Wake up! You're
missing out on the best part of the day!
Oh, I know. Lots of you are sleepy-heads. You like to sleep in like Della don't tell her I said that. Actually, I can't say that anymore. She does like to sleep in -- when she can -- but she's generally up by 7:00 to 7:30.
I've been an early morning person my whole life. A couple of folks have asked me how in the world I can keep doing these articles, week after week after week after week. Easy. I'm nearly always up at 4:30 - , seven days a week.
Nawwww I don't have to get up, get my suit and tie on, head out the door, jump in my car and go to the office “ not anymore, anyway, like I used to when I was watching over TV stations. My office is across the alley, maybe 50 yards from the back door. Good thing you can't see me right now! I'm in my summer shorts and tee-shirt. After I finish this Coffee Break, I'll run back to the house and change into something a little more respectable.
There's some more of that nice, oily San Francisco Bay French Roast in the French Press. Love that aroma! If you're out and about in the Yakima Valley, stop by and have a cup. If not, pour yourself a cup of some really dark roasted coffee.
I was running long in Wednesday's post, so I decided not to include some photos that I could have added. These pictures will provide you with some more visuals of our discussion. As noted on Wednesday, the Point Hope church was virtually identical to the Wainwright church.
Luke Ikpik and his dog sled (from a newspaper photo) Wainwright Church -- 1st Construction Phase
We were just starting to talk about the religious traditions that had been established in Point Hope before we quit on Wednesday. As already noted, the Episcopal church had existed in Point Hope for some 60 - 70 years or more, and the entire community (there were no churches other than the Episcopal prior to our arrival) considered itself to be of Episcopal "faith." The problem with that was that many, if not most, of the villagers really didn't know what that meant.
The local priest had obviously never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and his Sunday morning "messages" were feel-good, warm-and-fuzzy discourses on everything under the sun except Jesus Christ. Because he himself had never experienced a life-change by and through the power of the Holy Spirit in his life, nothing he did or said brought any life-changes to those in the community. Many of the villagers remained steeped in their superstitions, traditions carried over from centuries past when they were migrating Mandarin Chinese escaping from Genghis Khan some 2,500 years ago.
Just as an aside to this discussion, while we were living in Barrow, an anthropologist working with the Naval Arctic Research Laboratories who was studying the ancient culture and history of the Alaskan (and Canadian) Eskimos released the results of his decade-long research. He was able to pretty clearly demonstrate that the Eskimos were a clearly distinct group of people who were completely unrelated to the Indians. Their culture was different, their skills differed, and their reasoning processes were different. Buried in the various dialects of the Yupik, the Inuit, and the Inupiat were words and phrases clearly of Mandarin origin. The farther back in their history archaeologists dug, the more Chinese they became.
(My brother and I were on a dig with my mother one day down the coast from Barrow when we uncovered an ancient mound home. In that home were intricate carvings made of ivory and jade which demonstrated a superb sense of the artistic. One of the carvings had distinct Oriental features. It was an elegantly executed ivory doll with feet that unscrewed to reveal an ivory needle for sewing with sinew still in the needle. The piece ultimately wound up in a museum.)
I've said all that to say this: the religious traditions that had shaped the culture of these people dated back thousands of years. The superstitions that trapped and entangled their lives were deeply ingrained to the point that no facade of pretend-Christianity would ever bring deliverance and freedom. The fact that Point Hope was still ordered under shamanistic ideas and concepts meant that the villagers still feared the local shaman. He took great delight in ensuring that the community feared him so as to maintain his place of power and influence, and wouldn't hesitate for a second to pronounce curses and cast spells on anyone who wouldn't yield to his instructions or demands.
When we first arrived in Point Hope, the place really was a kind of "fiefdom" with the shaman and the Episcopal priest both vying for power and authority and influence -- and neither one having any concept of what true authority and power were all about. But some spiritual preparations had been made for our arrival about a year and a half earlier when Dad and Howard Andersen made a boat trip, evangelizing villages, camp sites and hunting stations along the arctic coast all the way from Kotzebue (which was about 150 miles southeast of Point Hope) to Kaktovik on Barter Island on the Canadian border (a total distance of about a thousand miles).
The plan for the boat trip had been made when we were still in the "lower 48" sharing the burden and vision for expanding the church in Barrow. Dad was able to purchase a 21 or 22-foot military fiberglass boat (it really was nothing more than a shell when he bought it) and transport it up the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks where it was kept until the needed moment in time. In the summer of 1959, Dad had shipped a 40 or 50-foot diameter tent from Fairbanks to Kotzebue, along with the boat (which he had custom fitted for the journey) and a 35hp outboard motor. He and Howard gathered together some appropriate clothing, their Bibles, guitar and banjo and flew to Kotzebue to begin the water trek.
Over a period of five or six weeks, they worked their way around the coastline from townsite to townsite, stopping in between at summer campsites and hunting stations where families were gathering their meat for the coming winter. Where the situation warranted, they pitched the tent and had tent meetings -- sometimes for days at a time, sharing the Gospel and leading people to a genuine experience of salvation through Jesus Christ. Point Hope was one of those stops, of course.
