- Published on Thursday, May 02, 2013
- Written by David Grosz
It is humbling for me to talk about money. I wish I was in a position where my ministry in SW Alaska was blessed with an abundance of financial resources. If this were the case then I could say we must be doing God's will; look at how He is blessing us! This is not the case however. Financial giving for SW Alaska is down. In a few months, if nothing changes, cuts in the ministry will need to be made.
Before coming to Alaska, I worked for an organization that raised money using highly developed marketing techniques implimented by highly paid people. And, these techiques were successful. You are exposed to them everyday. AMC has intentionally chosen not to use these marketing tools to work on our supporters and friends. Instead our approach has been that of Saint Paul. He was not afraid to talk about money, or even ask for it. But, he would not manipulate emotions, or otherwise pressure Christians to give (Cor.16:1-4). Paul simply stated the need, and let the Holy Spirit work. The result was to God's glory and not man's cleverness.
Paul asked the Corinthians to help the church in Jerusalem that was suffering from a famine. The AMC ministry in SW Alaska is asking for funding to continue work in child evangelism, Christ centered healing for victims of abuse and addiction, and bible teaching for local Native Alaskan church leaders.
God bless you!
Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. Philippians 4:20
- Published on Friday, April 05, 2013
- Written by David Grosz
This past week I was out in SW Alaska attending the Moravian Synodical meetings. The Moravian church is a pre-reformation protestant church founded in 1457. They administer the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. They started work in SW Alaska just before 1900. As I stood looking out over the frozen Kuskokwim River, I had to reflect on how different mission work has become in most areas of the world. When I first started doing mission work we were still ministering to groups of people who had never heard about Jesus Christ in a meaningful way. Some had never even heard the name, Jesus Christ. The people living in the hills of the small Asian country where I worked had no access to the gospel. Now I am doing missions in an area where the gospel has been preached for over 100 years. Does this mean that mission work is no longer needed? No. However, the role of the missionary has changed from that of pioneer to facilitator. The late Paul Hiebert wrote that, " missionaries are now 'in betweeners'. They are bridge persons and culture brokers who stand between worlds and help them to understand one another". What does this new role look like? How is it actually accomplished? Many missionaries train local church leadership, provide theological education, and write contextualized bible study and children's materials. Here in Alaska where there are acute social issues, missionaries bring healing by bringing Christ. For me this will mean returning to this place next fall to teach Alaskan Native pastors in the bible seminary.
Some may think that this new role is less difficlut from that of the original pioneers. This is true in some ways. Yes, the church has structure. The bible has been translated into the local language. Native leadership has been trained. However, there are also the challenges of a relativly new church being engulfed in social change, and learning to live as Christians and as Native people.
Thankfully, the hearts of the Native Alaskan people are not has hard as this frozen river. Despite the dramatic changes in their lives over the past 150 years or so, they are patient and open. I have been truly blessed by the people in SW Alaska. They say the land forms the character of the people who live in it. I would agree it is a strong element of formation. It certainly has made me appreciate community, simplicity, patience, and being who you are in the moment without pretence.
- Published on Monday, February 04, 2013
- Written by David Grosz
Weather is an important feature of life in bush Alaska. It is a feature of life over which there is no control for good or bad. A bright day on the river fishing can be inspiring. A day of snow and strong winds can defeat your best plans. So, it was earlier this week in SW Alaska. I flew to Bethel for a meeting of pastors and church workers living in scattered villages on the tundra. The weather closed in behind me; bringing blizzard conditions and a wind chill of 45 below zero. The flights from villages on the tundra were grounded before they could take-off. Pilots in parkas were sitting at the airport drinking coffee hoping for a break in the weather that did not come. What about the meeting that had been planned for months? Well, we will try to meet again in April. We were reminded once again that all flights in bush Alaska are scheduled…weather permitting.
So much of the ministry of AMC is dependent upon things we cannot control, weather being only one of them. We are dependent upon the generosity of faithful people, the commitment of volunteers, and primarily upon the Holy Spirit to open people’s hearts to Jesus Christ. We do not command resources, or have all of the answers for the needs we face. Therefore, I am learning to make prayer the foundation of our work. Sometimes amid a seemingly desperate situation a prayer emerges in the space of a breath…Lord have mercy!
