Greetings, Solutions and Salutations!
Mmmm...Hmmmm. Yup. It's been another one of those weeks.
You know how it is with the best laid plans of mice and men?
Even though I had all three Coffee Breaks written last week, there was too much
happening to actually get them published and Friday's Coffee Break wound up
getting out this week instead. It's looking
like we're only going to get two out this week as well.
Such is life!
Well, let's try this again.
I had much of today's Coffee Break written when my computer crashed, and my
work was lost. Duhhhhh.....I
normally save my work every few minutes for just such occasions -- and thought
I had this time -- but something went awry and it didn't save.
Before we get started today, I'd like to recommend a
website to you. Most
of you know that Della and I have put many, many Scriptures to music throughout
the past 30 years -- some of which are being used in churches and fellowships
around the world. Praise and worship has been
and is our primary assignment in the body of Christ.
That said, when we become aware of other music and musicians which communicate
the Word of God with demonstrable results, we take joy in recommending it.
is a site put together by Uri Harel, an Israeli-born
Hebrew teacher and musician. According to his
website, "For years (I) was talking to everyone who was willing to
listen about his idea of music in the Bible.
According to an old Hebrew tradition about the creation of the world, God used the Torah as a blueprint for the work of creating the
universe. The 22 Hebrew
letters in pre-determined combinations were used to accomplish this task. Those letters therefore represent the physical
forces used in the creation process.
"Uri Harel has produced
what he calls "Music from God," which consists of compositions
mathematically derived from the original Hebrew text of the Bible.
Harel believes the Bible contains many layers of
meaning, and that one of those layers is music.
In a recent interview Harel said: "We made an
astonishing discovery of encoded music in the original Hebrew text of the Bible. Several years of research culminated in
findings that may forever change the public's perception of this popular
ancient document, and increase interest in it among people of all walks of life. We have found the key to transforming Hebrew
letters into musical notes and have opened the way for a new kind of Bible translation”not into yet another spoken language, but
into the universal language of music."
Uri and some of his musician friends -- violinist J'Anna Jacoby, guitarist Gal Drimmer,
and musical composer, arranger (and drummer) Gardner Cole -- have produced and
released several CD's of this music -- music which is really nothing more than
the Word of God communicating through the realm of the Spirit rather than the intellect. The impact is powerful. (By the way, Uri, I'm looking for the day
when you put together music from the Creation account in Genesis.)
A friend of ours in Clovis, New Mexico took Uri's
recording titled, Days of Majesty, into a local hospital. To the astonishment of doctors and medical
personnel, people who were suffering from various diseases and sicknesses began
to recover while listening to the music.
People were healed by hearing the Word of the Lord being transmitted musically
rather than articulated as speech. That says a
lot, folks! It says something about the power
and authority of God's Word, and the ability of the Word to transcend our natural
intellect, bypassing it and going straight to the core of our existence: our
You've heard me say this many times, and I'll say it again. Music is nothing
more and nothing less than "spirit communication."
When the Spirit doing the communicating is the Spirit of God, the change effect
on the human personality and frame is nothing less than spectacular.
Do yourself a favor and go to http://www.musicfromgod.com/
and order Days of Majesty.
It'll astound you!
Let's get to our continuing saga in the north country. Pour yourself another nice big cup of that
really dark roasted Columbian coffee -- and take a load off your feet for a few
We ended our last Coffee Break talking about Father
Michael's repentance and the impact his son's death had on him. You'll appreciate that Saint Paul Island did not go
through an instant change as a result, either.
What did happen was that the overt persecution and opposition ceased. Folks on the island began to feel freer to
call on Dad for his many services.
You'll recall my telling you about "Prokoff," the lay reader in the Russian Orthodox
Church who had struggled with alcoholism, drunkenness and various addictions,
and the change that came into his life when he accepted Jesus Christ as his
personal Lord and Savior.
Although the decision had been made in him -- and a good decision it
was, too! -- to begin to know and walk with the Lord,
a lifetime of drug and alcohol addiction had taken its toll on his physical
The craving for drink was still there.
His flesh literally screamed at him. Prokoff realized that all of the habit patterns of the past
were still a part of his "want to do's," and that if he kept cash
around, the temptation to use it to purchase bottles of liquor would be
One afternoon he came to see Dad. Dad took him into his office and said, "What can
I do for you, my friend?"
