By Heather Hansen, Church Planting Assistant in Alaska
It was the spring of 2016 when I saw a Facebook photo of three young adults, two of which I went to Bible School with, that were heading to Alaska for the summer. They were still in need of a fourth team member. As I was driving that morning, I prayed for that team member when it hit me, “Lord if you want me to go, let me know. They have to call me because I’m not calling them.” Less than a week later I got a call to which I responded “yes”. Three more summers of VBS, over 200 kids to hear the good news, and one case of sepsis brings us to today.
When I came back from my first summer in Alaska, people would ask about it to which I responded “I fell in love”. Alaska has a way of capturing your adventurous, nature-driven longing. The sunsets in the summer are long and beautiful. I fell in love with precious souls that would show up early for VBS and stay late. Unbeknownst at the time, it was these moments of playing games, going to the playground, hiking, or swimming in freezing water that was a vital ministry. Not only did it allow us time to get to know the children but it also allowed us to meet them where they are at.
My love only grew for the kids in villages. In the summer of 2019, I ended up with a skin infection known as cellulitis. The cellulitis would spread into my bloodstream known as sepsis. I left the village early and got flown to Anchorage where it was discovered my organs were shutting down. The first question I asked my doctor was, “When can I go back?” I didn’t end up finishing out the last week that summer with the team due to my recovery. My teammates can tell you of all tears that were shed due to that fact. Mostly my own.
September 23, 2020 I finally got to come back! Coming back, I have never felt more alive. Taking the step of faith to move to a remote village during a pandemic has been stressful at times. There are times when you see your teammates in the airport in Seattle. When you see a child that you’ve been praying for doing better than when you last saw them. Seeing a child you met at the playground a couple of years ago walk in for Sunday school. The child hadn’t been at VBS before but it was an answered prayer. Having God continue to show his faithfulness.
I came back though, because I saw a need. There are needs for listening ears. A need for trusted friends. A need for strongholds to be broken. A need for mountains to be moved. The ultimate need for a Savior. God has crafted my interests and gifts to currently best reach the people in remote Alaska. There are FAR MORE needs for a Savior in the world than just one person can bear. In God's great provision and sovereignty, he's invited all of us to join in to see the work he is doing to reach people with our own unique gifts and interests,whether it’s across the states, sea, or street.