Hey, everyone! So, these past two months have been amazing, and full of hard work. August was an exciting month, as we finished up escorting teams in and out of Fort Yukon from Camp Nahshii, traveled as a staff to AG General Council in Anaheim, California, and later began the work on the foundation for the new church building. We were also able to give out some school supply baskets to various students this year. The church building project started on the 17th of August, and we worked hard marking out and measuring the dimensions for the building, digging holes and trenches, pouring gravel and compacting it for the pads, cutting railroad ties and constructing the pads, and lag bolting the pads together. The next step is to finish up the remaining pads and assemble the steel frame on top of them. August 30th was also the start of the fall semester for SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God University). I only have two semesters left, and will graduate in the late spring of 2018!
We had some fun in September! We got a lot of stuff done around the property, and started to get things prepped for the long winter coming up. My dad (who had come up earlier to help with the building project) came up again to join us on our hunting trip. After 5 days of hunting up the Black River, my brother was blessed to be able to shoot his first bull moose, a 51” bull. We had great time out in the Alaskan wild! Later on, on the 24th, my brother and I decided to go out again so that I could get my moose ticket filled… and I did! We saw another bull on the first day and packed him out the next morning. God blessed us with so much meat for the winter, both from fishing earlier in the summer, and from the moose in the fall.
We are looking forward to attending the Alaska Youth Conference later this month (October), and bringing 5 youth and 1 young adult, as well as the Change Conference in November, and the New Years All-Nighter at the end of the year! Please pray that God continues to soften and stir the hearts of the wonderful people in this community, and that families are changed and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to reach their village!
Ok, let’s be honest, can we do that? Sometimes, life is just too busy. The kids are whining, the dog is barking, the boss is calling, the faucet is leaking, and the computer crashes and you lose all of your data.... all at the exact same time. Things seem to happen that make us want to shout, “SERIOUSLY?! What are the odds?!!” (And not in a wow-I-won-the-lottery kind of way). Some people think that the life of a minister is so laid back (I know, weird, right?). If you are one of those people who think pastors only do any real work on Sundays, slap yourself. Then, buy a plane ticket and come visit me for a few weeks. I’m not saying I’ll work you into the ground.... well, no promises. Suffice it to say life in the ministry can be just as crazy and chaotic as any other field of work.
One of the most important things I’ve learned in ministry is the value of finding a balance. You know, that perfect, harmonious blend of work and family, public and private, planning for the future and living in the present, etc. We hear the term all the time, “Balance your budget.” , “Eat a balanced diet.” , “Balance this coffee mug on your nose.” Ok, maybe not that last one, but You get the idea. We are taught to search diligently for this mysterious balance, which then just becomes another thing to do on our long list of things to do. We finally get a moment to ourselves and we consult our to-do list, which reads something like this:
* Feed the gremlins... I mean, children
* Work on that newsletter
* Prep the message for Sunday service
* Take that college quiz (do not fail)
* Chop up some firewood
* Clean up the yard before it snows
* Change the oil on the vehicles
* Fix the leaking toilet (again)
* Winterize the windows
* Spend time with family
* Talk with church member who needs help
* ...Begin hunt for ever illusive balance
I know, it seems ridiculous, right? However, there is a way to balance your life. Can you guess what it is? I’ll give you a hint, it’s the first thing on my to-do list. Thats right, that pesky thing that our pastors have told us to do our whole life, pray. It’s a simple concept, but it’s not always an easy task. There is a stark difference between the words easy and simple. It’s easy to understand what I mean by “Stop what you’re doing and pray.” It’s just not simple sometimes, is it? It can be difficult to stop the business and ask God to help us with our business. It feels like a waste of time, like we could be doing something instead of asking God to help us do something. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
When we take time to seek God at the beginning of our to-do lists and business, we get a sense of His priorities. We begin to understand what’s really important on that to-do list. And, when we tackle things in the order of God’s priority, He blesses our work, gives us energy, and brings fruitfulness to the project. He needs to be the one in the lead and we need to be the ones trusting Him to lead us. When He’s leading, He will provide everything we need when He wants us to work a little harder. It’s also critical that we are following Him throughout our day, in all of our business, because when He’s telling us to take a break, it’s because taking a break is the best thing for us and for our day. Now, brothers and sisters, I do not say that I have attained all this but, nevertheless, I press on towards the goal to which Christ has put before me (Paul said that... in the Bible).