"Ummm....Reverend....Uhhh, I don't know how to say this."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money. "I can't have this around or I'll spend it on whiskey. Would you take care of this for me, and
just give me enough for a few groceries when I need it?" he asked. "I'll send my wife over and she can do
the shopping. That way I won't be
Suddenly, Alvin Capener became
Saint Paul Island's banker -- in addition to being the island's center of
communications by way of his Ham radio. As
other island residents learned of Prokoff's decision
to "protect" his income, they followed suit.
A community of some 600 - 650 residents, Saint Paul did not have a bank per se,
and the few residents who had checking accounts had them based in Anchorage. This meant that in order to pay any
bills, Dad wound up writing checks for folks and mailing those checks to their
People came to him with their paychecks, and he kept an
individual ledger for each person.
Each time they "deposited" money with him, they had to initial
the ledger next to each deposit and each "withdrawal."
It was a far cry from modern banking. If anything, it harked back to the banking procedures
and methods of the old wild west in the mid-1800's.
But Dad made arrangements with banks in Anchorage to
accept these checks that were signed over to him, and they were deposited into
special accounts he set up.
He kept a ready supply of cash on hand so that if someone simply wanted
to get on a Reeve Aleutian Airways flight to Anchorage (and that was a really spendy proposition!) and do some shopping, the cash was
He never kept the money in a safe. It was simply kept in his rather large desk drawer. By the same token, he never suffered a
robbery, and he never took a loss from theft.
Neither did he make any money being the island banker.
I don't know for sure, but I'd be shocked if he made so much as a total of a
thousand dollars from all his accrued transactions on behalf of the island over
a twenty-year span.
People trusted him, and he was scrupulous...well, more
than that, he was generous.
Folks found out they could trust Alvin Capener
with anything! He became the "Gospel in Shoeleather" to Saint Paul Island.
Not only did his services to the community provide him with a constant
opportunity to minister to folks one-on-one, the changed lives that followed
began to very gradually transform the character of the island.
Don't get me wrong. Russian Orthodoxy was still the religion of the
island, and traditions -- especially religious traditions -- die hard! But God had given Alvin and Lorraine Capener a pulpit the likes of which they could never have imagined. It wasn't the one they planned on -- and
they did have that pulpit, too -- but this was the one that bore fruit that
lasts to this day.
With Orthodoxy being so dominant, there were many locals
who felt a certain amount of intimidation from their families and friends when
they turned wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ.
Centuries of tradition don't suddenly disappear, and when you have folks who
break with tradition -- particularly when it comes to a relationship with Jesus
Christ -- family and lifetime friends often view them with disapproval and distrust. As islanders began to make their
relationship with Jesus Christ more and more public, breaking away from their
regular attendance at Russian Orthodox church services and functions and coming
to the church services at the Assembly of God church, they became the focal
point of persecution and ostracizing -- something they had once been a part of
One by one, these folks left the island, moving to
Anchorage or other parts of Alaska -- and some even moved to the Northwest
(Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, etc.) This is a bit out of sequence
in the timing of our storyline, but I never realized the extent to which
islanders had left Saint Paul and moved elsewhere until I was preaching my
mother's funeral in early October of 2000, and former Saint Paul Island
residents showed up at her funeral -- some of whom were in the ministry in
other parts of Alaska. They shared with me how
the pressure to return to Orthodox traditions was so great they felt they had
to leave the island in order to have the liberty to serve the Lord without
But the Aleut people of Saint Paul Island were not Dad and
Mom's only congregation. So
long as the island was under supervision of NOAA and the U.S. Department of
Fisheries, the Fisheries personnel became regular attendees at mid-week and
Sunday services. The Coast Guard Loran station
-- which was about four miles from the main part of Saint Paul's population --
was staffed with roughly a dozen personnel, and several of those men became an
integral part of the church.
During the Second World War, the island had been an early
warning outpost for the U.S. Army.
When the War ended, and the military abandoned its facilities on the
island, they were turned over to the U.S. Weather Bureau.
In succession for almost 30 continuous years, the Weather Bureau personnel --
sometimes consisting of whole families -- were a major part of the backbone
support for Dad and Mom and the church at Saint Paul Island.
It just seemed to work that way.
The Weather Bureau personnel assigned to the island all were either committed
Christians prior to their arrival on the island, or they became committed while
sitting under Dad's ministry.
