, pastor of the Yellowknife Seventh-day Adventist Church, Canada
You can’t stay here any longer,” the house owner said through the door.
Where was Benton Lowe going to go? A blizzard was blowing outside. He had come to the remote community in Canada’s Northwest Territories to do Bible work. Now it was late at night and he had to find a new place to stay.
Lowe had planned to stay with the house owner, whom he had met on Facebook. He had flown in early to make connections with people and was arriving at the house later than he had expected. He was tired after a long day of walking and visiting in people’s homes. And now the door was locked.
“Can I at least pick up my things?” he asked.
The upset voice behind the door responded, “Well, make it quick.”
This is the life of Benton Lowe, a missionary in Nunavut, the newest, largest, northernmost, and least populated territory in Canada.
Lowe was one of several missionaries that the Yellowknife Seventh-day Adventist Church invited to the Northern Mission Summit, a four-weekend event this month that featured firsthand reports about what the Adventist Church is doing to reach the circumpolar regions. Stories from across Alaska, northern British Columbia, and Nunavut created an enthusiasm among church members about the possibilities of reaching the North.
After each presentation, church members were given an opportunity to interact and reflect on the information given.
“Ministering doesn’t always mean an evangelistic series,” one member said. “Every speaker mentioned the importance of long-term commitment.”
Another church member said: “This is not a one-month or a one-year mission trip. This is long-term missionary service.”
Church members also discussed what they could do right now using the new ideas that had been presented.
“What if we went to a nearby community and just hosted a meal in the park?”
“What if we started a Bible study group in the prison?”
“What if we started a youth ministry to reach out to homeless teens?”
Listening to these stories of sacrifice, defeat, and eventual divine appointments, Yellowknife members said they were inspired to be a light for God in the local context where they were placed.
The Northern Mission Summit concluded with a report from representatives from SULADS Canada, an Adventist supporting ministry whose members provide “the less remembered people in Canada” with non-formal education and agriculture and health programs designed to alleviate illiteracy, poverty and disease, according to the organization’s website. The representatives shared how they use agriculture and positive experiences for young people to connect and grow the church in an indigenous community in northern British Columbia.
Ken Weibe, president of the church’s Alberta Northwest Territories Conference, spoke about the importance of being active where God has called you to serve. Unto the ends of the Earth.
Are we truly willing to get uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel? Sacrifice. Determination. Mission work. It’s not solely in an exotic land far from home. It is in the Canadian North.
One church member commented: “The Northern Mission Summit gave us different perspectives. We were hearing reality. It was the strengths and failures of the missionaries to the North. And through it all we heard about sacrificial faith.”
While the Northern Mission Summit has ended, the work continues to reach 33 communities and 11 languages in an area that covers more than 385,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers). The church’s Northern Mission Advisory committee has met multiple times to work on developing a strategic initiative to expand the three angels’ messages throughout this vast area in the Northwest Territories.
How can you become active in expanding the message of hope and wholeness throughout the Canadian North? Pray. Give. Go.
Thirty-three communities, eleven languages, and more than 385,000 square miles. The task before us is great. But we serve a greater God.
Jonathan Geraci is the pastor of the Yellowknife Seventh-day Adventist Church in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. E-mail him at [email protected].