Let's face it, life has a way of getting out of hand at times. If you've never had a week/month/year where you feel like you're barely hanging on, just wait, you will. Sometimes it's just a ridiculously full schedule, with WAY too much needing to be done. Other times, it's an unexpected crisis, like the death of a loved one, a massive expense, or an illness. No matter the cause, we all face times where we find ourselves ill equipped to cope with the situations we face. Fortunately, those of us who have a relationship with Jesus have a never failing solution in those types of times.
This past summer was one of those times for me. We hosted around 60 construction workers between May and September, had a team of 20 amazing students fly up to lead a kids ministry outreach, helped ship people and materials for Camp Nahshii, and maintained our weekly ministry schedule at Fort Yukon Assembly of God. The days off were few and far between, the hours were long, the work was hard, and everyone's spiritual fruit was tested. It was during this time that I began to notice a barometer for the peace of God in my life; how well I was sleeping.
When I would relax my level of personal prayer and worship, all of the stresses of everything that was going on came crashing in on me. The first indicator, for me, was that I would have very restless sleep. I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, I would wake up after too little sleep feeling like I was forgetting something, and the quality of sleep was poor and didn't seem to provide the rest my body needed. This, of course, led to a snowball effect because every day felt worse than the last. It was during these times that I noticed a connection between my devotional life and my physical wellbeing.
After taking time to refocus on Jesus and lay out everything before Him, His peace came immediately. The most noticeable, tangible affect this had on my was my ability to lay down and truly relax. When I went to bed at night, I felt His assurance that He is in control and that He is pleased with me. I would fall asleep quickly, my sleep would rejuvenate me, and I would awaken with energy and excitement for the next day, even when I only got a few hours of sleep.
Never underestimate or trivialize your spiritual life. It should supersede your fitness routine, your diet, your family life, and your work life. A healthy spiritual life will enhance every other area of your life and bring unmatched fullness and joy into your life. Until you learn to rest in God's presence, we will never truly know peace.
- Pastor Jeremiah
This summer was another one for the books! In the midst of our normal ministry schedule,
we had MAPS teams, missions teams, individuals, camp Nahshii staff, work teams and supplies all coming to and through Fort Yukon! It was crazy. With lots of prayer and people supporting and working hard we were able to build and close in the new church for the winter. While most of the construction for the church was taking place we were gearing up to take kids out on the river to camp Nahshii. This year was exceptional! Elementary camp, we studied the life of Samson and how our true power comes from within! It was a privilege to have our younger students at camp, and so encouraging to watch God work in their lives! Next was high school camp. I love this camp because of the one on one time we get with the students! We had 7 high-schoolers and watched them receive freedom and healing as they spent the week learning about different encounters with Jesus from the bible. Our middle school camp had about 40 middle schoolers, and it was so much fun to build relationship, compete in tournaments and teach these Kiddo’s about Jesus! In all Camp Nahshii was a great success, and I am looking forward to see how God continues to impact our students!
In between high-school camp and middle school camp I was able to make it down to Anchorage to attend and be a bridesmaid in my cousins wedding! It was a great time of connection and spending some time with my family. Upon my return from camp, Sharnay (Appointed Missionary to the Yukon Flats) went to Fairbanks to have her baby. At that point the remaining staff kept things going here with the MAPS workers and ministry as things winded down from the summer. One theme of this summer would be that our God is good and He is always so faithful to provide. Even when we feel like things are too busy or that we don’t seem to have time for stuff, He's there at the same pace as us, waiting for us to come into His presence and rest in His love. Matthew 11:28-30 Says, — “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
- Cheyenne Norberg
Greetings from Fort Yukon! I pray that this year would be full of Gods blessings and abundant love!
God has done so much in my life and in my heart. I know for me this last year was anything but easy! And if you’re anything like me, you have to be reminded almost daily that we are not called to live this life in our own strength. I am entering into the new year with great expectations and a heart ready to receive all that God will do in 2018!