- Pastor Jeremiah Niemuth
And just like that, we find ourselves stepping into 2017! The last two years here in the Yukon Flats have been exceptional and so full of Gods grace and provision!! The month of December was chalked full of ministry activities, a trip to see family and prep for the new years all-nighter. Although we had just 6 staff to pull off our super-hero/super-villan themed event, It turned out great- and I had so much fun! As we began the new year, Jeremiah, Sharnay, Lucas and Araya left Fort Yukon to travel other parts of Alaska- Sharing vision, and what God has been doing here in the Yukon flats, to raise their missionary budget. In their absence Angela Sergie has come up to serve as a third person and help out in the various areas of ministry! She has been such a blessing! and we are so thankful for her.
Its hard to believe that we are already halfway through February! God has been so faithful to open doors and give opportunity to build relationships here in the community. In January/February we hosted an evening of games, food and movies with the youth. "Guys night/Girls night" We had over 25 show up both times and stay the whole time. Guys were over at the church doing their "guy thing" and girls were here at the house with me. We watched a few movies, had a devotional, did make-up and hair.. ate pizza, popcorn, nachos.. and drank frappes and slushies. It was a great time to get to know them and continuing to strengthen relationships with them.
The longer I'm here.. the more I find myself loving the people here.
Romans 12:9-12 "Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying."
If we want to see long lasting change in the lives of the people on this earth.. we have to invest in them. Not invest because we know it needs to be that way- But invest because we are seeing people through the eyes of Jesus.
It's all about relationship. Period.
Hello again! It’s time for an “end of 2016, beginning of 2017” update from Fort Yukon, Alaska! I am amazed that once again this year, we had great weather in the middle of winter on New Year’s Eve. Our theme was Comic-Con, and everything was superhero/super-villain themed. The kids had a blast, and some of them came with costumes. With only six, our leaders were spread thin this year, but we made it work, and the youth had a fun and safe place to spend their New Year’s Eve.
After the New Year’s all nighter, Pastors Jeremiah and Sharnay left to raise their support budget as US missionaries. They brought little Lucas and Araya with them, so the house has been pretty quiet much of the time! Angela Sergie from This Generation Ministries (TGM) has been staying up here as a third person, as well as a helper in the various ministries of the church.
January was a month of awesome opportunities. I started my sixth consecutive semester with SAGU (Southwestern AG University). At may current rate, I should be graduating with a bachelor’s degree either December of this year or April of next. I also began teaching a guitar class to the high schoolers as an elective at the school. I have nine students in my class, and it has been fun showing them what I know about guitar. I am looking forward to a great rest of the school year. I have served in multiple ways in the volunteer fire department these past couple of months- Chase, the police chief and director of public safety for the City of Fort Yukon, recently promoted me to Battalion Chief within the department, so I have been busy helping with grants, doing administrative tasks, and contacting the firefighters with news and any situations that happen (fire calls, search and rescue, etc). God is opening many doors for us to serve our community and reach them with His love, and it’s exciting to see!
On February 5th (aka “Super Bowl Sunday”), we had 7-8 people over for an awesome time of food and fun as we watched the game. We had to pull out more chairs in the cafe area, which was a welcome surprise. Now, as we come closer to March, I have been getting our students pumped about Winter Xtreme, which, for the first time in its 17 years of operation, will be hosted in Valdez this year. This is a powerful winter camp that gives students an excellent environment specifically created for the purpose of encountering God. I ask that as you read this, you would say a prayer for the camp, and for the students- that those who need to go would be able to make it, and that God would provide the funds and and the means for them to go. James 5:17 says that the fervent prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I am very excited about year number three in Yukon Flats youth ministry, and look forward to developing leaders that will reach their school campus, their homes, and their town for Christ!