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
The following is a poem that is posted on the wall of many small airports in Alaska.
"Way up in Alaska wherever you are
If you're headed out close or you're headed out far
When you go to the airport, you may need your knitting
For you'll only be flying, weather permitting"
"There's no use in fuming or fussing or snitting
You always face this, it's weather permitting
So don't get disheartened in the far golden North
Just learn to relax without fretting or quitting"
"And when the grim reaper comes I can see it all clear
I'm alone in my shroud, Happy Heaven is near
I'm coming, St. Peter, this old world I'm quitting
And I'll be along soon,
- Published on Sunday, December 30, 2012
- Written by David Grosz
I am sure many of you have been asked how your Christmas was. People are curious to know where you went, who you were with, or about that special gift. When people ask me, I say I had a good Christmas. This is the short answer, and allows the conversation to move on. But, if I was to be really honest I would say that this Christmas lacked the normal warmth and emotional glow that I usually feel. I suppose many of these feelings are caused by the preparations, decorations, music, and special food during the Christmas season. Never the less I felt robbed of these good feelings by the event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As the details of the event unfolded, it was so hard to greet people with the usual, "Merry Christmas". The realities of the world had "crashed" the Christmas party. In a real way, I was robbed of the Christmas experience I was expecting. As I attended school Christmas programs, and watched my own children, I could not help but grieve with the parents in Newtown. Despair seemed to permiate the atmosphere. How could such an evil attack on children take place so close to Christmas? In a season where we sing "glory to God"; God appeared so powerless to protect the innocent. In the words of the Psalmist:
Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfullness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? Psalm 88
Thankfully, I did not remain in a place of darkness, or in the land of oblivion. The tragic event helped me to gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ is. No we do not serve a cruel Lord and master. He does not stand at a comfortable distance from the suffering and evil in this world. He came into this world were innocents is no safeguard against evil, and were children are special targets of destruction. Jesus suffered all of the evil that was present at Sandy Hook Elementary School and more. Our Lord not only suffed evil he overcame it. What would it be like to live in a world where there was no alternative to evil; no one to turn to except ourselves for any comfort? As we ponder the meaning of the incarnation, and realize what the world would be like without it, we want to shout "glory to God"!
Much of the ministry of the Alaska Mission for Christ occurs among children. Close to 5,000 children heard about Jesus through our 2012 summer programs. My Christmas journey this year made me so greatful for the AMC focus on young people, and children...it must be the wisdom of God.
I will sing of the LORD'S great love forever: with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89
- Published on Friday, November 30, 2012
- Written by David G.
Many volunteers come to Alaska and serve in villages during the summer months. The weather is warm. The children are out of school. Adults are busy at fish camp, or gathering berries People are travelling up and down the rivers by boat.
In the winter village life changes. There is the secure feeling of having enough fish, moose and caribou meat for the winter. Boats are pulled up on the beach. Their motors are stored away. Four-wheelers are exchanged for snow machines. Frozen rivers become super-highways. Families on snow machines visit other villages up and down the river. The children are in school with opportunities to play basketball. It is a special time of , " no bugs and no bears".
The cold and short day light hours encourage people to spend more time indoors. Many of the traditional crafts, now practiced as art forms, were once essential skills. For example, snowshoes made of birch and laced with moose or caribou sinew (babiche) now are sold for hanging over fireplaces. In times past, snowshoes were an essential way of travel. Even mushers used snowshoes for breaking trail for their dog teams in deep snow. Wonderful carvings, and items of beadwork are created during this time. It is amazing what delights to the eye can be made using simple items and human creativity!
For those of robust health and winter outdoor skills, trapping animals for fur is a winter activity. Trapping fur-bearing animals is not the large-scale enterprise it once was in Alaska, but it still is done in many places. Martin is the most commonly trapped animal. It's fur is known as sable.
Finally, winter is a time of gathering together in native Alaskan villages. Along with the Christmas celebration, traditional potlatches are also held. One village will invite another village to a feast and dancing. These uniquely native activities are especially appreciated in remote communities.
So, even in the stillness of winter life goes on. It is a wonderful testament to the character of rural Alaskans that winter is not just endured, it is embraced as a time with unique opportunties for living.