ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: 40 YEARS BELOW ZERO, Part 27
June 3, 2016
Greetings, Salutations and Blessings! There's lots more to tell, so let's get right to it!
The fox-trapping, the treating of the pelts, the preparation of the furs prior to their sale at the Seattle Fur Exchange was an arduous endeavor, but the returns were nothing short of spectacular. Dad and I had trapped a total of 208 arctic blue foxes, not counting a number of white foxes, and some red foxes that had somehow made their way over the ice to the island from the mainland during a severe winter when the sea ice froze. (They were not native to the island at all.)
1977 turned out to be a banner year for fox pelts and Dad's methods of cleaning, tanning and prepping the pelts caused them to be exceptionally nice and sought after by fur buyers. He received an average of $53 per pelt. It netted more than $10,000. Dad saw the benefit of the Christian television programming for the remote communities in Alaska and felt that those funds should go into our beginning of bringing the 700 Club and other Christian programming into the Alaskan bush.
Barrow was the next place to bring Christian programming. I left Saint Paul in the Spring of 1977 to go to Anchorage. In the summer of that year I met the VP and Media Director for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. He asked if I would be willing to move to Barrow (silly question!) and spearhead the television and media operations for the regional corporation. Barrow did not yet have television, but there was serious discussion about creating a cable system for the community. The regional corporation wanted television studios built so they could create commercials that could be used statewide and nationwide to promote the various entities the corporation had created.
ASRC had, in the very few years of its existence, already created a global construction company, and had invested heavily in the oil infrastructure of the state. Thus, the need for being able to create their own television commercials to advertise and expand their abilities, both nationwide and globally. I wasn't sure how the Lord was going to orchestrate my involvement in the building of these studios into bringing television in general to Barrow, but the city's desire for a cable system was a natural outgrowth.
By the summer of 1978, the building of a cable television system became a reality. Satellite television was still more than a year away, but just as had been done at Saint Paul Island, we were able to set up a series of commercial video machines so that we could bring in the same video tapes from Anchorage for daily television, and it was ready-made for the same video-tapes Scott Hessek was providing me from Virginia Beach.
As is often the case, when you have the first beginnings of television in communities where television has never existed, our efforts were a bit hokey, and we often missed time lines for programs because of mechanical glitches and human error. Nevertheless, the 700 Club, along with Kenneth Copeland's program became some of the very first programs to begin airing in Barrow. It paid dividends spiritually. The additional spiritual input into the community began to produce growth among those who saw, listened and heard with their spirits as well as their ears.
I won't go into any depths in this series to talk about the gradual expansion of CBN and the 700 Club throughout the remote communities -- that's for a different time -- but let me share just a couple of anecdotes.
In November of 1979, we finished construction of a ten-meter (40-foot) satellite dish that would bring in satellite programming and eliminate our kluged-up video-tape process for airing programs. When the satellite was plugged into the ever-expanding cable system, the very first television program to air was the 700 Club.
It became a ready-made opportunity for us to begin duplicating and generating multiple video-tapes on a daily basis that could go to different communities at the same time and reduce the lag time begin live airing and the time that the communities could see the programs. In the meantime, I had traveled to many villages and set up tiny transmitters, broadcast antennas and video-tape machines similar to what we started with at Saint Paul Island.
In 1981, with the assistance of Lyn Barnes (who was Director of National Ministries at CBN) we were able to move our CBN operations to Fairbanks and be much more centrally located for serving the growing and expanding network of tiny stations throughout the arctic and central Alaska.
We received a report from one of the villages on the Kuskokwim River where the video tapes were being played in a community center (they did not yet have a TV transmitter, but had requested that we go ahead and send the 700 Club tapes). It seems that when the program was airing live (and the village was watching the tape three weeks later) Ben Kinchlow had delivered a prophetic word concerning a person with a very specific crippling disease. In the prophetic word, he said that God was healing the person of that disease NOW! The gentleman with that affliction in the native village who watched the video tape three weeks after it was recorded received his healing instantly as he heard the prophetic word. It was evidence of how Holy Spirit is not limited to our concepts of time and timing.
Around the same time period, Dad was serving at the request of the denomination as a "District Presbyter," and he traveled back and forth to each of the communities where my parents had pioneered. His active promotion in each community of the expanding television ministry spurred more and more communities to request the building of local TV transmitters.
By 1983 almost all of the communities now had their own tiny TV stations and each one of them had satellite antennas that gave them the capability of watching live programming. In late April or early May of that year a decision was made to begin disbanding many -- if not all -- of the local outreaches for CBN and centralize everything for their programming (with satellite communications now the mode of reaching the nation). When we left CBN that year we had grown to serve 42 communities throughout Alaska with Christian television including the major cities of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The $10,000 seed that came from our fox-trapping had multiplied beyond anything we could have imagined.
We've sort of gotten things out of sequence here in this story-telling, so let's see if we can get back on track.
In 1984, Della and I decided to take my folks to Hawaii. We invited Della's parents to come at the same time (they had never met my parents) but only Della's mother came, and our oldest son, Chris, came as well. Back in the 1940's and early 1950's, Dad was known to wish that "some day" they could go to Hawaii for a vacation. 40 years had gone by since we moved to Alaska, and Dad and Mom had never really taken a real vacation. Sure, they had done a lot of traveling, but it was all ministry-related; there was no relaxing vacation at any point.
