"The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted..." Psalm 116: 5-6a
I was given a moment of pause and reflection by the little girl in the picture. She walked in wide-eyed on the first day of vacation bible school (VBS) in Akiachak. Her hair was done in a single braid, and her clothes were simple but adequate. She sat apart . Despite the activity by the other children in the room she gave her total attention to the songs and bible stories. What could she be thinking? What stirred in her spirit? Was she really alone, or was Jesus holding her close in this moment? All I knew was that she was the picture of serenity.
The VBS team from Nebraska had traveled far to reach this small community located near the Kuskoquim River that flows into Bristol Bay. They had spent weeks preparing bible stories, crafts, and skits for the children. Once in the village they lived with cold showers, mosquitoes, and long long days. However, each and everyone of them gave generously of themselves. The afternoon VBS was followed by an evening of activities with the children and young adults. There were countless games of jump-rope, piggy-back rides, and basket ball games until late in the evening.
Village life at this time of the year is centered around fishing. Many people pack-up boats and travel to their fish camps. These are usually small clearings along the river away from the village where they live for weeks at a time. In these camps they catch, clean, and dry fish for the winter. Some children were taken from the VBS to join their families in this work.
The team members admitted that they were changed by the week in the village. Even the "veterans", those who had been to Akiachak in prior years, had been given new in-sights. Some realized that they may never visit this community again, others vowed to come back. A few felt a stirring to seek a deeper ministry to the souls in this remote place.
As I watch teams climbing into small planes, I pray that the Holy Spirit would bring the faces of these simplehearted children into their minds in their moments of quiet. And, that they would pray for the Lord's protection on them.