14 Days • 11 Villages • 20 Schools • 21 Talks
Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the United States. Drugs and alcohol have long been a problem, but now synthetic heroine is entering the villages of Alaska. Drug abuse and broken families plague the next generation. The message of dignity, hope and value is desperately needed. Alaskans are moved by the performing arts, which made AJ the Animated Illusionist a smashing hit. His performances articulated the Gospel message of hope and reached their culture with grace and inspiration. Their hearts were moved through storytelling and humor. It was God’s wonderful orchestration designed specifically for the people we met.
We traveled in sleds behind snow machines when there were no roads – what a journey! We partnered with organizations like Youth for Christ, Boys and Girls Club, and Alaskan Christian College. I’m so proud of this school…the colleges gives high school students from bush villages in Alaska a full scholarship for a two-year college education in order to help them thrive in their culture and plan for their future. We connected with local churches and called them to live out biblical dignity in this land that is filled with hate, fear and addiction. We partnered with a new church in a small community called Kokhanok. More people attended the community outreach in their church than they have ever had in their building. We worked with Camp Tanalian where a friend of the family, Willie Nickols, is a missionary serving as an assistant to the camp’s program director. The camp minsters to 33 villages in the area. Willie accompanied us to six schools and he knew students in every one.
After connecting with youth and communities in Alaska for 15 years, we are reaping great fruit as well as creating a support network for students and missionaries. We don’t want these kids to fall through the cracks.
One of my personal highlights of the trip was meeting our pilot, Joel. He heard me speak over 10 years ago, when we brought Casting Crowns to his village of Unalakleet. God’s long-term impact is unbelievable!