Our volunteers …

  • have a spirit of adventure.
  • are sensitive to the fact that they are guests of the people who invite them into their community.
  • have a clear and positive commitment to Jesus Christ.
  • are willing to adapt God’s Word for Native cultures.
  • are able and willing to “rough it” without the normal comforts of home.

We have answered some of the more common questions about volunteering below, but we welcome your questions beyond that. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Rosemary Sternbeck or contact our main office.


We appreciate your interest in sharing your Christian witness and skills with the people we serve. Should your interest come to fruition, you may find yourself enjoying a firsthand experience serving our Native brothers and sisters in their own cultural settings!

Below are questions most frequently asked when people consider a short-term, cross-cultural mission event with Lutheran Indian Ministries.

Where Can I Serve?

Lutheran Indian Ministries serves in communities throughout Alaska, Hawaii, and in the Lower 48 states.

For more than 25 years, we have shared the Gospel with Native North American people. God’s grace compels us to help build the capacity of American Indians, Alaska Natives and First Nations people to impact their communities for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom.

Our volunteer ministry is two-fold: Vacation Bible School and Servant Events.

The vacation Bible school (VBS) program is comprised of teams of people who love Jesus and want to share their faith through teaching God’s Word to children.

Servant-event teams have the opportunity to repair, paint and construct or take part in other “building-type” projects.

Who do you serve in alaska?

The majority of Alaskan communities are Native – Inupiaq Eskimo, Athabascan, Haida, Tlingit – who have depended upon subsistence living for generations. Even today, many of the more remote communities rely on their surrounding natural resources. Alaska Natives may speak both their language and English.

Learn more about our Interior Alaskan Missions & Training Center by clicking here.

Who do you serve in Hawaii?

Our ministry in Hawaii is specific to Native Hawaiian people.

The Spirit of Aloha epitomizes the qualities of Jesus: kindness, unity, humility, and patience. And yet, suicide was the most common cause of fatal injuries among Hawaii residents over the 5-year period 2010-2014, accounting for over one-quarter (908, or 26%) of all fatal injuries, according to the state of Hawaii Department of Public Health.

It may be paradise, but people still need the love and hope that comes from Jesus Christ.

Who do you serve in the lower 48?

We serve the Makah, Lower Elwha and Quileute Tribes on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State; the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Agency reservations in Montana; the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico; the various tribes of South Dakota; the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska; the Oneida people of Northern Wisconsin; and Native university students through Haskell LIGHT Campus Ministry at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

Volunteer opportunities are not always available at each location, but we will be able to identify those that are for the time of service you request.

What do volunteers do?

Our volunteers teach vacation Bible school and serve on servant projects. We are careful to select volunteer candidates who have …

  • a clear and positive commitment to the Christian faith. an understanding of Christianity that exudes a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • a willingness to work with other Christian denominations. a willing to accept and understand another culture and adapt God’s Word to it.
  • an understanding they are guests of the land’s original inhabitants who have invited them to their community.
  • the ability to “rough it” without the comforts of urban living. a spirit of adventure.
We are committed through our volunteer program to strengthen existing ministries in the locations we serve. Therefore, teams are under the authority of community spiritual leaders. Candidates are expected to seek their advice and take direction from them.

How do I travel to Alaska?

You are responsible for travel to and from the ministry site where you will serve. Commercial airlines are available in Fairbanks, Alaska. Local carriers are available from Fairbanks into the community where you will serve. While you will need to plan in advance for your flight in and out of Fairbanks, it is not necessary to reserve a space on the commuter flight into the community you will serve until you arrive in Fairbanks. We will do our best to suggest the least expensive yet reliable commuter service for Alaska’s Interior.

When You Arrive in Fairbanks

Our Volunteer Center is available for lodging while you are in Fairbanks. Also, there are many hotel and lodging facilities that are reasonably priced and easily accessible from the airport. Another option is lodging at the dormitories at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks. Most can be contacted and reservations made over the Internet.

Please allow one-to-two full days in Fairbanks upon arrival before you leave for the community where you will serve and after you return to Fairbanks before your departure home. It’s important to remember that it can take a good part of the day to reach the community from Fairbanks. Inclement weather can cause a delay, ranging from a few hours to a day or two. Adaptability and flexibility take on a new meaning in the Last Frontier. Arriving a day or two early may be in everyone’s best interest and give you a chance to get acclimated and do some sightseeing.

How do I travel to locations in the lower 48 & Hawaii?

Your travel to any of our ministry sites is your responsibility, but depending on where you live airfare might not be needed. (Unless, of course, you are travelling to Hawaii. Then, you will need to purchase airfare and possibly a rental car.) Although remote, all of the reservations in the lower 48, where we serve, are accessible by car or van.

What should I expect when I arrive?

Typically, Native communities are small, varying in size from 50 to 2,000 people. The residents live in various size (but usually small) houses spread around in an un-surveyed “town-site.” Each community may be the hub of or one of several population centers of a reservation. Generally, all the people on a reservation belong to a single tribe with its own chief and community council.

