Thursday, August 17, 2006

ALASKA 2006 Part I

In 1986 I worked as a Land Surveyor of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Cadastral Division. 13 other men and I dwelled in a tent camp about 2 miles outside the native village of Kokhanok. Kokhanok is located on the south shore of Lake Iliamna, 22 miles south of Iliamna and 88 miles northeast of King Salmon. Kokhanok is accessible by air and water. A State-owned 2,920' long by 60' wide gravel airstrip and a seaplane base serve scheduled and charter air services from Anchorage, Iliamna, and King Salmon.
The original site of Kokhanok, called “Isigiug”, was located 2 ½ miles down the beach from the present location of Kokhanok. This fishing village was first listed in the U.S. Census in 1890 by A.B. Schanz. The village has a mixed Native population, primarily Aleut. Subsistence activities are the focal point of the culture and lifestyle. The village is served by the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church. (Priests in the region are scarce. In the 5 weeks that I was in Kokhanok I attended the one and only service and it was conducted by a local “reader” that chanted the readings but did not teach or offer Holy Communion.)
I woke up Dec. 29, 2005 with a burning desire to do some research on Kokhanok. One of the first pages that came up was a page created in 1998 after interviews with several residents. I sensed a thirst in each of the interviews and recognized a huge gap growing between the youth and the elders. I felt that through me God could inspire the youth to embrace their circumstances and use their time to further God’s Kingdom by developing relationships with the elders and also sharing their music with each other. The burden on my heart was to give Kokhanok a whole month of my time, time being the most valuable asset I have.
I continued to follow news headlines for Kokhanok and searched for ministry opportunities with established missions but found no one doing ministry in Kokhanok. I connected with a couple missionaries that were serving in villages nearby but no one had been to Kokhanok and hadn’t heard of any evangelical outreach going into Kokhanok. On January 26, I watched an interview with a Native American that was ministering to his people. He spoke of how his people were filling voids in their life with many things that were unhealthy to them and how he was spreading the good news not only to his own people but to indigenous peoples around the globe. His message is that God’s story belongs to everyone and we all have a place in it regardless of our color, race, or background. The whole message seemed to be God growing a place in my heart with his love for the people of Kokhanok.
On January 27, I read on a news service on-line that two young men were missing from Kokhanok. They had left on a quad, were caught in inclement weather, and a search was being conducted for them. 3 days had passed and the temperatures were -40° so there was little hope for their survival. I felt a deep empathy for the people of the village and searched the school website for an email address. I sent the school secretary an email offering my prayers and the prayers of our church. This is the full text of her reply:
“Thank you for praying for our village...both of the young men were my nephews. I will let the village people see and read your email message. Thanks again...have a nice day. Irene”
The authorities (including a cousin of our own Nancy Wilson) and local volunteers found the bodies of the young men after a few days. Losing a 13 yr.-old and a 25 yr.-old in any community is painful but in a village as small as Kokhanok it was especially tough. I decided at that time that God was paving a way for a movement of his spirit in Kokhanok and began my plans for a visit. I emailed one of the missionaries that I’d contacted and asked for his help. He was reluctant to be involved, not knowing me nor my intentions but did give me a name, Shirley Nielsen, the grandmother of one the 25-yr. old that had just died, that I could contact regarding my transportation, food, lodging, etc. He said that she’d probably be helpful. I sent Shirley a letter but got no reply. I wrote to the village council and received no reply. No one replied to me at all but the Holy Spirit continued to fuel the fire of discipleship in my heart so I studied their culture, religion, and demographics in an effort to have the most impact for the Kingdom while leaving the least of human impact.
After much planning, much weekend surveying work, the blessing from my employers at Trinity Engineering and Surveying to take a leave of absence, I finally boarded a train in Grand Rapids on May 30. I carried 140 lbs. of gear that included everything I’d need for the 5 week stay with the exception of about 3 ½ weeks of food. I counted on my wife to send the remaining food by mail. Here is a good point to thank those who helped and gave. I received $350 in cash, much prayer support, lawn mowings for the entire time I was gone, a couple youth guitars, and hours of dehydrating from my wife and daughters. My wife could make a business of outfitting with dehydrated meals. I was surprised to discover that ordinary extra sharp brick cheese would last 5 weeks without spoilage if kept somewhat cool. My diet was all planned out and packaged according to a 2200 calories per day and balanced nutrition. I packed meat (dried beef, venison, ham, and sausage), rice, pasta, fruits, and some packages of tuna and salmon. This was supplemented often with fish I caught easily from Lake Iliamna.
I arrived in Chicago and was like a fish out of water. I have never used public transportation, with the exception of a cab, in a large city. Glory be to God and his marvelous provision! Just a short time after off-loading from the train I was approached by a somewhat sweaty man as I perused the map of Chicago on the train station wall. He certainly sensed my lack of direction and offered enthusiastically to help me out. I prayed a quick prayer, gave him a once-over, searched his eyes quickly and told him what a blessing from God he was. He offered to carry my bags to the subway station or call me a cab. He recommended a subway because it was cheaper. We had a great talk about how bad Chicago needed people to love her and her people as we hustled toward the subway. He helped me get the bags down the steep steps and up to the boarding turnstile and I handed him a $20 and bid him blessings for a rich and interesting life. He likewise blessed me and was gone as fast as he had approached me. He didn’t smell all that good but I’ll remember his easy smile and seemingly limitless exuberance as much as any part of the trip.
The subway was probably the most disconcerting time of the whole trip. There were a few different men that got on and then off that were the type that seemed to challenge you with their looks. Posers with wounds so deep and a well of pain so full that I found it impossible to ignore them and I prayed solemnly for Christ to move their hearts, to wet their dry, red eyes with tears of surrender, and to heal their brokenness. There were women with children, elderly people, business men and women, almost all entering silently, riding from one burden towards another, then exiting. It was the saddest hour and 40 minutes that I think I’ve ever observed. Not my own sadness but the sadness of a people, colored like the rainbow but devoid of light and power. Slumped, sullen, angry, lost shells moving slowly from one aspect of their dreary lives to another. Chicago subways are not a place of joy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Does this really matter to Jesus?

