Dread gripped young Sam* as he sat at his bedroom window, bathed in the pale blue hues of an Alaskan arctic twilight. Each passing minute dissolved the last slivers of light into the black of nightfall.
Ever since he could remember, evening had brought fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. His heart jumped as the voices of arriving guests echoed from the next room, answering the nightly call to party in his village home. People of all ages — parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, older siblings, all in some stage of drunken delirium — filled the smallest pockets of space in the tiny, smoke-filled living room.
Every night was the same. Someone would get offended by a verbal or physical slight, slurred voices would rise, pushing would turn to punching, and the room would come alive — arms and legs flailing to connect with something human — once again proving the common village saying that “the party doesn’t really get good until a fight breaks out.”
Sam longed for change; he longed for peace, security, and safety. He was tired of being afraid to go to bed every night, lying with his head under the blankets, tense and listening; ready to fight off drunk, clumsy hands seeking their target; feeling the angry blows as he fought to fend off abuse. But not tonight! Sam grabbed his coat and, pushing his way through the heaving mass of bodies, headed out the door.
The winter air stung his cheeks as he pulled the hood of his coat over his head and walked down the deserted dirt road. Where to go? he pondered. No point going to the neighbors. Things were worse at their house.
Walking farther, he saw a house with the porch lighton, its bright, yellow glow illuminating the yard and street. He recognized it as the place where the new Bible workers lived. His friends had been talking about how the couple would open their home in the evenings for kids to come to have food, play games, and listen to Bible stories. As he contemplated what to do next, the sound of laughter floated through the air. There was something different in that laughter. It was sober! Full of uncomplicated joy and excitement.
At that moment, Sam was faced with a choice: Would he spend the night wandering the dark streets waiting for an all-clear to go home? Or should he succumb to the house’s warm, welcoming light and see what was inside?
Slowly, he made his way up the stairs to the door. He knocked softly and then stepped back, ready to run away. The door was opened by a smiling woman who beckoned him to enter and join the other kids as they sat listening to the story of the wise men who followed the star to Jesus.
Sam recognized some of his friends among the group, and when he sat down with them, he felt a sense of peace. The porch light had led him to a new kind of life, one where he didn’t have to be afraid and fight to be safe. He snuggled deep into the blanket that he shared with the boy next to him and listened as the journey of the wise men unfolded. He, like them, had followed a bright light and found something wonderful: a place where he could be a kid again.
Arctic Alaska has some of the highest suicide and substance abuse rates in the United States. Sam is just one of many people whose life was changed by the Bible workers living in the remote Native villages, a region of Alaska that is not connected to the North American road network or the state’s ferry system. At Arctic Mission Adventure, we believe that God has called these precious workers to shine the light of Jesus in a very dark and challenging part of the world.
Please pray for the people of Alaska.
* Name has been changed.