The tribal council is the official government authority. It has the authority to invite people to come in as well as to leave the reservation. You should be aware that you are in the community because the tribal council has invited you through Lutheran Indian Ministries. They, in turn, have been in discussion with the local religious leaders who have recommended that volunteers be allowed to work in their community. Your presence there is essentially to strengthen the existing ministry. You are not necessarily bringing the Gospel to these people for the first time, though there may be some persons for whom this will be true. The work of the church in these communities goes faithfully onward. In most places, worship services are held every Sunday.

Where will I stay?

Our staff, together with the community leaders, will make arrangements for your accommodations. Housing will range from very spartan (no running water or indoor bathrooms) to very comfortable (running water and showers). Be prepared for either extreme, depending on what is available in the community at that time. We will be able to give you more specific information related to your assigned community as the time for your service approaches.

As for what to bring, a recommended checklist of items is available below. It is also be provided as part of your orientation.

How much will it cost?

Your financial obligations will be dependent upon your service assignment, i.e., VBS or Servant Event.

As previously noted, you will be responsible for the cost of transportation to and from the place where you will be serving. Your lodging en route, food consumed during your time of service, and supplies for VBS projects and selected Servant Events are all the responsibility of the volunteer.

This can become a sizeable amount, but many congregations or church groups sponsor individuals or teams as part of their mission outreach program. Some people or teams organize fundraising projects to cover their costs. You can also check with your local Thrivent representative about the possibility of receiving a matching grant.

What personal items should I bring?

Casual dress is in order. You’ll likely wear jeans and running shoes every day. Be prepared for rain or shine. A pair of low rubber boots and a nylon rain shell are appropriate. Evenings can be cool – a light jacket and sweater should be adequate. It’s good to dress in layers, then you can adapt as necessary.

Use a medium-sized soft suitcase or duffel bag for packing. DO NOT use a backpack with a frame.

Pack teaching materials in small boxes that are easy to carry for a distance. If you think you will need more teaching supplies than you can personally carry, arrangements can be made to send materials in advance. Please notify the staff well in advance of your travel date about these and other needs that may not be addressed here.

Alaska Volunteers:

Insects – mostly black flies and mosquitoes – will be a force to contend with, so you will need insect repellent. The most vulnerable areas are your arms, the back of your neck and your ankles. We suggest that you bring a hat to wear or a sweatshirt with a hood or a scarf for your head. It may be warm enough to wear shorts, but long pants and long sleeves will give you added protection.

Volunteer checklist

Clothing

Clothing should be mostly cotton with minimal clothing changes.
  • 2 pairs of blue jeans
  • 4 cotton shirts
  • Sweater or sweatshirt
  • 2 pairs of socks per day
  • Daily underwear change, plus one
  • Light rain jacket
  • Windbreaker or light jacket
  • Extra pair of walking shoes – only 2 pairs of shoes – no open-toed sandals or flip-flops. Shoes should not be brand new.
  • Scarf or hat
  • Light-weight gloves, bandana

Personal items

  • Toiletry articles
  • Simple basic first-aid kit
  • Prescription medication – enough for your entire stay
  • Flashlight
  • Space blanket (for warmth … takes up very little space)
  • Bug spray
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad (thermo rest or air mattress)
  • Pillow
  • No hard-sided luggage – soft duffel bag-type only. You are responsible for carrying what you bring.

Alaska Volunteers:

Any type of food should be freeze-dried or packaged dehydrated. Try to keep food products as light as possible. Due to weight restrictions on commuter planes, only minimal canned goods.


Ready to for an adventure?

If you’d like to volunteer with Lutheran Indian Ministries, there are just two steps for applying:

1) Fill out our Volunteer in Ministry Application. After you use the Submit button to send us your completed form, you will then be redirected to the background check authorization to complete the next and last step.

2) Click on following secure link to continue the Background Check Authorization. Your application will be considered complete only after we receive both the Volunteer in Ministry Application and the Background Check Authorization.

As a Lutheran ministry, we are committed to ensuring that the highest caliber of staff and volunteers lead our ministry within the communities we serve. Integrity with the people we serve is of paramount importance in a Christ-honoring ministry. Therefore, we require a National Criminal and Sex Offender Check on all staff and volunteers prior to their service.

All information secured in your volunteer application, including the background check, will be kept in the strictest confidence and will be used only for determining your volunteer service with Lutheran Indian Ministries. Information is not sold or shared with others except as may be required by law.

We want to thank you for desiring to serve and share the love of Christ with our Native communities.

For questions, email Volunteer Coordinator Rosemary Sternbeck or contact our main office.


Share Your Volunteer Experience With Us

If you recently served as a volunteer at one of our ministry locations through Interior Alaska Missions and Volunteer Center, please take a moment to share your experience with us.

Simply complete the evaluation form. Rosemary Sternbeck, volunteer coordinator for Lutheran Indian Ministries, will receive your information. If you asked specific questions or submitted information for follow-up care, we will take special note of it.

Thank you for your Christian outreach! May the Lord bless you.