December 11, 2015


Good Morning!  If I seem to take a lot of time in laying foundations for this story, bear with me.  These foundations are important in understanding complete obedience to the Lord, and not allowing the influence of others around you who do not share the call, or the vision, and have been compromised by their fear of man, their fear of death or their fear of evil.


If Dad could have been called a man of “true grit,” Mom was no less an adventurer.

Furthermore, she knew the call of God in pretty much the same intensity (if not methods) Dad had experienced.  The thought that Alvin could be lost at sea when God had so remarkably and miraculously called them to Alaska just didn't sit -- AT ALL!  "No, thank you, Gentlemen.  God didn't call us to Alaska just to allow Alvin to drown at sea.  We'll wait."  The fishermen shook their heads at their perception of her state of denial but allowed as how they'd wait a bit longer.


Meanwhile, Alvin Capener is having the ride of his life!  His 50-foot boat is being tossed to and fro.  Huge waves are crashing down over the craft, temporarily burying it before it could (and did) come bobbing back to the surface, right side up.  Hours of this kind of abuse were causing the boat to creak and groan, and by late Thursday afternoon, he knew the boat wasn't going to make it much longer.


After one of these "combers" buried the boat and he came bobbing back up, he dropped to his knees beside his bunk bed and prayed a very quick prayer.  "Father, I know that you didn't call me to Alaska just to allow me to die at sea.  This has to stop!"


Watching for an opportune moment, he opened the cabin door, dashed out onto the deck of the boat and raised his hand out over the water.  "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you, PEACE, BE STILL!"  Then he dashed back into the cabin and slammed the door before the next wave could hit.


It was the last wave!  Within 20 minutes, the sea was glassy calm.  The skies cleared, and the storm vanished as though it had never happened.  [It is a matter of meteorological record that the National Weather Bureau showed the storm ceasing.  Meteorologists had no natural explanation for what occurred.]  And the fish began to bite.  Did they ever begin to bite!


With his engine running, the fish were getting caught in the lines and being chopped in half by the prop because he just couldn't get to them fast enough.  He'd had the engine running to help hold his position, but a gentle breeze came up and began to blow him back in towards the Oregon coast.  So he shut down the engine and let the boat drift.  Meantime, he was pulling in fish as fast as he could.


Saturday morning comes, and no one has seen hide nor hair of Alvin Capener.  There's been no word, and a few fishermen ventured out to see if they could spot any sign.  By late Saturday morning -- nearing the noon hour -- the same delegation decided they needed to help Lillian Lorraine Capener face reality.  Her husband was gone!  Despite the fact that no one could account for the sudden death of the storm, and the accompanying change of weather, coupled with the fact that no one had seen or heard anything that would indicate he was still alive, these fishermen felt very secure in their "facts."


"Ummm.... Uhhh, Mrs. Capener, really!  You can't still believe Al survived that storm!  No one has heard a thing.  There is simply no sign he's still alive.  We really need to get on with the preparations for his funeral."


Most women would be pretty close to a breaking point by now, but Mom wasn't "most women."  She was absolutely convinced that God had protected her husband, that he would return safe and sound, and they would -- on schedule -- be headed off to Alaska by the fall of the year.  "I'm sorry, Gentlemen, but we just have to wait a little longer.  He'll be here.  You'll see.  The Lord is with him."


Mom's response to them made them sure she had just gone off the deep end, was in denial and incapable of facing "facts."


"I'm sorry, Gentlemen, but we just have to wait a little longer.  He'll be here.  You'll see.  The Lord is with him."


Long about 5:00 PM that Saturday afternoon, someone spotted a dot on the horizon.  Binoculars showed that it was a boat -- or at least a part of a boat -- moving very slowly towards the coastline.  Word spread quickly throughout the community, and it wasn't long before a very large part of Ilwaco's citizenry were perched in every available viewing spot, watching this boat slowly make for the docks.


What folks finally saw left them in total disbelief.  It was Dad, all right.  It's not a wonder the first views made observers wonder if the boat was really intact.  He was standing at the wheelhouse, but he was standing in fish.  The holds were full.  There wasn't one square inch of deck space to put another fish.  He had thrown fish into the cabin.  There were fish covering the floor of the cabin, fish under his bunk, fish on his bunk.


That the boat hadn't capsized was a miracle of astounding proportions.  The decks were 4 inches above the water.  The boat was so heavily laden with fish that most of its floatation was gone.  It was one of those fish stories to beat all fish stories! 


Remember Peter, James and John, and their astounding catch of fish after Jesus told them to "cast your nets on the other side"?  They caught so many fish they had to call for help.  Neither of their boats nor their nets would hold it all, and Luke (5:2-4) tells us that they began to sink because of the weight.


That Dad's boat stayed afloat was spectacular testimony to those Ilwaco fishermen -- many of whom were unbelievers and atheists.  In the days to come, however, the community -- and indeed, the entire fishing community along the western coasts of the United States, Canada and Mexico -- were going to hear just how spectacular this seven-week fishing season had been for this "Landlubber-Preacher-Fisherman."


Jim had to call for help to carefully move the boat up to Raymond where the fish could be unloaded for processing.  Early the next week, Dad went to see him to get a tally of the fish caught.  He was pretty sure he'd made the $1,000 he'd hoped for, but he really had no idea where the totals were.


"Capener," Jim said, "In seven weeks, you've personally taken 39,000 pounds of Albacore Tuna.  To you, this catch is worth -- and here's the check to pay for it -- $6,300.00!"


A reporter for the Associated Press got hold of the story and began to do some research.  The next newspaper headline read, "LANDLUBBER-PREACHER-FISHERMAN SETS ALL TIME WORLD RECORD."  That was more than 70 years ago, and it still stands today as the all-time record for catching Albacore with that size boat and "gear."


