The last 6 weeks have been memorable for my family and me, to say the least. Donna, my oldest child and I hope to arrive home tonight after a wonderful experience in Alaska. The Reformation Conference was very encouraging, and the opportunity to fellowship with pastors and serious-minded church leaders has left me very hopeful about what the Lord is doing in South-Central Alaska.
Many of the stories that I heard about the difficulty of ministry are similar to those that are told by pastors and serious believers all over. Spiritual lethargy, doctrinal ignorance and cultural Christianity are maladies that know no geographic, ecclesiastical or confessional boundaries. The need for reformation and revival is widespread.
Yet, the signs of reformation can be found in Alaska as well as elsewhere. The very fact that a Reformation Society has been formed and concerted efforts to promote fellowship around the Gospel is indication of that.
Alaskan churches face some peculiar challenges, which is true of churches everywhere. The rugged individualism and “can-do” spirit that is vitally important to living in an environment that can be harsh and demanding. While we were there, we went from having 17 hours of daylight to 16 hours. Days are shortening by more than 5 minutes with each sunset. In the depth of winter, only a few hours of daylight will appear each 24 hours. Anchorage has witnessed several bear attacks this year–one leaving a 15 year old girl several injured by a Grizzly.
Individualism can lead a man to think that he is self-sufficient in every area of his life. The Gospel must be proclaimed with a special sensitivity to deconstructing this delusion. I have been encouraged by the believers that I met who are committed to doing just that.
I have been very conscious of the Lord’s help as I have returned to limited ministry activities. And I know that this help has been given in response to the prayers of God’s people. As I reflect on what the Lord has done and how He has done it, I am humbled and very grateful for His grace that has been communicated to me through so many means.
As I begin to transition to my regular responsibilities, I am very hopeful about the future. As Greg Welty and others have challenged me, I don’t want to “waste my lightning.” Pray that God will help me at just this point.