The beginning of 2017 had been a very important time in our ministry for many reasons. This past October, we passed the 10 year mile mark for our ministry in Fort Yukon. Also, January was the beginning of our second 4 year term with the U.S. Missions department of the Assemblies of God. These two moments are important for several reasons, which tie directly into the ongoing vision for Yukon Flats ministry that God has given us.
It has been our desire to help to train and equip ministers for Alaska village ministry. I believe that longevity is key to long-term sustainability in very remote areas of Alaska. Many organizations in the villages, besides the church, suffer from lack of consistent workers. We've seen it in the village schools, the city leadership, the police department, the post office, and the church, to name a few. When a teacher, pastor, city manager, or police officer is replaced so often and so quickly, it leaves an absolute void of relationship between that position and the community. People begin to see the people who hold those positions with the same courteous indifference that many of us give towards the server at a restaurant in a far away town that we're visiting. We are nice, we treat them with respect, but we don't plan on any kind of long-term relationship. In order for the church to be effective in building the kingdom of God in these rural areas, we have to break through the standoffish but polite smiles and the simple nod of greeting. We have to get to a deeper point of relationship with those whom God has called us to reach.
When I first moved to Fort Yukon, I did work as a substitute teacher at the school. I subbed for many classed, of all different ages. Some of the kids who were in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes are now part of our youth group, as high schoolers. There is a different level of relationship these students have with me than the students in youth groups of other churches we visit and speak at. These youth know that we love them and they have seen us be consistent in their lives for over a decade. As we coach and council them in their walk with Jesus, we are able to get through to them in ways that have taken years to discover. There is no shortcut for the investment of time that it takes to build relationship with people.
If we are going to reach the remote areas of Alaska with the message of Jesus, we have to be willing to put the necessary time into fostering relationship with the people in these areas. There is no quick and easy strategy for loving people. It may involve being someone to talk to after the death of a loved one, or going out into the woods to bring back some much needed firewood for an elder. But, no matter what form it takes, loving people requires time. Time to get to know them, time to figure out the needs, time to try different ways to meet those needs, and time to be there when new needs arise. There is a reason the saying "Give them the time of day" is associated with relationship building. It involves stopping your business, setting aside whatever issues you may have with someone, and interacting with them in a way that blesses them.
Our hope is to be able to encourage, equip, and entrust new and existing village missionaries through the things we've learned in our years in Fort Yukon. We want to see village churches grow and new churches be planted. Alaska Missions is not dead, because we serve the living God.
- Pastor Jeremiah
Hello everyone! A lot has happened in the last few months. In August we had a team of 20 individuals from Idaho City Christian Center! They were a huge blessing in every area, and because of them we have a new roof on the back end of our church as well as many other things they accomplished while they were here! As we transitioned into the beautiful season of fall, Our team spent three weeks in Southeast Alaska! Ministering in Haines (Haines Christian Center), Wrangell (Harbor Light Assembly of God), Sitka (Sitka Assembly of God), and Petersburg (Lighthouse Assembly of God). I had such an incredible time meeting new people and strengthening previous relationships. Plus, Southeast is a beautiful and breath-taking part of Alaska! (My eyes were blessed.) It seems as though the theme of this year has been unity. And so many of us know, that when we are praying for things like patience, unity or some other key tool to the call of God on our lives.. things seem to get harder a lot faster. But over and over I am reminded of a passage of scripture in Romans 5:3-5, “ We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
There’s something about knowing God’s got your back that just really lightens the burdens of life. (see Matt.11:30)
Being unified as the body of Christ is gravely important. Its one of the ways we will be able to reach people with the love of God by expanding areas of influence and working as one solid body to effectively take ground for the kingdom.
Our God is so faithful to continuously work on our behalf even when we don’t see it. When our team returned from the trip we jumped right back into ministry here in the village! Late September- early October we promoted Alaska Youth Conference and Pastor Joshua and myself were able to bring 8 of our youth to Anchorage for a few days! It was an incredible experience for our whole group! We were able to build stronger relationships with our students and most of all God showed up. Immediately following our trip to AKYC16 we jumped right into our annual youth conference that we do in Fort Yukon; The XChange. We had a couple of leaders fly up for that and we were able to minister to about 40 or so youth during the 3 day period. It was packed full of food, games, prizes, live worship, and awesome altar ministry time.
