villages to attend college or a trade school, so we allow them to shop and explore the city. We, then, bring them to our house for a meal, games, and Bible Study. This allows the teens to know us on a personal level and provides a resource for them in Fairbanks should they end up moving here.
For the first two years, we held the camp at our home, the Mission Center, but last year, with 23 Native youth, we rented Camp Bingle at Harding Lake to better accommodate the group. This year, we anticipate about 30 teenagers, coming from Deering, Ambler, Kiana, Shungnak, Kobuk, and Arctic Village. Most of these trips will be charter flights through Mission Aviation Repair Center who has offered us a generous scholarship of $6,000, which still leaves our costs for the flights at $15,000.
We are seeing God work in the lives of these teens. During two years of building relationships and teaching the true Gospel, twelve teens have been baptized, proclaiming their faith in Jesus and becoming part of the body of Christ!
In the ancient church, the weeks leading up to Easter were a time of preparation for those who were to be baptized with the Easter vigil on Holy Saturday. So, it is seems especially fitting, during this time of reflection and soul searching, that we ask for your help.
This Lenten season, we ask you to prayerfully consider supporting this year's Teen Camp with a portion of your Wednesday offerings.
Thank you and God Bless you!
Rev. David (Nuu-chah-nulth) and Rosemary Sternbeck