In 2018, the Lord allowed us to spend 6 weeks in Iliamna, Alaska, on a missions trip through Baptist Mid-Missions. We spent our time assisting Mike and Jeannette Clark in the work they do for the Lord's ministry in that village. Mike and Jeannette have been faithfully serving our Lord as church planters in Iliamna since 2006. I (Aaron) felt a huge burden from the Lord while visiting one of these small bush villages when an elderly sister in Christ asked me, "Are you the preacher I've been praying for?" I didn't know for sure at that point what the Lord was calling me to do, but I knew He was calling my family to come back. Seeing the great spiritual need of the bush villages in Alaska gave us a great burden to return after I finished my degree and make disciples of Christ in this part of the world.
The Lord was also working in Mike and Jeannette's hearts. At the end of our internship He led them to invite us to work along side of them. The Lord has been leading us there since then.
Why Alaska? Because there are many people in the remote villages who have never heard about the Gospel of Christ. Also, because God has been preparing us in many ways, some since childhood, and He has been increasing our burden for the amazing people who live there. Lord willing, we will be joining with the Clarks in the village of Iliamna to help with the church plant there, Iliamna Baptist Chapel. As the Lord wills, we will continue to spread the Gospel through aviation to the nearby villages where there is no consistent Gospel message. Please join us in praying for these small villages, and the dear people who need to hear about the saving work of Christ.
We returned to visit Iliamna the summer of 2023. It was such a blessing to be able to take our children there and show them where the Lord is leading us to serve...they only saw pictures before that. The Lord rekindled our burden for the people there and our desire to work with the Clark's in full time ministry.
A word from a friend who used to live in AK and worked among some Alaskan natives:
"For many, AK is a place of fascination, a romantically rustic holdover from a bygone era. In some ways it is, but it also holds some unique challenges. The long hours of darkness and daylight contribute to a very real condition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)."
"Weather can change in a moment, which makes flying particularly challenging...Like the old saying goes, 'There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots.'"
"Some Alaska Natives are very closed off to the 'white man's influence' within their culture or village. I faced this problem a number of times...Times when I thought that I was helping the village by removing a violent, predatory criminal from the community -- only to find that the village would rather have the criminal than me. I am confident this resistance is felt in the ministry, too. Alcoholism, substance abuse, sexual sin and depravity, indolence, etc., are common and some would rather keep what they are familiar with.
So our prayers go with you as you meet these challenges in a stunningly beautiful setting that so clearly displays God's creative glory."