As we gear up for the Holidays’, The New Years All-nighter, and a New Year I am so excited and can’t wait to see what God will do. Thank you for all the time you have sown into Mission…Alaska, wether it was through your prayers, financial giving, or physically coming to serve here in Fort Yukon! You are a priceless part of our team and we are so thankful for you! God Bless,
Hey, everybody! What an awesome fall season it has been! As I go into my third year of youth ministry in the Yukon Flats, I am encouraged by the lives that have been changed and impacted, and the relationships that have been built with youth and their families. God has been encouraging me with Paul’s words to the church in Philippians 1:6- “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Everything that we do for God’s kingdom will have everlasting impact, so keep looking for opportunities everyday to change a life!
Okay, a little update on what I’ve been up to since mid-August. Near the end of August, we went on a 3-week itinerating trip to southeast Alaska. We helped Pastors Wayne and Jane Cowart with a youth cook-out at Haines Christian Center AG in Haines, and were blessed to visit their church and house. Next, we headed to Wrangell and I spoke at the youth service at Harbor Light AG. We also we able to spend some awesome times with Pastors Kem and Susan Haggard, as well as some members of their church, and we shared at the Sunday morning service as well.
After a great four days in Wrangell, we headed to Sitka. It was so much fun hanging out with Pastor Thad White and his youth staff, and having meals with him and his family. I had the privilege of sharing at Lift Youth Ministries, and we shared on Sunday morning as well. Pastors Ryan and Heather Gluth are doing an amazing job at Sitka AG, and we had an awesome time connecting with everyone over a five-day period.
After Sitka, we headed to our last itinerating spot on our trip: Petersburg. Petersburg was a special stop for me, having previously been the youth/associate pastor there at Lighthouse AG for two years. It was a highlight of the tripe for me, hanging out with Pastors Nathan and Mindy Lopez and their family, going fishing, staying at one of the church member’s cabins (which was amazing), and sharing at the youth group and Sunday morning services. After a week of awesomeness, we headed back up north.
As school has gotten back in session, I have been using an awesome curriculum for our Thursday night Reach Discipleship nights, as well as some cool prize incentives for doing various things either during the lesson or throughout the week. We have seen attendance at the Reach rise even above youth group nights on Saturday night since September. Also, In late October, we were able to take 8 youth to Alaska Youth Conference 2016. What a blast! The kids learned so much about living for God, had amazing worship experiences with God, and had a great time. AKYC is a very good discipleship event, and gives our youth kids a spiritual boost, as well as encourage them and show them that they are not alone in their walk with God- there are thousands of other youth in Alaska chasing after Him!
Now, we are getting ready for our yearly local youth conference, XChange. This conference has more of an evangelistic focus, and reaches out to all the young people in Fort Yukon. We have seen between 25 to 50 youth come to the XChange each year. We are also getting ready for the New Years Allnighter (always one of our biggest events of the year). Thank you for thinking of us and please keep us in your prayers as we continue building relationships and making a difference in Fort Yukon!
Have you ever tripped and fallen with something fragile or precious in your hands? If you're anything like me, you've experienced amazing feats of balance and/or agility in order to avoid destroying that valuable thing you're holding, as you fall. Believe it or not, even when you're falling, you have the ability to prioritize where you land and on what part of your body you land on. Most of this thinking happens subconsciously, but that doesn't make it any less amazing.
This type of subconscious prioritizing and decision making doesn't happen instantly, when we are born. Seriously, have you ever watched a little kid trip and fall flat on their face? The reflexive actions needed to avoid such horrible situations come with years of trial and error. As we grow up, we begin to adapt to our surroundings and learn how to react better to unforeseen hazards, like tripping.
Similarly, in our relationship with God there will be trips, slips, and falls. Unlike our physical growth, our spiritual growth is completely up to us, it doesn't "just happen". You can be a churchgoer all your life, but still be a spiritual infant. Or, you could have come to know Jesus a few months ago and be a spiritual adolescent. It really depends on how you choose to respond to Jesus in your life. If you are constantly practicing walking with Jesus, you are going to develop mature spiritual instincts for how to handle a fall.