1 Peter 5 warns us to keep a sober mind and to be aware of the enemy who prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” - 1 Peter 5:8-10.
1 Peter 5 also says we have to stand firm in the faith... that is the key here. Standing firm in the hope we have! Regardless of how we feel- what’s going on in our lives and no matter what is coming against us. When we suffer, we have a chance to build endurance and God can be glorified through any and every circumstance..
When we stand firm in Him, He restores us, makes us strong, firm and steadfast! That is my ultimate prayer as we go into the new year. That We wouldn’t do things in our own strength, but that we would stand firm in Him. To give God our all and to push through every circumstance with His wisdom and His heart leading us.
Hey, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season with your families, and enjoyed celebrating Jesus Christ. For me, the month of December was challenging but extremely rewarding. It was a month full of ministry, preparation for New Years, and enjoying time with my family and friends.
Our ministry events this month included a youth game night, our annual youth Christmas and church Christmas parties, three Christmas services over the 24th-25th, a New Years Day service, and our annual youth New Years Allnighter. It was quite a bit of work to get everything put together for the different events we did!
This was due to some of the challenges that we face here in the village of Fort Yukon: logistical difficulties with shipping supplies, materials, and equipment, traveling and sending people between Fort Yukon and Fairbanks, and dealing with the extremely cold temperatures that wear down our vehicles (since we do not have a heated garage or shop to put a vehicle into). These things make it more difficult to effectively host and implement events in the wintertime.
Despite these challenges, we were blessed to be able to have nine volunteers fly up and assist us with our New Years event. We also were blessed by a local corporation in town that donated $1000 to our event. It was an incredible night, with around 40 youth in attendance. They were impacted with amazing life stories and testimonies from the volunteer staff.
Overall, it has been a busy but great month, and I am looking forward to 2018 with excitement and an expectancy for God to take us where we’ve never been before!
- Joshua Niemuth
The past few months have been quite a whirlwind of activity for all of us here at Mission Alaska. As we wrapped up the work on the new church building in Fort Yukon, we began to focus on winter necessities like firewood, fuel oil, and winterizing the facilities. In the midst of the planning and preparation, Sharnay and I were packing and working out the details of our December adventure. We decided to spend Christmas with her parents and family in Kentucky. This would be adventurous enough, if we decided to fly down. But, instead, we thought it would be a good idea to drive down.
I know, it’s crazy. But, with multiple speaking engagements in Indiana and Montana throughout January and February, we knew we were going to need a vehicle anyways. Also, 4,000 miles isn’t really that much anyways, right? We packed up the family and departed North Pole, AK on December 14th. After 9 days of driving through blizzards that spanned hundreds of miles, dogding bison, caribou, and moose through Canada, and guzzling about 200 gallons of diesel fuel, we arrived in Bagdad, KY. We enjoyed spending Christmas with family and getting a chance to catch up with Sharnay’s brothers and their families.
As we gear up for the new year, we turn our attention to Indiana and the churches that have so graciously invited us to come and share about Alaska Missions. We are excited about the opportunity to speak at Clay City Assembly of God, Lyons Assembly of God, Abundant Life Assembly of God, and Discovery Church. We are looking forward to getting to know new people and sharing the gospel wherever we go.
After Indiana, we will be spending the first 2 weeks of February in Montana, on our way back up to Alaska. Please keep us in prayer as we travel many more miles in the “lower 48” and then begin the long drive back to Alaska. We have some budget goals to meet, as far as our support team goes, and we are praying for the ability to hear the voice of God and follow his leading to connect us with those whom He is wanting to be a part of this ministry. Most of all, we want to be obedient to the direction and call of God in our lives. We know that He will use us to build His kingdom and reach many souls for eternity and we are excited about these opportunities.
God bless you and keep you,
- Pastor Jeremiah Niemuth
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