When we stepped off the plane in Honolulu and Dad smelled the fragrance of the flowers that abound, he looked at us and said -- very emotionally -- "I know I've gone to heaven." We were able to give our parents the kind of vacation they'd always dreamed of. But that vacation was going to come with a revelation that took us by surprise.
Della and I were sitting on the beach at Waikiki watching Dad frolic in the water with Chris, having the time of his life, when Holy Spirit spoke to me. "Your Dad has two years to live. Six months before he dies, he will be diagnosed with incurable cancer and told that he has six months to live."
I couldn't have been more shocked. I turned to Della and shared with her what Holy Spirit had just said. We talked about it and both felt that it was something to keep to ourselves -- that we were being prepared ahead of time so that we could minister to the family appropriately as the time approached.
At the same time, Dad had repeatedly confessed throughout the years that he would live for 70 years. The first time I heard him say that where it actually registered what he was saying was in my early teens. I argued with him saying that first of all, God's promise in Genesis 6:3 was 120 years. Furthermore, he was taking what Moses was recorded in saying in Psalm 90:8-10 out of context where he prefaces his comment about man's days being seventy years saying that "our days are passed away in thy wrath" because of sin and disobedience to Him. Somehow, my arguments never got through -- not until he was 69 years old and he realized that his health was beginning to fail.
Meantime, Della and had altered our plans, put our household goods in Anchorage in storage and gone to Saint Paul Island knowing that Dad was going to need help, and that there were things that needed to be accomplished prior to his passing so as to minimize my mother's needs. We hauled and cut up logs and lumber that had floated up on the beach, as well as lumber left from Exxon's construction projects on the island. It enabled us to literally fill a building Dad and I had built that was 12 X 16 X 8 with firewood.
During World War II, a barge loaded with coal had been unloaded on the island for the use of the Army's lookout station and what later became the Weather Bureau. The coal had been abandoned throughout the years, covered with blown scoria and overgrown with grass. Mom had discovered it one day in her walks about the island, and we dug up and hauled several tons of it to store in the basement and in the garage in buckets and bins.
Dad was making trips back and forth to Anchorage by this time to see the doctor. Saint Paul Island did not have a doctor. There was a clinic of sorts, manned by a P.A. to care of routine issues, but he lacked any real facilities. Nothing had been diagnosed yet, and although a number of tests had been run, the medical reports were inconclusive.
Late in 1985, the family doctor in Anchorage told Dad that although he couldn't prove it yet, he was convinced that there were tumors that needed to be taken care of. Dad decided to fly to Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oral Roberts' City of Hope hospital. The physicians there planned for surgery but when they opened him up on the operating table, they closed him right back up. When he awoke from the anesthesia, they told him that he had cancer spread throughout every one of his major organs and that removal was impossible. They told him he could expect no more than six months to live.
At that point it became clear that Della and I needed to return to Anchorage, get a home and prepare to take care of Dad. He was going to need repeated blood transfusions and needed the ready access to medical care. Dad's sister, Avis Daniel, (we called her "Auntie A") flew back with Dad in order to take care of him. She had schooling as a nurse, though she had not practiced in many years. Mom remained on the island temporarily to continue the ministry until the Alaska Missions District could find someone to take care of things.
Auntie A began calling every major ministry requesting prayer for Dad. After 40-plus years of ministry, and the reports of the miracles that literally spanned the globe, his name was fairly well known and people like R.W. Schambach and John & Dodie Osteen (Joel Osteen’s parents) called him on the phone to encourage him and pray for him. Dodie Osteen had been healed from cancer and wanted to share her experience of healing with Dad. For the first time in his life he realized the mistake he'd made by repeatedly confessing that he only had 70 years to live. Although he attempted to change his confession and speak the truth of God's Word concerning our life spans, it was too late to undo a lifetime of a wrong confession.
On Good Friday of 1986, barely six months before what would have been his 71st birthday, he changed addresses and went home to be with the Lord. The nurses at Providence Hospital in Anchorage remarked that they had never seen such peace in someone who passed away. Dad died with a smile radiating his face as he saw the angels coming to receive him.
His funeral was delayed as announcements went out so that people could make travel plans to be at his funeral. Indeed, there were people who traveled from around the world to be there. In spite of the fact that the denomination at that time struggled with the idea of the five-fold ministries as described in Ephesians 4:11 (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor & Teacher), Dad's longtime friend and pastor from North Pole, Alaska, Ralph Miller, wrote and published a piece which he shared at the funeral titled, My Friend, the Apostle.
There's still more to share. Mom continued the ministry at Saint Paul Island for another 14 years until her passing in the fall of 2000. We'll try to wrap this up next week.
I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on the first Monday of each month at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific). Our call-in number is (712) 775-7035. The Access Code is: 323859#. For Canadians who have difficulty getting in to this number, you can call (559) 546-1400. If someone answers and asks what your original call-in number was, you can give them the 712 number and access code.
At the same time, in case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (605) 562-3140, and the access code is 308640#. We hope to make these gatherings available by Skype or Talk Fusion before long. If you miss the live call, you can dial (605) 562-3149, enter the same access code and listen in later.
Blessings on you!
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