The funny part of it was that there was no "gear."  It was just lines strung over the side of the boat.  Every last one of those 39,000 pounds of fish were taken by hand!

You've gotten it, haven't you?  Not only had the Lord provided the thousand dollars to pay off the church debt, He had provided the $5,000 for the move to Alaska, the building of the new church in Nome -- and, according to my Mother, $300 for her for "stuff."   Hohohohoho...............  And some folks think God doesn't care about the little things!


But wait.  This story isn't ended.  Not by half!  Think we've seen miracles?  Well, you don't know miracles, yet.


With fishing season at an end, some of the old die-hard fishermen who'd previously thought Alvin Capener was a looney landlubber who had no business being at sea came around to see him.  "Well, Capener, you've taken our breath away!  As a fisherman, you're some kind of whiz kid!  You'll have to take your earnings from this season and buy yourself a nice, big boat and some fine tuna gear.  Next year, you'll really make a haul!"  Dad just smiled and said, "No.  You don't understand.  God has given me this miraculous catch of fish so that I can be a fisher of men.  We're leaving for Alaska in October."


Those fishermen just walked away shaking their heads.  It made no sense to them.  But the majority of the fishermen working out of the port of Ilwaco that year had done well -- extremely well -- because they had caught Albacore tuna instead of salmon, which was bringing roughly one-sixth the price of tuna.  Following the 1944 season, they went out and bought bigger boats and better tuna gear.


In 1945, most of those same fishermen were nearly bankrupted.  They hardly caught enough tuna to pay the bills, let alone make a profit.  But salmon were back in the coastal waters -- not Albacore Tuna.  What happened?  This same bright AP reporter who'd figured Dad had set an all-time record with his tuna catch decided to do some further investigation.  What he found astonished him.


The shift had begun -- as previously noted -- in the late summer of 1943 from salmon to tuna.  Ilwaco had never been known as a tuna port.  It had always been noted for its salmon.  When tuna began showing up along the west coast that year, fishermen had been overjoyed because of the financial prospects and an official "tuna season" was declared for 1944.  1945 came and the tuna had mostly disappeared.  Those who actually did catch tuna had to go hundreds of miles out to sea.


In studying the records of ocean currents, this same AP reporter discovered that the entire Japanese Current had swung off course -- way off course -- bringing warmer water (and not coincidentally, Albacore Tuna) to the eastern Pacific.


You see it, don't you?  When God calls His people to do the supernatural, He sometimes alters circumstances and "nature" to set things up.  Dad was not a fisherman by trade or by experience.  For him to catch 39,000 pounds of Albacore Tuna -- and out-fish the professional fishermen in the process -- was a stupendous miracle of its own.  Had he taken 39,000 pounds of salmon, his financial take would have been one-sixth the amount -- or just over a thousand dollars.  God moved the entire Japanese Current to send the right kind of fish into those waters.


It was no big deal for the Lord to do that!  But it took the obedience of one man -- Alvin Capener -- to set it up, and everyone else prospered because of it.  Those who thought to cash in on that prosperity the next year without the blessing of the Lord, and set their sights on the money instead went broke.


So there you have it: a fish story to top all fish stories, capped with miracles of provision, a miracle of calming the violent storms, and a miracle of moving the entire Japanese Current off course.

True to form, Alvin Capener and family set sail for Alaska in October, 1944, arriving in Juneau where -- because of a measles epidemic in Nome -- Mom, my brother, Howard, and I were forced to remain for a couple of weeks.  Dad went on ahead to Nome to secure temporary quarters for the family.  On November 4, 1944, the rest of us boarded an Alaska Star Airlines Ford Tri-Motor and flew from Juneau to Anchorage to Nome.


Dad had pre-ordered and paid for the building materials to build the church in Nome, and it arrived by Alaska Steamship about the time of our arrival in Nome.  He was able to secure a piece of ground quickly, and set about to begin construction.  The full story of the construction of the church in Nome, the way that God provided an alcoholic construction crew on a dare from (then-) Air Force Colonel Marvin "Muktuk" Marston (he's a story all by himself!), the miraculous changes that began to take place in the community, and the challenges faced -- including lawsuits, the intended purpose of which was to drive the family out of Nome -- the very public vindication that God did, along with the "accidental" death of the attorney who spurred the lawsuits, all make for more stories than I can possibly recount in these short (?) Coffee Breaks.


The nine years we spent (that go-around) in Nome (I went back there to work and minister in the mid-1960's) were some of the toughest years of just plain old plowing in order to prepare the ground to produce a spiritual harvest.  After six years of serious ministry and foundation-laying with visible results to show for it, those Assembly of God brethren in the Northwest District decided they'd made a serious mistake in opposing Alvin Capener's move to Alaska.


Not only did they make a public apology for their opposition, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Springfield, Missouri, Fred Vogler, made a special trip to Nome to visit this then-farthest north, and farthest west church (Nome is farther west than Honolulu) in the world, and to let Dad know that the Assemblies would stand firmly behind him in his ministry and future endeavors.


Ironically, it wouldn't be the last time Dad would face opposition from denominational leaders as he continued to move at the direction of the Holy Spirit to establish more and more churches throughout the arctic.  His stock answer in trade became, "Brethren, you didn't call me.  God did, and I'm bound to obey His Word and His voice before I listen to anyone else."


That’s where we will leave it for today.  See you next week as we continue this saga.


I remind those of you in need of ministry that our Healing Prayer Call takes place on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Pacific).  Our call-in number has changed to (712) 775-7035.  The new 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!







Regner A. Capener

Sunnyside, Washington 98944

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