When we go through tough times in our lives, we have to know how to fall. If we don't, we run the risk of doing lasting harm in our lives. We have to continually practice our walk with Jesus and experience life with Him. That way, when a crisis happens, our quickest, subconscious response will be to fall on Him and let Him help us up.
Over the past few months, God has done amazing things in my heart and mind. I have been learning how to not fall flat on my face when the enemy attacks or I make a mistake. God has been teaching me how to come to Him absolutely first, before I try to fix things myself, before going to the clinic, etc. Even though I may end up fixing it myself or going to the clinic, I am learning to do those things with God's leading. That way, He gets all the credit and I learn to be in His will for me.
Since Camp Nahshii, this Summer, SO MUCH has happened here in Fort Yukon. Even though we've bee super busy, we've worked hard to keep our focus on Jesus and rest in His peace often. It's definitely not easy, and we've made mistakes along the way, but it's SO worth it! When we are all focused on Jesus and keeping our mind on His kingdom, we can accomplish much more in less time. I find that there is less strife and conflict, more unity, and more peace in our workplace and home.
At the beginning of August, we had a 20 person team from Idaho City Christian Center come up to help with much needed construction projects and a kids outreach program. A few days before their arrival, we found out that part of the church ceiling was collapsing! When Fairbanks 1st Assembly of God found out about it, they immediately purchased all of the repair materials and shipped them up to Fort Yukon. the ICCC team was able to get right to work doing some demolition and reconstruction on the church building. They also wrapped our office expansion with siding, put tongue and groove siding in the interior of the staff bedrooms, and hosted a kids outreach program. This team was such as huge blessing and we were honored to have them.
About a week after that team departed, our entire staff headed out on a ministry tour of some of the Southeast Alaskan islands. We ministered in Haines (Haines Christian Center), Wrangell (Harbor Light Assembly of God), Sitka (Sitka Assembly of God), and Petersburg (Lighthouse Assembly of God). It was a LONG journey, but we were glad we made it. We were able to connect with so many people and build on relationships that we already had.
While we were gone, my mother, Yvonne Niemuth, and my younger brother and two sisters filled in for us up here in Fort Yukon. They did a great job ministering to the community and keeping things going up here during that 3 and a half weeks.
When we returned, we immediately began prepping to bring youth to the Alaska Youth Conference (AKYC) in Anchorage. Everyone pitched in to help raise the funds and work with the families of 8 youth to be able to take them on this trip. Their lives were impacted by AKYC in so many ways. To read more about AKYC, check out Pastor Joshua's and Cheyenne's blog post.
During the prep for AKYC, Sharnay began having severe pain in her right abdominal area. I flew her into Fairbanks to go to the doctor. After an ultrasound, the doctor's determined that she had at least two large gallstones. We scheduled surgery and had the gallbladder removed. Last week, we headed home for her to recover and to get back to our regular ministry schedule.
It has been an exciting and challenging year for me, and I've seen God do amazing things in my life and my family. I am looking forward to what's next with great anticipation! Thank you for being a part of this amazing ministry!
- Pastor Jeremiah Niemuth
This year has been especially memorable. Its the first year that I am an official missionary associate under the Intercultural Missions department, as well as my first year as a credentialed Assemblies of God minister. Being in Fort Yukon has broadened my heart for missions. I had never thought that I would baptize someone… let alone baptize them in one of the coldest and most dangerous rivers!
Now, in my last update I talked about Winter X-Treme in March. Shortly after one of the services one of our girls came and started asking me about baptism, I shared with her what it meant, and why we do it and to my surprise she asked if I would be able to baptize her when the river broke.
I didn't expect that! I explained to her that it would be a few months from now (Everything was still frozen.)
As summer came around our team here in Fort Yukon was working with This Generation Ministries to gear up for our annual summer camp: Camp Nahshii.. time was in short supply! I talked with the girl a few other times about baptism more in depth and we went over scriptures and stories in the bible regarding baptism.