Carlton Pearson :: Carlton Pearson: To hell and back

Please read the article and add your comments if you have any. My heart goes out to Carlton and I can't really say that whether you believe in a physical Hell can save you from it or not. Only Jesus saves and believing on him and his life has to be the common ground that we focus on, the rest is meant for dreaming and discussion. All we do should ultimately point to Jesus. I have my opininion of Carlton Pearson and Oral Roberts but it doesn't point to Jesus so its not worth sharing. Love the Lord and love each other and we'll be assured life, peace, and joy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy Anniversary Love!

To quote my 17 yr.-old son, "I hope that you two have a wonderful anniversary and I have never seen two people so suited to each other. You both compliment each other, no doubt about that. I hope one day I have a marriage that works as well as yours seems to."
I pray, Jesus, you continue to grow us. I beg you help us approach you and each other with a child-like awe. Lord lead our hearts to simple worship, simple prayer, simple study, simple living so as not to reduce the Gospel. You have taken my heart of stone and have crushed it, emptied it poured it out and then filled it. You've put new wine into the new skin and time after time fill me to overflowing. Thank you for my Leslie. I will cherish her forever. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In His Name

I've been doing alot of listening/reading about the house, micro, emergent, resurgent, macro, mega, giga, traditional, contemporary, liturgical, missional, seeker, planted, organic, simple, ancient, yada yada yada churches. It boils down to my friend Stan here. Stan had never shot a pistol before this weekend. I don't think Stan has met many men he could respect and/or trust aside from his grandfather. I value Stan and this weekend I was shown what Jesus' bride looks like and it looks like Stan. Stan, you made my day and I learned from you. Many blessings to all the men who shared some life in one of the rarest ecosystems on this planet.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Wild At Heart

Plenty of fish, steak, sweet rolls, bacon (lots of bacon), gunpowder, waves, biking, hiking, jeeping, and fellowship along with a good dose of testosterone marked our 4th annual "Wild at Heart" men's camp. This year we convened on Drummond Island in Lake Huron to just go in and get rowdy. We did manage to engage in many thoughtful discussions revolving around relationships, the Glory of God, men as spiritual leaders, and especially how nature models how we humans are to live. I can't think of a time that I had more good, wholesome fun with a group of real brothers. Yayah! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 03, 2006

meditatio at the water's edge: The Conversion of Religious

meditatio at the water's edge: The Conversion of Religious

I liked this.

Developing Discipleship

I was listening to a podcast by Erwin McManus this afternoon and heard this….

“When asked by CNN why we do what we do the way we do it at Mosaic I said,

‘I have an 18 yr. old son and a 14 yr. old daughter and I would never want to make them slaves to my present but I want to be a servant to their future….Part of understanding Mosaic is that we do not want to make you (to the congregation) a slave to the present but we want, together, to serve the future’”

I thought that statement and vision very provocative. The mission statement of the church I attend is (or was the last time I checked) "Net the Normal and Develop Disciples". What is your first thought when you read the question "What is your church about?".