When the Voice of Prophecy (VOP) broadcast ministry discussed initial ideas for their 2012 Family Reunion Music Camp Meeting at Sea cruise, all votes pointed toward Alaska. That was the beginning of a project that grew into one of the most ambitious evangelistic outreach projects in Alaska's history.
Lance Liebelt, VOP manager, asked, "If we're going to Alaska, what more can we do?" In previous cruises, the VOP group had discovered the joy of doing a special project at their destination. In fact, many said the projects were an even greater adventure than the cruise itself.
So they decided to set a project goal for the cruise destination in Anchorage. The Discover Bible School (DBS) and its director, Kurt Johnson, got involved. "What would it be like to send Discover invitation cards to every person in every city and village in Alaska?" they wondered. And when they called Ken Crawford, Alaska Conference president, he was ecstatic about the potential.
Thus was born the Reach Alaska project, designed to bring Bible studies to all Alaskans in every community, no matter how remote, through Discover, KidZone or Native New Day Bible lessons.
But there was more to this plan, as well. "What if we held a special series of meetings at the end of the cruise?" creative minds wondered. "And, what if we asked the best and brightest Adventist speakers we can think of to each take one night?" The series would not only affect the greater Anchorage area, but would also be recorded for broadcast on the Hope Channel. "Let's call it 'Revive!'" they decided.
So, well over a year ago, plans were laid to enhance the North American Division outreach strategy by mailing invitation cards to every Alaskan household. More than 280,000 cards were sent out across the vast Alaskan territory — twice. And the response? Bible studies soon outnumbered the total active membership of the conference — at least 200 studies were started in the Fairbanks/North Pole area alone and more than 130 in the far-flung reaches of Nome!
Thus also began a remarkable partnership between the VOP and the Alaska Conference. Johnson established regular coordination with Tina Steenmeyer, the conference DBS coordinator. Prayer teams were formed, meeting every week via the phone. Some modified their work schedules to accommodate this as a new priority.
So, by the time more than 500 guests embarked on the VOP cruise on June 1, more than 2,000 DBS students were in process or ready for graduation. And the Adventist Media Center/Adventist Media Productions (AMC/AMP) crews were en route to Anchorage to begin setting up for the meetings to follow.
A 40-foot container filled with 10 tons of lights, trusses, cameras, electronics and broadcast equipment had been trucked to Seattle and put on a ship to Anchorage. It was waiting at the dock when team members arrived in Anchorage to begin the complex technical set up in the downtown William A. Egan Civic and Convention Center. Everything was ready and working in time for the VOP Family Reunion concert program the first weekend following the cruise.
And then came the full week series of Revive!, June 9–16, with a virtual dream team of Adventist speakers — Dwight Nelson, Derek Morris, Jon Henderson, Karl Haffner, Randy Roberts, Elizabeth Talbot, Carlton Byrd, José Rojas and Ron Halvorsen. "When Lance Liebelt asked, 'What more can we do?'" says Johnson, "who would have thought that all these gifted speakers would answer the call, willing to be part of this special week?"
In fact, it is likely the first time that such a group has combined its efforts for such a week. Instead of a typical doctrinal approach to evangelism, the focus of each night's topic was a relational appeal of "Experiencing God" in areas such as grace, peace, forgiveness and hope. It was new, fresh and well-received. And each speaker went away saying, "What a wonderful experience. Let's do it again."
Throughout the series, the first fruits of the Bible students came to the forefront. More than 100 graduates received their diplomas on the first weekend. Several who had completed additional studies were baptized. And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ongoing students who are still working to complete the course.
Viewers across North America, from Hawaii to the East Coast, also capitalized on the nightly broadcast via the Hope Channel. Many invited their own Bible-study students to watch with them.
Those involved with ongoing Bible courses realized quickly it is not a one-way-street. The inspiration flows both ways. Along with the interests, members have also been revived with a growing commitment to minister and a fresh passion to bring people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is clear the combined efforts of Discover Bible lessons and the Revive! series have indeed been catalysts to spiritual revival — for new believers and current members alike in Alaska and beyond. Viewers across North America, from Hawaii to the East Coast, had their own Discover Bible lessons underway, and were blessed by this unique broadcast to their area via the Hope Channel.
"This is the first wave of what we hope will be a revival in outreach throughout Alaska," says Johnson. His sentiments are echoed by Crawford and hundreds of Alaska members, who plan to make this a continued emphasis throughout the conference.
If you missed the Revive! series, you can watch each archived program online at adventistchannel.org or hopetv.org.