June was packed with preparation for Camp. With work teams, lots of freight coming through and endless boat trips from circle to fort yukon, and then to camp. While all of that is going on we are still doing full time ministry in Fort Yukon- building the hype for camp! The month before flew by and before we knew it, July was here! Camp Nahshii was is in full swing! There was so much going on! Anyone who has ever staffed at a summer camp can tell you, “long nights and early mornings!” The services were impactful and youth were experiencing God! One of the nights during middle school camp, 3 girls approached me after service and told me that they wanted to be baptized. (all were from Fort Yukon) I talked with them briefly and explained that we would talk more, later. (I’m pretty sure I almost exploded with excitement for these young girls!)
I had never baptized anyone before, and the thought of it made me so nervous. I’ve seen it done so many times, and I knew what to say, and how it was done. But I wasn’t confident. So I began to look at scripture and read the stories from the bible about baptism. God totally changed my perspective and heart about it. I was looking at it from a “this is a right of passage into the christian world” point of view and my heart was just broken in awe of how beautiful and simple baptism is! Reading the story of Phillip and the Eunuch, “As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.” Acts 8:36-38. In biblical times baptism was, “I choose Jesus, and now I want to be baptized, right now..” they stopped everything they were doing and went down to a river or stream or any source of water in where you could be submerged, and they did it! There is so much freedom and beauty in choosing to live for Christ. In looking at scripture it was as though I was re living the moment I chose to be with Jesus forever. There is nothing like it. Camp was over, and an eventful river season was coming to a close. Pastor Joshua talked about baptism at one of our youth night services and we did the baptisms for the two girls the following weekend.
Here we are in August, and I am so thankful for what God has done this summer and I am privileged to be a part of the plan God has for the Yukon Flats of Alaska! Know that your prayers and your support are making an impact. God is “I AM” He never stops working and providing for His people!
I still have a long way to go to raise my missionary budget. Currently, I am only at 16% of my total operating budget. Please consider joining my team and helping me GO so that ALL can know the love of our God!
- Cheyenne Norberg
Hello, everyone! I'd like to say that this summer has been insanely busy. To go back and try to remember every cool thing that took place and every event would be nearly impossible (but maybe still doable, but I won't try to do that, because I'm actually supposed to be helping with a building project in our backyard as I type this). So, here we go.
The month of May. May was great- it was the start of another SAGU semester (as I finish up the GE- that's general education- courses). It was a time of preparation, as we took a Nahshii scouting trip, and flew into town to pick up and unload a semi truck full of furniture at the TGM headquarters (mainly beds and dressers for the bunk house at Camp Nahshii). It was also a time for miscellaneous projects and opportunities in town (but that is actually all year long); we built a railing for our front deck, and became more involved with the FYU Firefighting Department.
June. I seriously did more boating in June (between riding and driving) then I have ever done before in my entire life. We boated to and from Circle, FYU, and Camp Nahshii so many times- mostly supply runs with gear, equipment, work teams and their luggage, and food. I learned a great deal about boating in the Yukon River, and how to fix issues like running out of gas, changing a prop (that's a propeller, if you don't know), fixing the electric bilge pump, and other things of that sort. What to do, what not to do- you know, the things that will keep you alive and safe out in the middle of the Yukon Flats.
And, of course, we had our 8th year of Camp Nahshii in July. I was at camp almost the whole month, helping with getting the camp ready, and then being staff for the 2 weeks of camp (high school, and then middle school). With 8 high school campers, about 40 middle school campers, and numerous God encounters and testimonies, Camp Nahshii was an awesome success. I had the privilege of leading the worship team, and had such a great time playing music and opening the door for young people to worship God from their hearts. (If you're on Facebook, you can see more pictures and videos of the camp weeks).
We (my brother and I) are planning to continue the J&J Show, especially now as the summer closes down, and we have more events in the fall to talk about. We are getting ready to head to Southeast AK for awhile to visit the churches, help out with the different ministries down there, and build our support team through relationships. If you read all of this, thanks a lot! And know that God is changing hearts and lives in the Yukon Flats region of Alaska. God bless you all.
- Pastor Joshua Niemuth