September 2008 God miraculously opened the door for AFLC Home Missions to begin ministering in Naknek, AK. The story is an amazing testimony of God’s direction and provision! This new frontier fell under Home Missions, not World Missions, because (although distant) Alaska is part of the US 50.
Rural Alaska is unlike any other part of the United States. It’s unique wildlife, rugged terrain, unusual moonlit days in the winter and sunlit nights in the summer, all display God’s power and creativity. The mountains, volcanoes, tundra, and glaciers put us in awe of our Creator!
But amidst all this beauty is a people in need of the Word of Jesus Christ. So many remote villages, isolated from communication and transportation (except by air), are without any Gospel witness. Abuse, alcoholism, and depression are rampant, leading to vast spiritual darkness.
AFLC Home Missions and FLAPS are blessed to be Ambassadors for Jesus Christ into these communities. Most Home Missions ministry in Naknek fits into one of three categories:
* Local Naknek ministry (North and South Naknek chapels)
* KAKN Christian radio broadcasting
* Mission Aviation services (ministry into surrounding, remote villages)
Pastor Jeff and Jane Swanson, Pastor Jeremy and Lacey Crowell, and KAKN Station Manger Pastor Bob and Margaret Lee, are seeing a new hunger for spiritual things rising in the Christian community. We rejoice in this! One man’s TV broke and he was “forced” to listen to our Christian radio station. He says he is growing in the Lord daily as he listens and his life is turning around.
Where is Naknek?
Naknek, AK is located on the north bank of the Naknek River near its mouth on Bristol Bay. It is approximately 300 miles SW of Anchorage and only accessible by boat or air. As of the 2000 census, the population was 678.
The local economy is almost entirely based on salmon fishing, and seats one of the largest commercial salmon fishing areas in the world. It’s six salmon processors draw thousands of seasonal workers each summer, and then drops to several hundred in the winter.
Where There is No Road
The state of Alaska is one-fifth the size of the lower forty-eight states and two and one-half times the size of Texas. Yet, it has less than 700,000 people. About one-third of the population lives in Anchorage, which gives you a perspective of how much remote area there is in the state. Virtually all the roads are in the eastern half of the state, with only a few short segments of road in the western half.
Transporting the Word of God
Naknek is located on a part of the peninsula that has only 15 miles of paved road. Thus, the use of the airplane is very important to the lives of the people who live there, and for the ministry of AFLC Home Missions. That is where FLAPS comes in.
The airplane provides quick and often the only access to many villages in SW Alaska. Over 150 villages needing the Gospel message are reachable by plane from Naknek. Some of these small villages have no mission presence; others have chapel buildings that sit empty, because there is no missionary/pastor who can get to them to teach. The Free Lutheran Association of Pilot Supporters (FLAPS) is partnering with AFLC Home Missions to provide transportation for our Alaskan missionaries into these villages. Missionary pilots like Jeremy Crowell are indespensible.
We praise God for the work He is doing through village ministry, aviation ministry, radio station outreach, and the everyday relationships built around the Naknek community. We are always looking for more people to help partner in the FLAPS mission.
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