A Devotional Blog for Young Ahtna Christians

And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (JOS 10:11 ESV)

During CCC&C’s Alaska Mission trip (AKM) 2015, I spent a good amount of time chatting with a variety of people who attended the Wrangell Mountain Bible Conference. Although we from CCC&C were attending to minister to the teens, we always joined the common dinner with the adult program and had ample opportunity to meet and chat with the adults. But among the folks I spoke to were few ministering to the teens during the rest of the year. So I went into my 2nd visit, AKM 2017, hoping to meet some.

In 2015, I had actually met some missionaries to the area who had a particular interest in teens, but they were moving to Ireland to serve there and there was no successor to them in place. By my return there were still no local missionaries to the teens. Realistically, it’s difficult to imagine there would be. It’s a distinctly specialized population to justify a full-time minister. Missionaries would have to raise their own support disbursed most often through a supporting organization. Youth pastors would have to be salaried by a local church that has the will and budget to do so. (Sample internet search: how do missionaries {or youth pastors} get paid)

What about youth workers? In CCC&C there are a cadre of volunteers, including myself, who have worked with the teens through Saturday fellowship meetings or through Sunday school for years.

As I started asking around and meeting people, it became increasingly clear that there are too few teens in villages to support even volunteer youth workers. And there are too few Christian role models to influence them outside of formal gatherings. I spoke to one pastor’s wife who was open to working with the teens but who suspected that she didn’t have the youthful cache to be able to reach them after early adolescence.

I’m no spring chicken by any stretch of the imagination but I’m also not the sole ministers in a small community church. CCC&C has an English-speaking congregation of 100 people and some people like me have long worked with adolescents.

WMBC seemed like the most effective game in town even at 1 week a year.

To be sure, my process of meeting people wasn’t exhaustive. And I leave plenty of room to accept that there are youth workers out there, I just have yet to connect with them.

So my persistent question has been how can a church in Philadelphia help a teen population all the way in AK’s Copper River Valley outside of just 1 week a year. I’m convinced that the answer is through the internet.

My goal is to publish a devotional blog. One developed specifically for the native Alaskan teens. If you think that sounds awfully niche, you don’t know how niche the population is. Complex family dynamics, ethnic distrust, tribal governance all contribute to the challenges of growing up Ahtna.

I’d be shortsighted to think I could sustain a devotional publication by myself and so detached from the NAK teen experience. I’m not that experienced, prolific, or wise.

But I’m far from the only person who’s been to the Copper River Valley. CCC&C has sent many members there since 2009. There are also still plenty of faithful Christians who live there who can’t necessarily bring the teens together from the villages as spread out physically but can help challenge and encourage them in their unique circumstances via the internet.

In Joshua 10, the Amorites attacked Gibeon, a protectorate of the Israelites who were newly occupying the land God had promised to them. As the Amorites fled in a divinely-induced panic, a timely hailstorm caused massive casualties.

Hail is caused by complex weather conditions affecting moisture levels, temperatures, and airflow at different altitudes. The larger the stones, the longer the conditions must last. Couple those conditions with perfect timing and placement, simultaneous with a mass panic attack among experienced military men (and all its individual neurochemical implications) and you have a miracle.

Perhaps a blog paired with the right combination of people and circumstances might produce just the right conditions to accomplish something miraculous in its own right.


Linked References (MLA Style)

CCC&C“: “Chinese Christian Church and Center.” Chinese Christian Church and Center. Chinese Christian Church and Center, 2016, http://www.cccnc.org. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.

complex weather conditions“: “Hail Basics.” Severe Weather 101. The National Severe Storms Laboratory, n.d., http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/hail/. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.

JOS 10:1-15 ESV“: “Joshua 10:1-15 (English Standard Version).” The Holy Bible. Crossway Bibles, 2016, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+10%3A1-15&version=ESV. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.

MLA Style“: Russell, Tony, et al. “MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications).” The Purdue OWL. Purdue University Writing Lab, 2017, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/08/. Accessed 3 Aug. 2017.

The larger the stones“: “Giant Hailstones.” The Online Tornado FAQ. Storm Prediction Center, 2008, http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/hailjim.htm. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017.

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