"Those who say they live in God
should live their lives as Jesus did.”
1 John 2:6 (NLT)
At first, I thought that he was kidding. But it was no joke, our lives were in danger.
Last year shortly after Thanksgiving, I traveled to our Mission Training Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. The highlight of the trip was a planned visit to Arctic Village, one of the most remote villages we serve, accessible only by plane.
I had heard tales of the frigid weather, but winter in Alaska must be experienced to be believed. It’s absurdly cold and almost constantly dark, yet remarkably beautiful. Snow frosts everything, stars sparkle in the sky like a million diamonds, and the Aurora Borealis puts on a colorful light show unlike anything I have ever seen before - truly the artwork of the Creator!
On the day we were to travel to Arctic Village, we bundled up and arrived at the airport early in the morning, though without the rising sun, it could just as well have been the middle of the night. The pilot readied the plane, and we loaded our supplies. We were bringing food for the body and the soul to our Native hosts.
Halfway into the flight, Dave Sternbeck, our missionary-at-large in Fairbanks, turned around in the co-pilot’s chair to tell me the pilot was having engine trouble. We would need to turn back. Thinking he was kidding, I chuckled and returned to the view outside my window, mesmerized by the beauty of the dusky and deserted landscape below.
After a few more minutes Dave tapped me on the shoulder and said, with an urgent voice, “We are in trouble. We are turning around, now. We do not want to go down halfway between Fairbanks and Arctic Village at this time of year!”
I felt the plane bank to the right and wondered: Is there a good time of year to be stranded on the Alaskan tundra?
Without any problems, we landed in Fairbanks. We were safe, but our trip was uncompleted.
Walking the streets later that day, I was filled with disappointment. The sights and sounds of Christmas were everywhere, but my mind was on our missed opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to make the Christmas story real to the Alaska Native people in Arctic Village.
And it got me thinking...
What if Jesus had not completed His mission?
What if Jesus had said, “This is trouble. I’m going to be beaten and die. I should just turn back and forget about this, for my own well-being.”
Praise God that nothing was going to stop Jesus from fulfilling His mission.
He came. He lived. He died. And He rose again. He ascended into heaven. His mission on earth was accomplished. We are saved!
Jesus, God’s gift to all people, fulfilled his plans, but God’s mission on earth is not finished!
Lutheran Indian Ministries staff, like Dave and Rosemary Sternbeck, join Jesus on His mission every day to proclaim the Good News and disciple Native people who do not yet know of salvation through Jesus Christ. Our trip to Arctic Circle didn’t go as planned, but it was just a small piece of what we do in Alaska to fulfill His mission. God has much more in store for His Native peoples, and He isn’t hindered by engine trouble.
Because of your faithful and generous gifts to Lutheran Indian Ministries, our team travels to remote and sometimes scary places, occasionally risking their own safety, to bring the story of Jesus to Native peoples. Every step we take brings those Native communities closer to the peace and joy that comes from our Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus completed his mission, and now we are called to continue in his footsteps with the work He has set before us.
With your support, we proclaim Christ the crucified, disciple our Native brothers and sisters, and teach them to disciple their own people.
That is what Jesus did in His ministry. That is what we continue to do, with the help of the Holy Spirit. And just as Jesus relied upon believers of his day to support Him, we rely on you.
In this season of giving, we are so grateful for your passion for Native ministry and your commitment to this important work. We are thankful that you continue to walk with us on His mission to reach our Native brothers and sisters with the hope of Christ. We take you with us into every village and chapter, onto the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University, and to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. We take you to the molten lava fields of Hawaii and together we proclaim the Good News to Native men, women, and children.
We give glory to God for His Son, Jesus, and we thank you for encouraging us to fulfill His mission for Native peoples with your generous donations and prayers!
May God bless you and keep you in this season of hope and celebration!
Tim Young Eagle (Pawnee)
Lutheran Indian Ministries
P.S. Arctic Village is just one of the many places we reach each December to share the joy of Jesus’ birth.
The villagers enjoy the stories, gifts, and fellowship we provide, but many villages are not so lucky. There are more Native people who need to hear Jesus’ story!
Ministry opportunities abound, and your gift gives the opportunity to reach those who do not yet know this joy!
Please consider a year-end gift today and your gift will be doubled thanks to a generous matching gift from our board of directors!
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