Some time after Dad & Mom arrived on Saint Paul Island
(the exact length of time is a bit hazy in my memory) -- and they had been
using the rather spacious living room of the home as a meeting place -- Dad
felt the need to construct an actual church building. The living room simply wasn't cutting it, and the
gatherings had grown to the place that using the house was becoming
He voiced his desire to build a new church building to a
few folks in some (mostly-) private letters. Immediately he received a letter from Erwin Anderson
-- Yup, the same guy who'd helped so many times in the past, and the same guy
who had been part of Dad's very first ministry in Ilwaco,
Washington -- indicating that if he would let him know how much he needed in
building materials, they would be packaged and put on the next ship.
The design for the house was pretty much along the same
lines Dad had designed every previous building for Barrow, Wainwright, Point
Hope, Nuiqsut, Atqasuk, and
Barter Island. Change
was in the works, however. A radically
different design for the church building popped into Dad's spirit, and he went
to work on a design that would be both cost-efficient, and yet striking in
appearance -- at least in terms of building architecture at Saint Paul Island.
I don't have time or space in today's Coffee Break to show
you some photos from Saint Paul Island -- they'll wait until next week -- but
the new church building for Saint Paul would seat roughly a hundred people
comfortably, and that was ambitious (or perhaps far-sighted) in terms of the
size of the church congregation. Always the
decorator, Mom decided this church needed some nice outside touches -- touches
that would be both decorative and have practical value as well.
So she drove all over the island finding rocks that would have just the right
shape to construct a rock-work wainscot exterior.
It took several months to find all of the rocks -- and several more months to
carefully put the wall together.
Though the interior of the church was nice, the
furnishings were pretty Spartan. Robert Sistrunk, the local Weather Bureau chief at the time, had
become very close to Dad and Mom. He decided
one day that the church needed furnishings to match its otherwise graceful
appearance, and told Dad that if he would order some nice oak church benches,
altars, pulpit and matching chairs for the platform and let him know what the
total cost plus shipping would be, he would write out a check to cover it.
Thus it came about that the church at
The aforementioned Robert Sistrunk
had come to Saint Paul Island calling himself a Christian.
The ministry that Dad & Mom poured into him during his years on the island
so impacted his life and caused such spiritual growth that he considered them
his spiritual parents. Years after he had left
the island he was still in constant contact with them.
One day, Robert decided that Dad needed something more
practical to move about the island than the old, dilapidated Rambler station
wagon and rusting out Ford pickup.
(Both of those vehicles were battered from the constant wind and rain
and blowing scoria (not to mention the heavy use in tasks for which they were
never intended), and though they weren't all that old in terms of years, looked
like they'd been in service for dozens of years.) Without any
forewarning, he shipped in a Honda 90 trail bike and had it delivered to them. He had no clue what
an impact that simple gift would be -- not only to Dad and Mom, but to their
ministry to the young people of the island.
Not long thereafter, Robert decided they should each have a three-wheeler, and
had two shipped in and delivered.
No one on the island had three-wheelers or dirt bikes, and
seeing the folks running around the island easily getting to places that were
normally accessible only on foot suddenly became an attraction. Young teenage boys came around begging Dad to let
them "rent" the bike or the three-wheeler.
No sooner had he rented to the first boy ($2.00 per hour) when he had a lineup
of boys who would stand around and wait until the previous renter's hour was
All of a sudden, Dad had a fistful of young boys, ranging
from eight years of age to 15 and 16, who hung around hour after hour after hour. It was a built-in opportunity to talk to them
about the Lord Jesus Christ. You'd rarely ever
see these boys in church under any normal circumstances, and despite the fact
that they might answer when questioned, "I'm Russian Orthodox," they
really had no clue what that was, and had zero knowledge of the Bible or the
Word of God as it applied to them.
Dad wasn't preachy. He never "sermonized" in his conversations
with the boys but found ways to carefully and casually talk about the love of
the Lord and to draw the boys into conversation.
It didn't happen overnight but over a period of weeks, months and years, many
of these boys -- and before long, girls -- began to kneel in Dad's garage and
accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Remember the boys who were part of the rock-throwing episodes? They were also
among the renters, and some even among those who accepted Jesus Christ.
There's more, and I guess we need to hold the continuation
of this story for today.
We'll pick it up here on Monday.
God NEVER calls His people to do the possible.
"Possible" is only the rational mind's way of dealing with human capabilities. God ALWAYS calls His people to do and
perform the impossible. "Impossible"
only exists in rational thinking.
"Impossible" is ALWAYS "probable" and "accomplished"
when seen through the eyes of faith.
The Blessing of the Lord be upon you.
Sunnyside, Washington 98944
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