Except for the once or twice-a-year ship that might arrive with supplies, and the occasional hunter or tourist who would arrive by bush plane just to see what the area looked like, visitors were a scarce commodity. Dad and Howard Andersen's arrival, therefore, by boat with a tent and subsequent evangelistic services was something of a novelty and people were more than curious about the things they had to share.
Although there were several townspeople at Point Hope who made a public confession of accepting Jesus Christ during the tent meetings, there was one family in particular -- the Frankson family (David was the local postmaster) -- whose response to the Lord was more than just a surface experience. Nevertheless, the grip of tradition held them in ways they could not explain, and the fact that they had not yet been filled with (or baptized with) the Holy Spirit made them a target of Satan, who didn't like his territory threatened. The day was about to come, however, when their young daughter, Rosa, would make a stand for Jesus Christ in the community with a boldness that would tear down the strongholds of religion, tradition, superstition, fear, and the witchcraft of the local shaman.
But let's don't go there just yet. Soon. Soon.
As Dad and Howard continued their sea-going journey, the weather began to be a factor. More than once they nearly lost their boat (and their lives) to waves that threatened to capsize the craft. 21 feet is not a lot of boat, folks! When you have a tent, a camp stove, an outboard motor and a 50-gallon drum supplying that motor with fuel, their instruments, food, clothing and other stuff all crammed into it, I don't care what kind of floatation you have; your boat is loaded and riding low in the water! Several times they had to make a run for the beach to beat an oncoming wave that would have swamped them. Had the boat been swamped and flooded, the water was so cold they would not have had time to swim to shore.
The average Eskimo -- mostly because of the heavy concentration of oils in his diet -- can survive the water for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. The average "tunnik" (us white folks) survive an average of 45 to 90 seconds before succumbing to the cold temperatures. That arctic water is so heavy in its salt concentration that the temperature has to approach zero degrees before it freezes. Even in the warmest period of the summer, the sea water temperature will never get above 35 - 39 degrees. That said, Dad and Howard were making their coastal journey in continuously life-threatening conditions.
When they reached Barrow (which was not quite half the distance to Barter Island), they took a break to get fresh supplies, refill their gas drum and get some fresh clothing, then continued along the coldest and most treacherous portion of their journey. I say "treacherous" because of the moving ice pack and their having to wend their way between floating icebergs at times which could have easily crushed the boat by coming together at the wrong time.
The Prudhoe Bay oil fields had not yet been developed even though we all knew there were vast amounts of oil in the arctic, and the Alaska Pipeline wasn't even a thought in anyone's mind. That didn't mean, however, that there weren't people living all along the arctic coast. Numerous campsites and villages that don't even appear on any map dot the coastline. Only a few of these places are occupied year-round, but in the summer, the hunting is spectacular and caribou abound in huge numbers. We have seen herds in excess of 100,000 of these animals at a time.
Our oldest daughter, Debbie, worked for several years on the Alaska Pipeline and she sent me the picture below that she took of a herd of caribou near the pipeline at Prudhoe Bay. These animals provide some of the best meat you've ever eaten. They are a major source of sustenance even today for folks who live on the Arctic Slope.
The point of this is that where these herds feed, the Eskimo hunters set up camp, and you can find as many as 50 - 60 or even almost a hundred people gathered at these hunting camps. Knowing this provided Dad and Howard Andersen with a choice opportunity to stop, set up their tent, and gather the people together for a time of ministry. Some of these hunting camps are villages today, continuously occupied with schools, medical facilities, stores and fairly decent frame houses. Nuiqsut -- which is close to Prudhoe Bay -- is just such an example. Atqasuk on the Meade River is another.
I've never heard any figures, and I don't know that anyone counted the number of people who made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives, but it is safe to say that many dozens of people were saved, many were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and many others yet were healed of various and sundry ailments and diseases.
By the time they reached
By the time Dad and Howard had wrapped up their ministry
In the next few years to come, churches similar to the ones we built at Wainwright and Point Hope would be erected at Nuiqsut and Atqasuk. Out of that one missionary journey from Kotzebue to Barter Island came the core of the people who were the foundation of five churches: (from east to west) the church at Barter Island (Kaktovik), Nuiqsut, Wainwright, Atqasuk and Point Hope. Nuiqsut and Atqasuk did not have their churches until the late 1960's or early 1970's (sorry, but I've forgotten those dates) when those communities became official towns in Alaska.
By that time I was pastoring in Salt Lake City, and then in Long Beach, California, so I was not part of building them. Nevertheless, when the time came, Dad was supervising all of the churches in the arctic, and when requests came for new churches to be added in those communities, he had already been through this exercise many times. He provided the people in those villages with the building plans and the bill of materials, along with making the contacts for them to purchase all of their necessary supplies and get them shipped.
Well, I thought I'd have time to tell the Point Hope story today, but it looks like we need to wait until Monday for that. There's just too much to tell.
Enjoy your weekend!
Lack is not supposed to be everlasting: it is a temporary situation until you can grow some Word seed to meet the need. God has given us the two things we need to get whatever we desire: Dominion and Seed.
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