On the coast of the Kenai peninsula and not far from the banks of the Kenai River in Alaska, Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with Grace Lutheran Church to launch an outreach initiative. God blessed our time together with wonderful weather and unexpected visitors.
It was a perfect time to come to Alaska.
Only a few days before, swarms of people were fishing or using dip nets to catch the spawning salmon who were beginning their trek up the Kenai River. It was reported in the newspaper that over 70,000 salmon were passing through the mouth of the river in one day. On the evening of my arrival, I walked down to the shore of the bay and still saw the tails and fins of salmon who were splashing only a few yards away. The spawning season in Alaska is an impressive sight.
As thousands of enthusiastic fishermen were descending upon the Kenai for the annual salmon run, Praise and Proclaim Ministries was blessed with the opportunity to train members at Grace Lutheran Church to be fishers of lost souls.
The days leading up to the outreach initiative were overcast, rainy, breezy and in the low 60s. In other words, we were expecting typical Kenai weather during the summertime. The Lord shined his face upon us and provided two glorious, sunny days. Across the Cook Inlet looking west, the towering Mount Redoubt Volcano (10,197 feet) sticks out. This mountain is famous for erupting back in 2009.
Grace Lutheran Church was established in 1979 with a few core families in the area. In 2001, the faithful members used the WELS School of Outreach as a means of encouragement to step out in faith to establish a school to reach out to the community. They completed a building project and built several classrooms. Now, the K-8 school has close to eighty children enrolled which also includes a successful preschool program. Rev. Rob Guenther serves as the pastor of approximately 130 members.
The congregation made the decision to partner with Praise and Proclaim Ministries to help take advantage of the great reputation of their school in the community by training a core group of members to go out and proclaim the gospel. Members from Grace Lutheran filled the classroom for an evening of training followed by an opportunity to put their training into action by going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel.
The Lord blessed members from Grace who stepped out in faith to share their faith on Saturday morning and afternoon. Here are a few of the stories:
In the first ten minutes of going out door-to-door, I received a call from one of the members. He called to let me know that I should come immediately to his zone because something strange was following their group. When I arrived, I saw a large caribou munching on grass with a huge rack of antlers. The caribou had been following them and it was making his young son very nervous. While driving to another zone later in the morning, a mama caribou trotted out of the woods right in front of me followed by her baby.
This scenario makes Alaska special. Since most of the homes are only accessible by dirt roads and gravel driveways in secluded by wooded areas, caribou and moose are frequent visitors in the neighborhood. In the past few years, a new development of homes has been built that overlooks the scenic Kenai River below. Praise and Proclaim has never canvassed an area quite like these neighborhoods before and I loved it!
The people we met at the door were friendly and polite. Most were not interested, but God has a generous sense of timing. There were several instances where we met families who were looking for a church home. They were grateful that they had the chance to meet a real-live member from a local church. There was one family moving in that day from Seward and another family who had recently moved from Colorado. They had attended a Grace Lutheran Church and were pleased to hear that there was another Grace Lutheran Church here in Kenai.
The Lord uniquely prepares people by sending the right person to the right door at the right time. One member from Grace Lutheran knocked on the door and the man who answered was deaf. Normally, this would be a difficult obstacle to overcome. However, God knew what he was doing. It just so happened that this member knew enough sign language to have a basic conversation. The deaf man at the door expressed to him that he understood and appreciated his presence.
Towards the end of the afternoon, one young lady expressed amazement to one of our teams that they had travelled all the way down a dirt road to knock on her door. In the past few weeks, she felt a strong desire to go visit a local church. She asked several questions about Grace Lutheran as she felt a need to come to a place where she thought she would be welcome despite her past with drug and alcohol addiction.
One dynamic team of members included a member of the local police force. It’s always great when a policeman goes door-to-door, because they do a great job of knocking loudly on the door – as if they are serving a search warrant. The partner always tells me afterward that it was nice to feel safe having a policeman there to protect them.
The members appreciated the training from Praise and Proclaim – especially the approach and methodology that we employ. There is a difference when you go out door-to-door where the emphasis is placed upon bringing as many people as possible to heaven instead of finding new church members. This thought frees us up to focus entirely on the power of God’s Word instead of our ability to persuade a person to come to church.
We give thanks to the Lord and ask him to bless the upcoming church picnic at Grace Lutheran that was planned in conjunction with this outreach initiative!
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